June 03, 2020 9 min read

Among athletes like basketball and volleyball players, a high vertical jump can make or break the game in a big competition. The ability to jump ranks high on the athlete’s workout routine and requires a lot of focus. With extreme jumping ability, basketball players can dunk a ball and win serious competitions. 

For someone who’s looking for full-body workouts and wanting to  round out their physical ability in the gym, the vertical jump is an important one too. Whether you like to scrimmage with your friends at the gym or your aim is to impress the others working out around you, vertical jump training will place you above the pack. 

Why a High Jump Is Valuable for Your Body

A jumping training program has more benefits than just looking good at the gym or winning a basketball match (although if you’re an athlete that’s the perfect goal). When you increase your vertical leap you strengthen a lot of crucial muscles needed for explosiveness. All of these need to be toned and strengthened if you want to have a ripped body. 

  • Calves
  • Hamstrings
  • Quads
  • Glutes
  • Abs

Let’s talk a little more about the position these muscles hold in your body and why you need to strengthen them during your jump program. 

Calves

Your calves directly affect your ankles and their stability. Many athletes are  prone to ankle injuries. You can get pronation or supination, which happens when your ankle tends to twist a little too far inward or outward. Some people have weak ankles in general. If you’ve rolled your ankle in the past or sprained or broken it, it’s much more likely to be injured again in the future. 

When you injure an ankle for the second time, you’re in much more danger of damaging it even more. If that happens, you could end up nursing your ankle for the rest of your life, avoiding intense exercise just to avoid irritating it. Even worse, you might have to get surgery or even a replacement. The best way to stay away from that discomfort is to keep your ankles strong by keeping your calves strong. 

When it comes to weightlifting, you’re putting a lot of strain on your ankles by constantly handling heavy weights. There are definitely some exercises you can do to strengthen your calves and even stretch them out before you work out to prevent injury. But it’s much more rewarding and enjoyable to spend your time in the gym doing big movements for big gains, right? So following our suggested workouts is a great way to do that. 

Hamstrings

Toning, stretching, and  strengthening your hamstrings will increase your explosive power to the maximum. It will also help you run faster and help your posture stay straight. If you’re looking for greater leg power in your strength-building exercises you’ll make fast progress with strong hamstrings. 

Quads

You can’t build up your hamstrings without also building up your quads.  You need both for massive, tree-trunk legs and solid security against tearing tendons like your ACL. 

The quads, short for quadriceps, are a group of four muscles in the front of your legs that are responsible for  straightening out the knee. In your daily activities, they’re the main reason you can go up the stairs, get up from your chair, and even walk. In bodybuilding, they help you lift extra weight in your squats and other leg workouts. 

The quads and hamstrings work together to bend and straighten the legs. When One contracts the other extends, and then they switch places. 

Glutes

While glutes are technically part of your lower body, they do a lot to strengthen and balance your upper body. Strong glutes mean a well supported lower back and bigger abdominal strength. The lower back is one of the vulnerable points when it comes to heavy lifting. We always warn beginners, who are just learning the proper squatting and lifting techniques, to keep their lower back straight and not to overdo it too soon. 

A ripped man.

Abs

Just as quads and hamstrings work together, the abs ( or abdominals) and back work together to perform just about any daily task: walking up a hill, sitting up from a lying position, standing, reaching, etc. Besides their health benefits, a 6-pack just looks great.  

How to Measure Your Jump Height

There are professional tools you can use to measure your jumping progress. The Vertec Jump Test is a pole with notches that’s very simple. When you jump, you just reach for one of the notches. It’s easy to see your progress when you reach one notch further as time goes by. 

Many professional athletes use a video analysis tool through an app on their phone. What’s My Vertical can be downloaded and used to record your jump. You can use it to keep track of your vertical height and your hang time. 

Aside from these ways, you can also use a standard, traditional method to measure your vertical. You’ll just need a buddy and a pen. Jump near a wall. When you’ve reached your maximum height, have your friend make a mark on the wall where your feet are. Then keep the mark there for reference the next time you want to check. 

Qualities You Need to Jump Higher

The two most important skills you’ll need to build up in your body for a higher vertical are strength and speed. Strength comes to most people’s minds right away when they’re thinking about jumping higher. But  speed is just important. You need the strength to propel your body upward, but speed will enhance the explosive movement that jumping involves. There’s no indecisiveness allowed when it comes to jumping. You’ve got to give it your all if you want to reach your goals. 

How to Jump for Optimal Results

Jumping is something we’ve all done since we were old enough to run and play with friends, so you may think these tips are redundant. But there are some techniques that can help your form so that your jump goes higher than you may have thought possible. 

Don’t stand with your legs too far apart. You should be standing with your legs underneath your shoulders. Going any wider will make you lose momentum and efficiency. Think about starting in a squat position. 

Bend your knees and go down a bit before you jump. This is the equivalent of a “running head start.” If you bend down first you give yourself an extra boost of force that will prove to be critical. 

Lean forward slightly before you jump. While you’re swinging your arms back, tilt your body forward, bending at the waist. This will also increase your momentum. 

Best Workouts to Strengthen Your Vertical

Now here comes the best part: what moves will strengthen your power and speed to get you the athleticism you crave to match the strength of NBA players. 

1. Squat Jump

The squat jump is one of the best examples of an explosive movement to strengthen your legs and amp your speed. The movement is almost the same as jumping, but more intense. When you start with something harder, doing the easier version is always going to yield impressive results in your training sessions. 

How to Do the Squat Jump

To do the squat jump, you’ll need to know how to do the regular squat with good form. 

Start with your legs shoulder-width apart. Keep your back straight and your eyes forward, not down. Shift your weight so it digs into your heels, not your toes. Squat down as far as your knees will take you, and then raise yourself back to standing position. Remember not to arch your back at all and not to lean forward into your toes. 

For the jump, once you’ve reached the peak position of squatting as low as you can, instead of standing up you should jump up as high as you can. When you come down into landing position, you’ll go straight into the next squat without a pause. 

This move is powered by strength and includes a lot of cardio while building muscle. Your body will become accustomed to the jumping position, causing it to perform with much greater ease than it would be without the jump squat. 

2. Plyometric Exercises

Plyometrics is another term for “jumping exercises.” These workouts are similar to jumping, but with some variety and at a more intense level. They involve jumping onto boxes or ledges or jumping off them, jumping on one foot, and mostly using additional objects to supplement your strength exercises. They'reproven strength training and are used by Olympic jumpers.

The benefit of using these props to your workout is the effect they have on your muscles. Every time you jump from a box or onto a box you stretch your muscles a bit, getting them primed for the jumping. 

Some people are surprised to hear plyometrics recommended for jumping since many assume the best way tobuild strength is through weight lifting. Even though lifting certainly builds strength, it often doesn’t involve cardio. Different workouts build strength for different goals. If your goal is to become a bodybuilder, you’ll be just fine with the lifting. But if you’re looking to increase your athletic abilities, reach a weight loss goal, or  burn more fat, plyometrics should be part of that strength training. 

Here are some of the best plyometric exercises:

  • Box Jumps
  • Reverse Box Jumps
  • Stair Jumps

A girl doing box jumps in a gym.

Box Jumps

These are also known as depth jumps. For starting position, stand on the ground in front of the box. Most gyms supply blocks to be able to do this, but if you’re at home you can just get creative with different sizes of boxes, blocks, stools, or tables. 

Bend your knees, swing your arms behind you and jump up onto the box. You’ll want to do high reps of this. When lifting heavy weights, it’s recommended that you do a heavier weight with lower reps for the highest level of strength building. But for plyometrics, the more reps the better. These will get you agile and shape your muscles for jumping.

Reverse Box Jumps

Some people do these as a separate movement, apart from regular box jumps, while others jump up onto the box and then back down to the ground. There are additional benefits to reverse box jumps that you don’t get with the regular ones. 

When you drop down from a raised surface, you activate a specific set of muscles that is necessary for landing. On impact, the muscle groups are stretched instantly, which makes you more agile and positions your muscles for a higher jump. 

When doing them, try to land softly on the balls of your feet and then smoothly shift back onto your heels for a steady balance. 

Stair Jumps

Some people also call them step-ups. You don’t have to use stairs for the stair jump, although you certainly can if you have a set of tall, steep stairs. Since most people have plain old shallow stairs, it’s probably best to use the same box you use for the box jumps. 

These jumps will be done one at a time as if you’re walking up the stairs. You’ll jump up with one foot to land on the box. Your second foot lands quickly afterward so that you don’t lose your balance. You’ll step back down and repeat the jump, but leading with the second foot in the next round. 

As you get stronger, you can try landing with one foot and then not using the other to catch your balance. The better you’re able to balance yourself and the higher you’re able to jump, the stronger your legs. This move will work your glutes, hamstrings, calves, and core strength. It’s not an easy move, so mastering it will be a huge win. 

3. Rear-Leg Exercises

Not all jumping workouts have to actually be jumping. There are some moves that will specifically target your quads and  hamstrings. The elevated lunge is a prime example. 

To do it, you’ll need a bench and, ideally, a barbell or dumbbells for added weight. To do the elevated lunge, you should first master the traditional lunge. 

Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart. Take a giant step forward with one leg and then lean into that step. Your toes should be pointed straight ahead, not pointing inward or outward. Your back should be straight. 

You should not lift your rear leg, but keep your toes steady on the ground for balance. Keep your front foot flat on the ground. Move down until the knee of your rear leg almost touches the ground but not quite. You should feel a burn behind your rear leg in the hamstrings and in front of your front leg in the quads. 

Now for the rear-leg elevated lunge. Place your rear leg up on the bench. You should be in front of the bench, and your rear leg should be behind you, with the top of your foot facing the ground. Then perform the lunge the same way you would the regular one. Move downward until your knee is almost touching the ground but not quite.

This move adds much more difficulty since you’re relying on just one leg to support your entire bodyweight. Add even more resistance to the move by holding the barbell behind your head, resting on your shoulders. You can start with a barbell by itself, which generally weighs 40 pounds. As you get stronger, add plated weights to each end. If you don’t have a barbell, just hold two dumbbells, one in each hand, while you do the exercise. 

How Often Should I Do Jumping Training?

You shouldn’t do jumping training every day since your body will get worn out fast with this fast-paced, high-intensity workout. But if you really want to see results fast, we recommend doing it twice a week. On the other days of the week you can focus on more strength training and cardio training, but try to separate these two to give your body a break. If you’re not seeing the results you want as fast as you’d like, consider moving to three times a week, but most people see those results in two.


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