Whether you’re training for the NBA combine or just want to boost your athleticism on and off the court, vertical jump training will certainly improve your upward explosiveness. I will walk you through a basic training program to help boost your vertical leap in just a few short months. The routine will include cardio, stretching, and plyometrics, or jump training. For more information on plyometric training, check out this really neat course.
In order to see improvements in your leap over time, you must accurately test your current vertical leap before you begin. This can be done at a gym or with a friend on an outdoor wall to measure. To begin the program, I will give you a variety of exercises to choose from in order to keep your training interesting and fun. Try to train only every other day to give your body time to recover in between sessions. To help guide you through the program, I have provided some explanations of the exercises you will be practicing.
1. Choose one of the following 3 exercises as a warm up for a total of about 2 minutes.
Make sure you hop with both feet at the same time and keep a steady pace.
Lateral jumps (Single/Double Leg)
Lateral jumps are hops with both feet, from side to side, over a line or an object such as a cone, and back again. This exercise can be performed with two legs or just one.
Forward and Backward jumps (Single/Double Leg)
Forward and backward jumps are hops with both feet, going forward to backward, over a line or an object such as a cone, and back again. This exercise can also be performed with two legs or just one.
2. Stretch all major muscles, including the hip-flexors.
In addition to stretching calves, hamstrings, quads, groins and glutes, there is one crucial exercise to add to your stretching routine. To improve vertical leap, you will want to stretch the hip flexors. Many people neglect to stretch this area and as a result, the muscles are very tight and inflexible. To begin, start with one knee on the ground and with the other leg, lunge forward so you begin to feel the back hip flexor stretch. The knee of the front foot should not cross the toes of that foot, if it does, extend that front foot further out.
3. Choose 2 intermediate exercises to do 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions.
The key to performing squats is proper form. Squatting is like sitting back in an imaginary chair. Your legs should be shoulder width apart and your knees should never cross the toes. Essentially, you sit back, keeping your back upright and your butt back. You can also extend your arms in front of you for balance. This exercise will work both your legs and your butt. If you are interested in more exercises to sculpt your legs and butt, check out the course on yoga for buttocks.
Four corners (Single/Double Leg)
In order to do this exercise, you need for corners approximately a foot and a half apart. You could use chalk or tape to mark the surface you are jumping on, or improvise by using the corners of a sidewalk square. Begin the exercise at one corner and hop around the box as quickly as possible. You can alternate going clockwise and counter-clockwise. This exercise can be done with two legged hops or one legged hops.
This exercise can be performed on flat ground or off of a step. You start flat footed and then begin to lift yourself by raising up on your toes. You should hold the raised position for at least 5 seconds before lowering and beginning again.
Begin by doing a proper squat, then when you explode upwards, you should tuck your knees to your chest, as high as you can. Land by bending your knees and absorbing the shock. Return to the original squat position then begin again.
Begin by doing a proper squat, then explode upwards as high as you can reach. Use your arms for momentum to increase your vertical leap. When you land, bend your knees and absorb the impact before you jump again.
4. Choose 1 advanced exercise to do 3 sets of 4-6 repetitions.
This exercise requires a sturdy box 1 – 3 feet high or other surface sturdy enough to support your weight. Depending on your comfort level and athleticism, start with the shorter box and as you begin to improve, you can advance to higher boxes. Before you jump, you should lower yourself by bending your knees into squat position, but only at about 60 degrees this time. When you are ready, start with your arms behind your back and swing them forward as you jump up and onto the box. Step off the box and repeat the exercise.
This exercise begins on top of the box, you can even use a high box that would be too high for you to jump onto. Begin with a box height that you are comfortable stepping off of, perhaps 2 – 4 feet. As you step off the box, you should land with bent knees, on the balls of both feet and immediately explode back up into a vertical leap. Once again, use your arms to help propel you upwards and extend as high as you can. Land with bent knees to absorb the shock, then get back on the box and repeat the exercise.
Leap frog jumps
These hops are very deep jumps where the person aims for a longer distance, as opposed to height. Begin by lowering yourself into a deep squat position and swing your arms to give you momentum going forward. Remember to land with bent knees to absorb the impact.
Begin with a normal skip and as you land, push off of one leg as high as you can, while lifting the same arm and the opposite knee. So if you push off of your right leg, your right arm goes up with your left knee, as high as you can reach. Alternate legs and do the skips one after another, until you break in between sets.
Now you have the tools that you need to improve your vertical leap. If you are looking for even more exercises to get lean and sculpted legs, try this course on getting ripped and athletic legs. Remember to always warm-up and stretch before performing any of the vertical jump training exercises. I recommend beginning the training program with the repetitions above and after about a month, you can increase the repetitions of intermediate exercises to 3 sets of 12 and advanced exercises to 3 sets of 8 respectively. Once you have improved your vertical leap, try our home training program and skip the gym.