How To Improve Your Vertical Leap
If you’re an athlete, then working to increase your vertical leap could help you go further in your sport.
A strong vertical leap can help you excel in several sports, including basketball, gymnastics, and volleyball.
It will also help to improve your overall athleticism and flexibility.
Increasing your vertical leap is possible with calisthenics, plyometrics, and weight training.
Tips To Improve Your Vertical Leap
Wear extra weight
Add weight to your body and wear it all day long.
This will fool your body into thinking that you are heavier than you, and when you take it off, you will be able to leap higher.
Some examples of added resistance include weighted vests, hyper gravity weight belts and ankle weights.
Flexibility is defined as the range of motion in a joint or series of joints.
It is important to increase the flexibility of your Achilles, calves, hamstrings, and hip flexors.
This will aid in increasing your vertical jump.
By improving the range of motion you can take your ankle and hip joints through, you can increase your potential to produce power.
The more power you can produce, the higher you can jump.
Work your calf muscles
The calf muscles are sometimes overlooked when it comes to vertical leap, yet they are of utmost importance.
They are responsible for the final drive force when you are leaping.
To strengthen them, get a pair of jumpsoles (shoes elevated at the toes) and wear them while you are training or just walking around during the day.
Do some resisted plyometrics
Plyometrics are exercises that involve short, fast muscle contractions followed by explosive movements.
Perform these exercises while wearing your added resistance to increase the effect.
Some examples of exercises are jump squats, box jumps, butt kicks, leaping lunges, stair hops, bounding and power skips.
Strengthen the core
When it comes to jumping, a lot of the power needed is generated from the core.
This includes the upper and lower abs, the obliques which are on the sides of the ribcage, and the lower back muscles.
When you increase the strength in your legs and hips, you will automatically improve your ability to produce force, which results in increased explosiveness.
The more force you can exert against the ground—the higher your ability to jump.
It is extremely important for a strength training program to be safe; nobody can jump higher when they are injured.
To reduce orthopedic stress while strength training, you should work within an appropriate repetition range.
For most football players, sets with 6-15 reps are usually appropriate. You should avoid maxing out (seeing how much you can lift for one repetition) as that can be extremely dangerous.
Stretch it out
If your muscles are tight, then you are not going to be able to extend completely, which will impact your leaping ability.
To create more flexibility, stretch all the muscles of the body with a specific focus on the quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves.
To get a full-body stretch workout, attend yoga classes.
EXERCISE 1 – Squat jumps
Technique Set your feet shoulder-width apart and bend your hips and knees. Sink back into your heels, then explode upwards, jumping as high as you can.
Absorb the impact of the leap in the front part of your feet, transferring the weight into the middle and rear of your feet.
How it helps This exercise will develop strength in your legs, giving you power.
EXERCISE 2 – Box jumps
Technique Stand in front of a 30cm-high box. Jump as high as you can, landing on the box with both feet. Steady yourself, step off the box and repeat. Your legs should be fully extended at the peak of your jump – don’t tuck them in.
How it helps Box jumps improve your agility and explosive jumping power for rising to meet a cross.
EXERCISE 3 – Lateral jumps
Technique Stand to the side of a mini-hurdle. Using the squat jump technique, leap sideways over the hurdle, swinging your arms to generate more momentum. Repeat in the opposite direction.
How it helps This workout will improve your ability to dodge tackles and attack the ball from different angles.
EXERCISE 4 – Single leg hops
Technique Stand on one leg, leaping upwards as high as you can, using your take-off leg and arms to propel your leap. Land on both legs and repeat the single leg hop off the other foot.
How it helps Working on these jumps will train your legs for single leg hops over tackles, and continuing your run after landing.
Best Exercises to Increase Vertical Jump
Squats are probably the most important lower body exercises around. Depending on how you use them you can target the front of the legs (quads) and also work them so that they focus on the hamstrings for explosiveness.
The 3 squats variations that help the jumper most are the:
- Back squat
- Box squats
- Front squat
Researchers from the University of Las Vegas observed that doing 4 warm up squats then 90% of your maximum half squat or quarter squat exercise improved vertical jump.
In a longer study where 22 high level athletes were divided into a group that were made to perform squat training twice a week for 2 months and another group that continued a regular routine.
The squat training group not only showed bigger improvements in vertical jump after the 2 months but also better sprint performance.
Box squats are a great exercise that teaches athletes to explode upwards once they reach the box. This gives them the power they need when preparing to launch themselves when jumping.
The other major lower body exercise that battles the squat for best overall mass building exercise is the barbell deadlift. Like the squat, it is important to learn proper form when doing the deadlift specially as you get to heavier loads.
While the squat focuses on building leg strength and power, the deadlift focuses on the posterior chain and is a pulling exercise.
When it comes to jumping, the athlete benefits from the knee and hip extension power this exercise provides as well as strength to the back muscles, quads, hamstrings and glutes.
As far as scientific proof goes, researchers from Texas Tech University did a research where 54 subjects were split into a group that were given supervised deadlift training two times every week for 10 weeks and a control group.
At the end of the period the deadlift training groups showed an average of close to 1.5 inches increase in vertical jump height. More importantly their jump became more explosive thanks to the increase in rapid torque capacities of their knee and hip muscles.
Bulgarian Split Squats
Balance is key for the athlete and while the two exercises above focuses on bilateral (two leg) strength, it is important that you are able to take off even with your off leg.
The Bulgarian split squat is similar to the lunge except that the rear leg rests on an elevated surface, which is usually a bench.
This position forces you to balance yourself as well as isolate each leg so that it takes the brunt of the weight on its own. The Bulgarian split squat works the quads and glutes while giving the hip flexor of the rear leg a good stretch.
Trap Bar Deadlifts
For tall players or those with long legs, the squat often becomes a more difficult exercise.
One other issue with athletes and squats is that they need to be taught proper form, which can sometimes go away once they start to fatigue later in the training session or the set.
Trap Bar Deadlifts are a cross between the deadlift and the squat where you have the pushing motion of the squat and the pulling motion of the deadlift.
This exercise offers the athlete excellent range of motion and less to worry about form.
Trainers will often have the athlete stand on top of a 4 inch high box in order to increase the range of motion of this exercise.
Doing so increases the engagement of the posterior chain which is very important in improving one’s jumping capability.
If you look at jumping from a compartmentalized point of view, the main muscles that are working will be the legs.
However, looking at the athlete as a whole, the core plays an important role in allowing us to jump higher. The motion of the upper body helps build momentum to lift us higher during jumps.
With a strong core, you’ll be able to transfer more of this power and momentum from the upper body to boost whatever power your legs are already providing.
This is one of the components many training programs often miss, core training, but is something covered in the better jump programs like the Jump Manual.
It is important to use weighted resistance since strength development and not endurance is what you’re trying to achieve.