Improve Your Vertical Jump With Four Exercises

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The vertical jump is a fundamental skill for most sports. If you want to become a better athlete, you need to improve your jumping abilities through weight room work.

The vert is not about who can jump highest; it's about power. Your vertical jump height depends on the amount of power you can put into the ground with your legs and hips. That's why it's so heavily valued by football scouts and tested at the NFL Combine. The more powerful you are, the better all-around athlete you will be.

Below are four exercises athletes should perform during their heavy leg days to improve vertical jump height. They all closely mirror the jumping motion, but they focus on different aspects of training: explosive power, strength, plyometrics and real-world application.

Hang Pull
With this exercise, you perform a vertical jump with a barbell. It teaches you how to be explosive and put power into the ground.

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart in front of weighted bar on floor
  • Place hands on bar, slightly outside shoulder-width
  • Keep abs tight and shoulders slightly retracted
  • Raise bar using Deadlift technique and rest it comfortably against thighs
  • Lower bar quickly to just above knee level by pushing glutes back; then jump, fully extending hips, knees and ankles
  • Forcefully shrug shoulders, keeping chest up

Sets/Reps: 3-5x3-6

Strong legs and hips are essential for a good vertical jump. The Squat strengthens these muscles quite well.

  • Assume athletic stance with bar on back and feet slightly wider than hip-width
  • Keeping back straight and knees behind toes, sink hips back and lower into squat until thighs are parallel to ground
  • Extend hips and knees to drive up out of squat position
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3-5x6-12

Squat Jumps
This plyometric exercise transfers strength developed from the Squat into powerful vertical force. It also reinforces proper jumping and landing technique for injury prevention.

  • Begin with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width and hands behind head
  • Perform squat and explosively jump as high as possible
  • Land softly in squat position and immediately perform again
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3-5x6-10

Counter-Movement Jumps
This exercise is basically the vertical jump. To get better at the vert, you have to perform it!

  • Assume athletic stance
  • Raise arms to shoulder height, parallel to floor
  • Push hips back and lower into quarter-squat; keep weight on heels
  • Forcefully drive arms backward
  • Jump up as high as possible and throw arms up
  • Land with soft knees
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3-5x6-10

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock