Increasing your vertical jump can unlock other athletic benefits, such as improving explosive, responsive movements. Strong leaping ability can help in all phases of your game.
The vertical jump test measures explosive power in two subsystems of musculature. This translates into tremendous athletic power.
Step 1 to improve your vertical is to strengthen your leg muscles, especially your thighs and glutes. The three glute muscles—gluteus maximus, minimus and medius—are responsible for building power and stabilizing the hip joint when you exert force. Inversely, the muscles of the quadriceps group stabilize and decelerate the landing after the jump. The hamstring group is another story. Its responsibility is to provide the shortening and lengthening impetus to propel you higher.
Two exercises to boost your vertical are rather simple.
These replicate the movement of the vertical jump while also working on speed and agility.
- Start with a box height equal to about 1/4 of your height (you can easily add plates or more boxes to increase the height)
- Start in a squat position with your knees slightly bent
- Leap onto the box, landing in the squat position
- Fully extend up without locking your joints
- Step down and repeat
- Complete as many as you can until form becomes compromised
This exercise isolates muscles that may cause imbalances you didn’t realize you had. This is a key to creating uniform power production in both legs.
- Begin in a two-legged squat position
- Hold one leg straight out in front of you with your toes pointing up
- Squat on one leg to a comfortable depth
- Do not allow your knee to extend beyond the frontal plane of your planted foot
- Fully extend up without locking your joint
- Complete as many reps as possible with proper form. When form begins to break down, rest.
- Perform 3-4 sets
These exercises are great because they are not resistance loaded. For those who have weight bearing problems due to injury, they can provide an advanced level of post-rehab training.
Successfully improving your vertical jump can take time, but starting with these simple neuromuscular adaptations can quickly make a difference in your level of achievement.