How to Increase Your Vertical Jump

Increasing Your Vertical Jumping Ability

A single vertical jump for maximum height is one of the most intense exercises you can do.

Why? Because it requires you to utilize your entire lower body chain in a maximal effort contraction, to produce a maximal amount of force in a split second.

The important aspects of training to work on, to increase your vertical leap include:

Vertical Jump
Vertical Jump
  • Squatting strength – Maximal leg strength transfers directly to a vertical jump. A strong 1 rep max = a big jump.
  • Squatting speed – The faster you can squat, the more power you can generate, the higher you can jump.
  • Squatting power – Tied in directly with speed and strength, squat heavier and squat faster and you will jump higher.
  • Acceleration – You want to continue accelerating out of the hole all the way through the top of your jump.
  • Single leg strength – To eliminate strength imbalances and to improve neuromuscular coordination, train your legs individually.
  • Calf strength – Your calves are used at the end of the jump, so max calf strength can mean an extra inch on your vert.
  • Sprint speed – Sprinting trains the Type-II Fast Twitch muscle fibers, which are what you need to attain your highest jump. Acceleration applies here as well.
  • Hip drive – Your hips are responsible for a significant portion of jumping power from a parallel squat position to standing.
  • Glute activation – Your glutes are responsible for driving you out of the hole at the bottom of a squat or jump.

Do not train your legs every day.

Don’t jump every day, don’t squat every day, don’t hop every day. You need to rest and recover in order to grow. You can probably get away with training every other day, as long as you don’t kill your legs each time you train them. Keep your workouts brief, but train with maximal intensity. You get out of it, what you put into it. Remember that.

How to Train Your Vertical Leap

To attain maximal squat strength, you should be squatting in the 3-7 rep range once a week. Push it to the point of failure, but not beyond. Try an overloaded negative set maybe once a month.

To attain maximal squat speed, you should be using speed squats and jump squats. Light weights should be used, anywhere from 30-55% of your 1 rep max, but reps should be kept to 3-5 because you never want to slow down due to fatigue when training for speed.

To attain maximal squat power, you should use the strength and speed tips listed above, but also work on your acceleration. Consider using box squats with 60% of your one rep max for 3 reps, but rest on the box for just a split second.

To attain maximal acceleration, you should consider squatting and jumping with bands and/or chains. You always want the resistance to increase as you near the top of each rep.

Exercise idea – Box Jumps

  • Set up two benches about three feet apart.
  • Stand on one.
  • Now step off the bench with one foot or hop off with both feet, and land softly on both feet.
  • With only a minimal knee bend, immediately jump up onto the other bench.
  • Now step backwards off the bench with one foot or hop off with both feet, and land softly on both feet.
  • With only a minimal knee bend, immediately jump back up onto the first bench.
  • Repeat 5 times.
  • Try it by using only a single leg the whole time for a real challenge.
  • Use a weighted vest, or hold a sandbag or other odd object, to increase resistance.

Work your legs individually to develop single-leg strength, especially in the ankles, knees, and hips. Consider split-squats, standing one legged squats, and weighted step-ups using a barbell or holding dumbbells.

Exercise idea – Pistol Squats

  • Stand on a bench or a box at least 2 feet off the floor.
  • Leg one leg hang off the bench, straight down.
  • Squat down by bending the other leg like a one-legged squat.
  • Try to squat as low as possible – ass to ankle is ideal but difficult.
  • Don’t let the free leg touch the ground.
  • Stand up again.
  • Repeat until fatigued.
  • Add weight by holding dumbbells or using a weighted vest to develop more strength.
  • Add weight by using a barbell if you want, but it could be dangerous unless you have exquisite balance.

To develop calf strength, you should use standing and seated calf exercises. Calves can be training every 48 hours. Train them heavy, using 3-7 rep sets to develop serious calf strength. Consider jumping rope for additional calf work, but jump rope is mainly endurance training.

Check out this fitness tip about calf training.

Exercise idea – Split-Lunge Jumps off a Box

  • Stand with your right leg on a box or low bench and your left leg on the floor.
  • Use your right leg to jump up.
  • Use a scissor motion in the air to switch legs.
  • Land with your left leg on the box and your right leg on the floor.
  • Use your left leg to jump up.
  • Use a scissor motion in the air to switch legs.
  • Land with your right leg on the box and your left leg on the floor.
  • Repeat 10 times.
  • Add weight by using a barbell or by holding dumbbells, or add resistance by using mini-bands.
  • *** This exercise can also be done without a box. Just use a deep lunge with both feet always landing on the floor. ***

To attain maximal sprint speed, you gotta sprint. Sprints lasting 10-20 seconds are really all you need. Try adding a HIIT session or two to your weekly routine.

Exercise idea – A 30 minute HIIT routine using sprints and jumps.

  • Warm-up for 5 minutes with calisthenics, jogging, or jump rope.
  • 5 bodyweight jump squats.
  • Sprint for 10 seconds.
  • Jog slowly for 90 seconds or walk for 60 seconds.
  • Repeat 4 times.
  • Rest for 2 minutes.
  • Sprint for 10 seconds.
  • 10 bodyweight speed squats.
  • Jog slowly for 90 seconds or walk for 60 seconds.
  • Repeat 4 times.
  • Cool down and stretch for 5 minutes.

To work your hips, focus on thrusting your hips forward anytime you jump or squat. Consciously doing this will increase your hip activation. Consider adding pull-thrus to your routine using cables, kettlebells, dumbbells, or whatever else you can find.

Exercise idea – No Arm Hops

  • Keep your arms glued to your sides so that all the force is generated by your legs.
  • Bend down slightly and jump straight up.
  • Continue to keep your arms at your sides.
  • Upon landing, with only a minimal knee bend, immediately jump again.
  • Repeat 10 times.

To work your glutes, make sure you squat down as low as you can go. Your glutes will be activated when driving out of the hole. Consider squatting in a power rack or squat rack, such that you can pause in the hole by resting the barbell on pins. Then you can develop your starting strength by squatting explosively from a full pause.

There is more to training your vertical leap than I have outlined here, but by following these tips you should be able to improve your vert over the course of 4-6 months. If you plateau, you should consider speaking with an expert in plyometric and vertical leap training for additional training advice.

Also, I didn’t use this jump training article by Critical Bench to write my post, but it is still a great resource.

Flexibility and Stretching

Do not take stretching lighting. You must thoroughly stretch your quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, calves, and ankles after each training session. Spend at least 5 minutes stretching. Avoid static stretching before a workout, as it decreases strength, speed, and power; and increases the possibility of injury.

Read more about flexibility training.

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4 Responses to “How to Increase Your Vertical Jump”

  1. This is another great article you’ve given us. I know from my own experience that following these practical and efficient methods will produce big results. Thanks again for keepin’ it real.

  2. Thanks for the article… I only just began doing leg workouts and I actually really enjoy them.
    My roommate laughed at my for banging my shin on a failed box jump. We ended up betting next months rent on the fact I can dunk. I’ve never tried.. so this article will help! I’m 6’0.

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