If you’re looking for a way to increase your vertical, these are the best exercises to jump higher. There’s not going around it, you need to put in the work yourself. Because no one else will or can do it for you.
Being able to jump high isn’t just about slapping together a workout or getting special pair of shoes and results happen. It takes time and effort, but more importantly choosing the right exercises and doing the proper workouts.
When looking at the biomechanics of the jump, anyone can tell you that working the legs is what’s needed. This is true, after all jumping comes from the legs and is a measurement of the power they can deliver.
But there is more to it.
Because the human body works as a whole, the whole body needs to be able to work as a unit in order to get the highest jump possible.
This is why the exercises below cover different body parts.
Top Exercises to Increase Vertical Jump
1. Back Squat
When it comes to developing leg power, the back squat is the best exercises for the job. Doing the back squat requires loading a barbell on your shoulders, bending your knees and using the power of your legs to push you and the weight on your shoulders back up.
Studies have shown that intermediate athletes who were put on a squat training program of twice a week showed increase in the peak height of their jump and also in their sprint running speed.
Always remember that it is important to learn proper squatting technique before moving on to heavier loads.
Another very powerful exercise for anyone looking to increase their vertical leap is the barbell deadlift. Like the back squat, it is essential to take the time out the learn proper lifting technique with this exercise because the back is involved.
While the squat puts more focus on the quads (front of the thighs), the deadlift works the entire posterior chain (the back side). The posterior chain is made up of the lower back muscles, the glutes (butt), hamstrings and calves.
The deadlift exercises works all those and just as importantly trains hip extension which plays a big part in the jumping motion.
The pulling motion of the deadlift also works the back muscles which help prevent back injuries that sidelines a lot of high jumpers.
3. Leg Curls
Many trainers often prefer using free weights instead of machines because it trains their athletes to lift and balance the weight. Using the leg curl machine is one of the best ways to isolate the hamstring muscles.
Hamstrings are among the most important muscles to strengthen if you plan of increasing your vertical leap. It provides that pushing power off the floor and that extra spring and explosiveness we all want to have.
An additional benefit of training the hamstrings is it improves sprint speed. Something that helps with quickness and getting out on the fast break.
4. Glute Ham Raise
One of the lesser known exercises that many athletes try to avoid is the glute ham raise. You can do this using a machine in the gym or without one.
If your gym doesn’t have the machine, just ask a partner to hold down your legs so that you can recline and come back up.
The glute ham raise or GHR, works the entire posterior chain including the lower back and hamstrings. It is a difficult exercises which is why many people skip it or just opt to use the leg curl machine.
The benefits of doing it is that is allows you to focus on the posterior chain with one single exercise. It also makes them work together.
5. Barbell Lunges
You can perform lunges with barbells or dumbbells.
The difference between the two is that the barbell rests on your shoulders so you bear the brunt of the entire weight. With dumbbells, you hold the weight on your hands. So the arms take off some of the weight.
Lunges are a one legged version of the squat. So while the squat works both legs at a time (bilateral), the lunge works one leg a time.
For a jumper it is important to be able to take off and jump high with two feet as well as one foot. After all there are times when you can jump with both legs, like during rebounding, and other times, with off one leg, like during lay-ups.
6. Split Squat
Split squats are an advanced version of the lunge. In this exercise one leg is raised to the back (often resting on a bench behind you).
This makes the exercise more challenging as the front leg is forced to both push you and the weight back up as well as keep you balanced.
This exercise is often called the Bulgarian Split Squat also. It mainly works the quads (front thighs), but also trains the butt and hamstrings to a lesser extent.
The position of the split squat also allows you to stretch the hip flexors which are often very tight in most athletes. Having extra flexibility in the hip flexors play a big part in adding inches to your jump.
7. Calf Raises
Calf raises work the lower part of the leg, namely the calves.
While the prime movers of the jumping motion are the quads and the muscles of the posterior chain, there is one small muscle group that makes a good contribution to jumping ability, the calves.
The exercises above help build the big muscles. To maximize your jumping potential, you also need to work on the minor muscles which are the calves.
Calf raises help strengthen the calves as well as the ankles and toes. Having strong ankles prevent injuries while the toes allow for a good take off and push.
Training with calf raises provide an extra benefit in that during the situations when you need to jump up quickly like in a second or third jump when you don’t have time for bending at the knee, you’ll still be able to go up high enough to contest for the ball.
8. Romanian Deadlift
This variety of the deadlift works both the glutes and hamstring muscles and to a certain degree the lower back. It also trains the hip hinge as well as being able to spring back up using your hamstrings.
The movement used in the Romanian deadlift helps strengthen the power that comes from the hips and being able to transfer it to your jump.
Putting the Exercises Together into a Jump Workout
Just as important as knowing what the exercises for jumping higher are is how to put them together into an effective training program.
- Knowing how many reps and sets to do and in what order as well as how many times a week to do them is the difference between getting no results or overtraining, and getting significant increases in your jump height.
One way to skip the headaches in trying to figure this out ourselves is to use proven jump training programs. Since they’ve tried and tested them for us, and have proven track record of results, all we have to do is follow them.
Our two favorite jump training programs are:
- the Vert Shock (shorter program, less training needed, no weights required), and also
- the Jump Manual (all-around training).