Personal trainers are likely to have athletic clients solicit them for guidance to improve their vertical jump, whether it’s for basketball, volleyball, or jumping events. Even sprinters will benefit from improving their vertical. There are many proven exercises that will increase the height of someone’s jump and many reliable sources teaching the proper training techniques and cues. Our job as fitness coaches is to take this information and customize it to suit the need of each individual that we coach to avoid the possibility of overtraining.
Plyometrics for Vertical Jump
Plyometrics are one of the best ways to increase the height of one’s vertical jump. The word “plyometric” is derived from Latin meaning measurable increases. Plyometrics are exercises that enable a muscle to reach maximum strength in as short a time as possible, creating power and explosiveness within the muscle. Plyometrics have been used effectively since the days of the Coliseum and were considered to be the reason behind the quick growth in competitiveness for Europeans in track and field. Adding non-traditional techniques can greatly improve results of improving the vertical jump and can be functionally beneficial to the trainee.
However, the following program does not include any plyometric jumping exercises. That’s right! You can increase your vertical jump without plyometric jumping exercises!
First and foremost the core must be activated and then strengthened. It doesn’t matter how strong or explosive the legs may be if you have inadequate core control. The core is the center of the body through which all movement passes. Having a strong core will allow the power generated from the legs to more efficiently transfer to the upper body to propel you from the ground.
The stability ball allows you to recruit the muscle fibers of the prime movers as well as the stabilizing and postural muscles giving your core a solid workout. Two effective exercises on the stability ball are the crunch and hyperextension.
Developing not only the strength but increasing the explosiveness and neuromuscular response of the legs is what will allow a vertical jump to soar to new heights. The biggest mistake most people make is isolating the muscle groups in the leg. However, jumping requires the coordination of all the muscle groups, propelling the body off the ground If we don’t train with the end result in mind, then the end result will be harder to come by.
The following three exercises for the legs are ideal to improve jumping height:
Leg cranks are by far one of the best bodyweight exercises I have found to work the legs. This is a quick-paced metabolic circuit that not only works on strength and endurance, it also improves the lactic acid threshold. Lactic acid threshold is the point where the demand for lactic acid meets the supply. Improving lactic acid threshold will allow you to train at a high level of intensity for a longer period of time. Leg cranks are a series of exercises performed one right after the other with an ultimate goal is to complete the entire series in 1:30 minutes or less: 24 squats – 24 lunges – 24 split jumps – 12 jump squats.
The triple threat is also a series of exercises performed in succession with a stability ball. The exercises consist of: supine low bridges, supine leg curls, high supine bridges with feet on top of the ball and keeping the butt from touching the floor throughout. The number of repetitions will vary depending on an individual’s level of strength. Generally speaking you want to perform anywhere from 8 – 15 repetitions of each exercise. Once you can complete 15 repetitions of each exercise perform the triple threat using one leg at a time for added difficulty.
High Knee Lunges
Although a basic exercise, high knee lunges pack a powerful punch. High knee lunges are a modified form of the plyometric exercise called Power Skips. To perform this exercise you start by standing with feet together. As you begin to lunge forward you lift the knee of the lunging leg high so that your upper leg becomes parallel with the ground. Repeat process as you return to the starting position. The ability of the muscle to resist against the impact of the landing and the explosiveness of the return simulates what the muscle experiences during a jumping motion.
If you are looking for something different to increase your vertical give this workout a try. Although I cannot guarantee that you will jump “Like Mike”, I will guarantee an increase in your vertical and improved explosive strength. Incorporate this program into your normal routine no more than two to three times a week and let the results speak for themselves.