If you’ve ever wanted to improve your vertical jump — whether for sports like football, basketball or volleyball, or simply to gain some well-deserved bragging rights at the gym — you’ve probably wondered what it takes to get that type of air. Luckily there are some specific weight lifting exercises you can do to increase your vertical jump. Before you know it you could reach the heights of NBA players and find yourself jumping 28-34 inches in the air using both strength and power training to get you there.
Before starting your weight lifting regimen for increasing your vertical jump, take measurements to see where you are starting from. The simplest method for measuring your vertical jump height at home is to start by standing with your side to a wall. With your feet flat on the floor and your hands dusted with chalk, touch the highest part of the wall you can reach. This is called your “standing reach.” Next jump as high as you can, using your chalked fingertips to once again touch the wall when you’ve reached the peak of your vertical jump.
Try this a few times to get an accurate measurement of your jump. Finally measure the difference between the standing reach height and the height of your mark the wall from your vertical jump. This measurement will tell you the height of your starting jump. For other methods to measure your vertical jump read here.
Muscles Used in a Vertical Jump
If you want to increase the height of your vertical jump you need to know which muscles are working hard to give you that height — and you might be surprised at the list.
Glutes – these muscles help with hip extension
Hamstrings– these muscles help with hip extension, knee flex and absorbing the landings
Calves– these muscles help with ankle extension
Quadriceps– these muscles help with knee extension
Abdominals and Core– these muscles provide trunk stability.
Warm Up for a Vertical Jump
Vertical jumping is high impact activity, it requires explosive action and a lot of power to gain height. Before trying any jump or weightlifting routine to increase your vertical jump we recommend a great warm-up program to get the best results. Start with your arms overhead and swing them down, behind the hips as you drop into a squat, then swing the arms back to the original position. Use these pre-swing motions to warm up your body and prepare for the jump. Use these same actions before jumping to give your body the momentum it needs to reach higher.
Weightlifting Exercises to Increase Your Vertical Jump
Increasing your vertical jump will include both strength training and plyometrics. While strength training will include slow controlled movements, plyometrics will prepare your body for the explosive power of jumping with activities like hopping and jumping drills.
Equipment needed: Barbell, weight plates
How to: Bend at your hips and knees like you are moving into a squat, then grab the barbell off the ground using an overhand grip on the bar. Hands should be just beyond shoulder width apart. While holding onto the barbell push yourself to a standing position as you thrust your hips forward. Repeat slowly, focusing on form and gradually adding more weight over time. Do 10 reps for each set.
Why this works: Barbell deadlifts work your glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings.
Dumbbell Jump Squat
Equipment needed: Dumbbells
How to: Hold your dumbbells at your sides, one in each hand, palms facing each other. Move into a squat position and then jump as high as you can. Focus on landing softly, knees bent. Repeat 10 times. The weight of your dumbbells should be heavy enough that you have to work hard by the 7th rep to finish the 10 full reps. Repeat 3 times.
Why this works: Jumping while holding weights is a great way to gain height. Once the weight is removed you’ll be amazed at how light you feel and how high you can jump. This
Exercise strengthens your quads, hamstrings and glutes and your hips.
Equipment Needed: Barbell
How to: Place your hands evenly on the bar and back up under the bar so that it can rest comfortably on your shoulders. While keeping your feet shoulder width apart lift the barbell from the rack using your legs. Keep your feet flat on the floor, weight centered and slowly bend your knees as if you are sitting on a chair. Keep your torso erect, do not lean forward. Never relax or drop down, move slowly and keep control. Return to the starting position and repeat.
Why this works: Squats are one of the best weightlifting exercises for building lower body muscle. This exercise engages multiple muscles for greater leg power and strength.
Equipment Needed: A sturdy box
How to: This is a plyometric move that will improve your vertical jump height over time. Find a box that you can jump onto. Start with a low height so you can focus on form first (plus, hitting your shins repeatedly on a box is a painful way to learn the proper starting height).
Stand in front of the box with your feet shoulder-width apart, squat partway down while swinging your arms back, then swing them forward and jump onto the box as softly as possible. Your landing position should have flat feet and knees slightly bent. Jump back down, landing as softly as possible. Repeat 3 sets of 5 reps with great form.
Box jumps work all of your leg muscles and strengthen your core. Box jumps also boost endurance and are a great cardio workout.
Don’t forget that jumping is a high-impact activity and isn’t for everybody. If you find it is hurting your knees, hips or ankles you’ll want to rest your body between workouts or build more slowly towards your goal.
Finally, the best exercise when trying to reach any challenging goal is mental exercise! Practice training your mind — achieving a high vertical jump will take time and perseverance and mental toughness. Visualize yourself jumping higher, trust yourself and have confidence that your hard work will pay off. Finally, persevere — it will take time, lots of repetition and energy but if you are willing to put in the work day in and day out, even when you don’t see results at first then you WILL accomplish your goals.