Top 8 Vertical Exercises to Jump Higher

Exercise and exercise training are the most important things you can do to increase your vertical jump.  Jumping higher requires joint flexibility, tendon strength, balance and motor control, muscular strength, overall muscular balance, flexibility and power.   Your exercise regimen should include exercises that help strengthen these areas if you want to jump higher.

This article discusses the top 8 vertical exercises to help you jump higher.  To begin with, plyometric exercises should be incorporated into your training program as they help build power and speed and improve coordination and agility, this article discusses the top 3.  However, they are not the only exercises that can help improve your vertical.  Plyometrics should be combined with strength training exercises such as squats as leg strength is the biggest factor in improving your vertical jump.  This article discusses the top 3 squat exercises to improve your vertical.  Dorsiflexion exercises for ankle strength and jumping rope are two more exercises that are essential to help you to jump higher.  For all exercises start with 8 to 12 reps with 1 to 3 cycles.

Plyometric Exercises
Plyometric exercises are one of the best ways to improve the ‘explosive’ power needed to increase your vertical jump.  Plyometric exercises increase muscle power by continuously stretching and contracting your muscle in rapid succession.  Following are the top 3 polymetric exercises (note that these exercises use your body weight to stress the muscle, not external ‘weights’):

1. Two Foot Ankle Hop:

Start with your feet together and using only your ankles and calves, hop up and down concentrating on your hop height and ‘exploding’ back off the ground after you land.
2. Rim Jumps:

Start by standing under a basketball hoop.  Jump up aiming to reach the rim with alternate hands.  As in the ankle hops, concentrate on getting as high as you can and exploding off the ground after you land.
3.       Box to Box Jumps:
For this exercise you will be using two boxes that can support your weight separated about 3 feet apart.  The height of the boxes will determine the difficulty.  Start by standing on one box and stepping off onto the ground with both feet then jump up onto the other box.  Repeat by stepping off the current box, placing both feet on the ground and jumping back onto the first box.  As always, concentrate on getting as high as you can and exploding off the ground when you jump.

Squat Exercises
Squat exercises should be used for strengthening leg muscles.  When combined with plyometrics you will cover all of the requirements (as mentioned in the introduction of this article) needed to improve your vertical.  Squats are also beneficial because of the triple extension (extension of the ankle, knee and hip) your body performs when jumping.  The following exercises are the top 3 squat exercises for improving your vertical.

1.       Basic Squat
Start in with legs hip width apart and bend at knees as if sitting down.  Keep your back straight and keep your knees above your feet.  Bend until your thighs are almost perpendicular to the ground then rise up slowly.
2.       Paused Jump Squat
Start as if you are going to do the basic squat.  Instead of rising up slowly when your thighs are roughly parallel to the ground, you want to pause for 3 to 5 seconds then ‘explode’ up in a forceful jump driving through the balls of the feet at ‘toe-off’.
3.       Olympic Squat
This exercise should be done in a squat weight rack with a beginning weight of 25 to 45 lbs with a spotter.  Place the weight bar behind your head and set on your trapezoid (back of neck).  Squat down to the thighs almost parallel to the floor, shins vertical, chest up.  Keep knees neutral, feet pointed straight forward.    Rise to start position and repeat (rise faster than you would for a normal squat).
Dorsiflexion Exercise
The dorsiflexion is a muscle in your ankle and a primary muscle used in jumping and the dorsiflexion exercise strengthens this muscle.  To perform the dorsiflexion exercise, hold on to something stable such as a table, back of a chair, or the wall.  Start with your feet flat on the floor.  Gently rock back onto your heels and end with your toes straight in the air.  Pause for 5 to 10 seconds.  Very slowly roll back into your starting position.

Jump Rope Exercise
Jumping rope actually utilizes all major muscle groups of the body but for the purposes of improving vertical jump you will want to jump rope to strengthen the calf, quadricep, hamstring, and glute muscles.  By jumping rope on your toes your calf muscles will strengthen, this is where your vertical leap actually stems from.  Jump rope for several minutes jumping on your toes.

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