In your elementary school days, you probably remember blasting off to try and touch the top of an open door. You might even recall doing tests for jumping to measure your vertical leap in a physical education class. Your vertical leap plays a significant factor in a variety of sports, which is why all athletes should develop it.
If you’re reading this article, you’re probably here after watching another highlight reel of LeBron James rattling rims after endless monster jams. Of course, jumping higher is closely associated with the game of basketball, but it comes in handy in a number of other activities–such as volleyball, football, and soccer. Your vertical leap is a measure of your explosiveness as an athlete, making it equivalent to a car’s horsepower. in this guide, we’ll help you improve your vertical jumping abilities through drills to strengthen your legs, proper recovery methods, and the appropriate gear. You may not end up dunking, but we’re confident you’ll increase your hops.
Safety Above All Else
Before you start any type of new exercise, you’ll want to set up a meeting with your primary physician to make sure your body is ready for the workload. Once you get the green light for the proposed workouts, you can get started in building your vertical explosiveness to upgrade your athleticism. Even if you think you can handle the exercises presented, contacting a doctor first is still highly recommended. And if your knees are in bad shape, you’ll need to remedy that problem first before even thinking about increasing your vert.
Let’s get this out of the way, in case you haven’t heard of this information already: ankle weights do not work. When you wear ankle weights and jump, they only improve your ability to hop up with heavy feet. They don’t allow you to develop your leg muscles to propel your body weight upward and off the ground. Ankle weights will also distort your coordination and form, increasing your potential for injuries. We’ll be ditching any ankle weight exercises and focus on plyometric and strength-training exercises to build up your stems.
Importance Of Increasing Your Vert
Developing A Superpower
In most sports, your explosiveness can give you a significant edge against the opposing players. Your vertical jumping ability is a prime asset, as it is a solid indicator of your propensity to burst into action. Going 0-60 mph as an athlete is critical in executing plays to bring home the gold. An individual’s jumping ability is a display of power and the ability to use your strength.
Basketball is too obvious a sport to use as an example, so we’ll go with the game of football. In football, the vertical jump test is more telling about a player’s abilities than the 40-yard dash. This is because explosiveness translates to speed, quickness, agility, and power. Football players have to propel their body up to catch or intercept the ball as well, so there are also clear benefits to increasing your vert. On top of that, exploding from a static position is crucial to the game, as it is in basketball and most other sports. The explosive power in your legs comes in handy in boxing, soccer, volleyball, and many more activities.
The ability of an athlete to project their body upward is a barometer for the effectiveness of their training and recovery. Fatigue typically manifests itself by affecting your high-speed movements first, so if you can’t get up in the air efficiently, then you may be overtraining. Also, you can measure the quality of your endurance by observing your vertical jumping ability, as well as monitor the endurance of your opponents in a game based on their level of explosiveness.
Train Your Ability To Explode
Now it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty and start shaping your legs and condition them to perform like springs. We can’t promise that you’ll jump clear over a 7’2” center in basketball like Vince Carter in his prime, but you will improve your vert and explosiveness. We’ve selected several exercises to build up the strength of your hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, hips, and gluteus maximus. If at any point you feel sore or in pain, stop immediately to assess the problem.
Depth jumps: You will start on top of a CrossFit box or platform. Then, you simply step off the box and immediately jump upward after landing on the ground. By doing so, you’ll improve the reaction time of your lower body muscles. Use a box that will take your feet about 6 to 8 inches off the ground. When you explode up into the air, do so with the intention of jumping as high as you can. Start by doing three sets of three reps for a single session.
Toe raises: Place your feet shoulder-width apart and rise up on your toes and the balls of your feet, holding the position for a few seconds before lowering yourself back down slowly. For a more challenging toe raise exercise, you can do this by standing on a box with your heels hanging off the edge. This exercise builds strength in your calf muscles, allowing you to generate plenty of force. You can start by doing about three sets of 15 to 20 toe raises.
Squat jumps: Once again, you’ll start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, and then lower yourself into a squat. Use proper technique for doing a squat by keeping your back straight and your knees above your toes. Right after you squat all the way down to the ground, jump straight up into the air. For more intense squat jumps, do this drill while carrying a medicine ball. Do three sets for 10-20 squat jumps per workout session.
Jump rope: Any sort of plyometrics, including hops and bouncing movements, allows you to increase the power in your legs. Jumping rope is a fun way to go about increasing the strength in your stems while also building your cardio. Jumping off of both feet at the same time is standard, but alternating feet is ideal so you can work on balance as well. Make sure you’re bouncing on your toes and landing on them, as well. Try to shoot for five minutes of non-stop jump rope action per session.
Max jump: For this drill, you’ll be jumping as high as you can, practicing your vertical leap technique. Lead up to the jump, get your arms involved by swinging them to gain momentum, and land safely on both feet. We also advise measuring your maximum jump so you can track your progress. You can acquire a Vertec Vertical Jump tester or observe what part of a backboard you can touch.
Proper Post-Workout Cooldown
When you see athletes on television, you usually see their training and performance on the field. However, a large part of sustaining your athletic ability over a long period of time is by practicing proper recovery techniques. By doing drills and workouts to increase your vertical leap, your legs will be taking quite a toll. Fitness recovery is paramount in decreasing your chances of sustaining injuries. To help keep you safe, we have provided you with fitness recovery tips to guide you in taking care of yourself as you embark on the fitness journey of upgrading your vert. Remember to do a short warm-up and stretch before your workout in addition to practicing recovery methods after your sessions. Here are several tips to help you recover after every workout to increase your jumping ability:
Compression: Wear tights and compression shirts during and after your workout. Recovery compression apparel will hug your body, reducing muscle stiffness, soreness, and swelling by increasing the blood flow of your body. Tight-fitting fitness garments also assist in holding muscles in place.
Foam Rolling: Use a foam roller to roll out the different muscles of your legs. If you have knots in your muscles, using a foam roller will help unravel them. By using your body weight and proper pressure with a foam roller, you can combat the normal wear-and-tear of your knees, calves, hamstrings, and gluteus maximus.
Icing: Ice is an athlete’s best friend. Your knees will undoubtedly become strained, especially if you’re into sports that require plenty of explosiveness and jumping. Wrapping your knees up in ice bags after a gym session will reduce any swelling. Ice will also constrict the blood vessels of sore muscles, allowing them additional time to metabolize any leftover lattice aside and hydrogen. Not to mention, ice treatment can reduce muscle spasm and pain.
Stretching: It is ideal to do stretches before and after any workout. A cool down stretch after your vertical jump drills is always a good idea, so don’t skip it. It doesn’t take too long and it will bring your breathing and heart-rate back to status quo. There are three stretches you should incorporate into your recovery to address your legs: figure-four stretch, lunging hip flexor, and kneeling quad stretch.
Gear To Get Air
Essential Equipment For Blast Off
Before you get started in vertical leap workouts to improve your jumping ability, you’ll need the proper workout gear. We’ve created a list of apparel and equipment you’ll need to maximize your efforts and prevent injuries. Take a look at our picks and prepare to improve yourself as an athlete.
Nike Grip Socks
When you’re jumping up and down often, you’ll need cushy socks to soften the blow to prevent an alarming shock to your stems. Nike’s Grip Socks will provide you with the extra cushioning you need and NikeGrip technology with anti-slip yarn for excellent traction. They also have Y-shaped stitching and arch bands for a locked-in, secure feel. And with ventilation in the forefoot and Dri-FIT tech, these workout socks will keep your feet fresh. We can see why Nike’s Grip Socks are used in the NBA.
Rogue Monster Bands
Although they are a simple tool for the gym, Rogue Fitness Monster Bands are a versatile piece of equipment that will help you enhance your explosiveness. These resistance bands are highly durable and made from natural latex rubber. This go-anywhere fitness accessory will make workouts more challenging and stretches more effective. For example, you can perform squats with resistance bands to level up your workout. There are eight color-coded Rogue Monster Bands to choose from with varying degrees of resistance. The resistance ranges from 15 lbs to 200 lbs. Grabbing a band with resistance anywhere between 15lbs to 50lbs for vertical jump workouts is ideal.
TriggerPoint GRID STK Handheld Foam Roller
With a TriggerPoint GRID STK Foam Roller, you’ll have a portable massage tool to take wherever you go. This recovery tool features AcuGRIP handles that mimic the pressure of a massage therapist’s thumbs and a patent-pending 3D surface similar to the company’s popular GRID foam rollers. Its three-dimensional surface helps to channel blood and oxygen straight to the issue for ideal mobility. Promote increased circulation and immediate relief from after your workout with this 21-inch fitness roller.
Adidas Marquee Boost Low Shoes
If you’re going to drills religiously to increase your vertical leap, you’ll need a pair of athletic shoes that can support your feet and take a beating. Meet the Adidas Marquee Boost Low Shows. These kicks are classic basketball shoes built for agility on the court, which means they will provide you with unrivaled support. These shoes feature responsive Boost cushioning, delivering amazing energy return, and incredible traction thanks to zonal herringbone outsoles. And it has molded padded ankle collars for superior comfort.
2XU MCS Run Compression Tights
2XU makes some of the best pair of compression tights on the planet. Their MCS (Muscle Containment Stamping) Compression tights feature lightweight PWX fabric and are developed with an extensive understanding of the effect of high-impact running on the legs. The revolutionary fabric for these compression tights acts as a support system that maps over key muscles anatomically, reducing muscles oscillation and fatigue. It’s graduated compression speeds up recovery by promoting blood circulation, making it an ideal piece of garment to sport during your workout and while you cool down.
How To Use A Foam Roller
Doing drills to increase your vertical leap will definitely improve your explosiveness, but you have to stay healthy in order to use your improved abilities. Check out our comprehensive guide on how to use a foam roller and take card of your body.