Whether you’re learning to vertical leap for a sport, like Basketball, or Volleyball, for example, or simple exercise, the task can be a challenge. For many sports, learning to improve your vertical leap is essential. As a part of your regular fitness training between games, you should be planning to incorporate fitness drills that will increase your muscle strength and leg speed. Improvement doesn’t happen overnight, but over time you can begin to see great improvements in your vertical leap. How do you improve your vertical leap?
By emphasizing certain leg muscles, you can begin to train your body to increase your vertical jump abilities. Through the use of toe raises, depth jumps from a platform, drop jumps, squats, and even jump rope, you can strengthen the muscles responsible for vertical jumps.
There are a few ways to improve your vertical jump, but these exercises are some of the best ways to train the muscles needed to make these jumps. Vertical jumping like that is about the strength to adequately reverse the downward force created before you make a successful jump, and those muscles can only be improved through training.
How Do You Do These Exercises?
How do you do all of these exercises? They are surprisingly easy and essential to your ability to improve and increase your vertical leap.
The toes raise exercises started by standing with your feet at shoulder-width apart. From this position, you rise onto your toes and the balls of your feet.
You should hold this raised position for a couple of seconds and slowly begin to lower yourself back into your starting position. What this exercise does is build your calf muscles.
Your calf muscles are a big part of generating the force required for a vertical jump, and once you feel like the exercise has gotten easy overtime, they can be done with weights to increase resistance.
Broken down this exercise should look like this:
- Starting position with feet at a solder width distance apart,
- Rise onto the balls of your feet and toes,
- Hold for a couple of seconds
- Lower back into the starting position
This exercise is focused on the speed and strength used to leap in the air. It also requires a box or a platform to be able to perform this training. To start, you need to be positioned on top of the box and take a single step forward off the box.
With either leg starting, land on the balls of your feet, but don’t let your heel touch down. Then, immediately after landing, reverse the downward force by jumping as high as you can straight up into the air.
The height of this jump can be improved if you use your arms to create momentum, and then get back up onto the box to repeat.
This exercise helps you gain your strength for a leap, and should look like this step by step:
- Step forward off the box onto the ball of your foot only,
- Immediately after landing, jump straight up into the air,
- Get back on the box, switch legs and repeat
Another exercise to prepare your legs for the explosive force needed to increase a vertical jump, the Drop Jump, is focused on the “shock” and resilience to potentially dangerous force.
If this exercise is not done with proper precautions, like proper stretching and shock-absorbing sneakers, it could seriously damage your knees. This risk and its ultimate goal are why it is called the “shock jump.”
Like the Depth Jump, the Drop Jump will need a box or a platform to perform successfully. You start on the top of the box and take a single step forward off the box to the ground.
Again, just like the Depth Jump, you will want to land on the ball of your feet without letting your heel touch the ground. This exercise differs, is that the next step is not to let your knees bend when you land. Your legs should absorb the force from the jump as you try to reverse the downward force of the jump as quickly as possible.
How does this exercise look step by step?
- Take a single step off the box onto the ball of your foot only,
- Without bending your knee, jump to reverse the downward force,
- Get back on the box, switch legs, and repeat,
For actively working on the muscles you use when jumping in sports like basketball this exercise is perfect. Even once your legs begin to burn, keep working on improving your squat jumps and improving your vertical jump ability. Be careful not to overwork yourself, but this exercise is best done when pushing yourself to keep getting better.
How do you perform the squat jump? It’s about as easy and standard as it sounds. Like the Toe Raises, you want to keep your feet shoulder-width apart, before lowering yourself into a squat.
Then, while keeping your back as straight as you can, and your knees directly above your toes, squat down. Once you’ve squatted all the way down, immediately leap straight into the air.
Step by step, this exercise should look a little like this,
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart,
- Lower yourself into a squat with your back straight,
- Ensure your knees are above your toes,
- Squat down,
- Immediately leap straight upward,
Though jump rope is a popular schoolyard game, it can also be a powerful tool for improving your vertical jump. This exercise is incredibly versatile and can be done in front of the TV, while listening to a podcast, watching YouTube, and just about anywhere else.
For vertical jump training, try to ensure that you’re bouncing on your toes and using them to explode upward. You should be using the rest of your feet as little as possible, so even when you land, you should be landing on your toes.
Jump rope isn’t only good at improving your vertical jump, as a bonus, this fun workout can also help improve your cardio. Cardio is incredibly essential to most sports, basketball and Volleyball included, so the two in one training offered by jump rope is invaluable.
You should be working on adding these workouts to your other training routine. For all sports and physical training exercises, you need to have a well-balanced routine that works on your strengths around your body. For example, you should be making a rotating routine of cardio and muscular workout routines, as most sports are a combination of the two.
Additionally, you should never be overworking. If you’re not progressing as fast as you want to, you could have been starting too hard. Starting these exercises with weights, such as when you’re new to the routine, could inhibit your ability to work at a level and speed that will genuinely progress you further.
Starting with weights means that you can’t do as many squats for as long if you haven’t trained to benefit from the added resistance.
Finally, it’s important to set goals and track your successes. This is both for personal encouragement and for knowledge on how far you’ve come. Before you start training your vertical leap, you should measure how high you can jump, and then every couple of weeks, you should check in again to see how far you’ve come.
Don’t be surprised if you haven’t seen progress right away, be patient, work hard, and see great improvements in your vertical leaping abilities soon enough.
What is the Science Behind Vertical Leap?
An important starting point is understanding the power and strength involved in a vertical jump. The equation looks something like this: Power = Force x Velocity.
Force is referring to the maximum amount of strength that someone has, through training and exercises as listed above. Velocity is the maximum speed the athlete or jumper can take when they’re jumping and resisting the downward pull of gravity.
These things can be improved upon and strengthened by training your strength and velocity related to your bodyweight. Fundamentally improving force and velocity will increase your power, and by extension, your vertical jump.
If that sounds simple? That’s because it is, but it is the method that millions of top athletes and physical trainers use.
The most effective way to measure your vertical jump strength is through training. If you can slowly increase the amount of weight, you can lift while doing multiple different types of squats like the front squat, back squat, powerlifting style squat, box squat, and deadlifts through training yourself up to heavier and heavier weights while performing these exercises.
As warned above, this does not mean starting on heavier weights. You should be slowly building up your abilities and strengths over time, and then measure it based on where you can safely and comfortably work while still pushing yourself.
Velocity, on the other hand, is all about really sharp and quick movements. For example, a vertical jump is an incredibly quick upward movement that can happen in about .2 of a second on average.
This speed is essential to effective and strong velocity and can be increased through the exercises listed above, like jump rope, depth jumps and shock jumps. All of those are methods to which you can become better at honing your velocity while performing a vertical jump.
Consider the equation again, power = force x velocity, the amount of power an individual can achieve varies even among individuals of the same body weight by this metric. As it isn’t about how “light” you are, and instead is about the strength and speed you have through training.
Take, for example, if you had two athletes that weigh 160lbs. Even if both of them could perform a maximum squat of 300 lbs, if there is a difference in the maximum power in the vertical jump, then one athlete would be higher than others.
If there is an athlete who weighs more than another, but can lift the same amount as the lighter athlete, differences in vertical jump would come. For the heavier athlete to be able to jump higher, they’d need to be able to lift more, as it needs to be proportionate to the individual’s weight.
Logically, the lighter individual of the same strength as the heavier individual would be able to jump higher. This is what the equation means by equal to the individual’s body weight.
Another important underrated aspect of being able to jump effectively vertically is the flexibility of the individual. To reach the perfect range of motion and come into proper positions while jumping, you need a good level of flexibility.
Otherwise, you are inhibiting your ability to and potential to jump, and in sports, in particular, take the positions needed to perform whatever action you’re attempting successfully.
This could be tossing a basketball, or hitting a volleyball, or anything else in a sport that requires the ability to jump. Without this ability, you run a higher risk of injuries that could be easily prevented with proper stretching that is dynamic and fluid, rather than static and stiff.
Dynamic stretching essentially means using speed and momentum to stretch your muscles out so that more static stretching cannot. This is the kind of stretching that includes swinging your legs side to side, and other such fluid and movement-based stretching.
This should be done before every workout and training session to warm up and help you remain flexible and avoid potential injuries.
On the other hand, static stretching keeps your body at rest and stretches a muscle in an otherwise stationary position. For example, stretching a single arm while not moving the rest of the body, for example. Or leaning over and touching your toes and holding that position for a set period.
This stretching has its own place and is better suited for after workouts or on days where you’re not training or working out. It still helps to keep you flexible, but less loose and fluid than you need to be in sports.
There is no one way to train, though starting with stretching is always advised. Each personal trainer or training regiment is different depending on weight, strength, goal, and timeline.
This is why it is hard to make one uniform way to work out that works for all people, as not all workout works for all people, and there are a million different variations of exercises. Certain exercise moves, equipment, styles and so on can be mixed and matched to make the perfect schedule for you and your body.
For vertical jump training, it’s all about training your velocity, strength, and flexibility combining to determine the power of your vertical jump. As such, your training week should be a good balance of strength training, dynamic stretches and warmups, and cardio training as well to ensure your best performance.
That being said, however, you should avoid working out seven days a week with no break as it can overwork and damage your muscles and spend the days you are not training doing a quick static stretch.
Countless online regiments promise to train you how to “double your vertical jump” with 12-week courses, strength training regiments, personal trainers and the like.
The best way to find the way that works for yourself is to understand your abilities, where you’re starting from, and your goals. After that, it is a matter of trying different methods until you find the one that works best.
Always give each new regiment or course enough time to start showing you its effects in your skills and body before completely giving up on it. Results rarely show right away, so you need to keep at your training to ensure the best results.
How Do You Improve Your Vertical Jump for Volleyball?
Though much of the training advice above is the same, and the science is the same as well, mostly they answer the question of “how to improve your jump for basketball?” For Volleyball, the tips are largely the same, but there are a few areas that should be hit independently in the context of Volleyball.
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The first step is knowing where you’re starting from. This can be done by standing next to a wall with tape in your hand and jumping as high as you can to see how high you can get the piece of tape. Measure it, and keep repeating this trial every two weeks to know where you started and how far you’ve gotten.
Next, is learning how to build your own explosive power, by building up your muscle memory with exercises that can help you enhance and learn to propel yourself higher in a vertical jump. Many of the exercises we already covered can help you learn to do this and create your muscle memory in explosive power so necessary to the sport.
Then, you want to build your lower body strength through resistance training. Leg presses split squats, calf raises and so on can build the strength you need in your lower body. You can also try using a weight that can help add to the resistance and help you gain the strength and resistance training you need. This resistance training can especially help when fighting your downward momentum before you make a vertical jump.
Jumping rope can be incredibly effective here, as well. Though for Volleyball, you can also try to jump rope as fast as you can on the balls of your feet for 30 seconds as a part of your daily training exercises to start seeing major results quickly.
Final Thoughts on How to Improve Your Vertical Leap
In the end what you are looking for is to maximize your explosive potential from your muscles, the ability is there in everyone but it does take a focus on that result to achieve it, it doesn’t happen by accident for 99.9% of humans.
If you are interested there is a absolutely free ebook here on How to Jump Higher in 45 Minutes which is to help you have a easy readable PDF with some good ways to start down your journey to excellent vertical leaping.
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