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Plyometric exercises can help to improve your explosive power making them perfect for elite athletes such as basketball players and footballers who need to be able to jump high and change direction quickly.
That being said, power exercises can benefit anyone by activating fast twitch muscle fibers and improving lower body strength and increasing endurance and fitness levels.
One of the best exercises during plyometric training is the vertical jump. Improving your jumping ability offers great carry over to netball, volleyball, and other similar sports. It can even help you to run faster and get you off the starting block quicker during sprints.
In this article we’ll suggest some of the best exercises you can perform to help you increase your power output so that you can improve your vertical jump performance and help you jump higher than ever before.
Muscles Worked During the Vertical Jump
The primary muscle groups activated when performing a vertical jump are the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and the gastrocnemius. Extension of the joints occurs at the hips, ankle and knees.
When performing a vertical jump from a standing position you would begin by squatting down to help increase force production prior to propelling yourself upwards. This eccentric part of the jump (lowering) loads up the quads and results in dorsiflexion of the ankle joints as well as hip flexion.
During the concentric phase (rising) hip extension occurs along with activation of the hamstrings, glutes, and calf muscles.
2 Main Factors Affecting Your Vertical Jump
Building and maintaining strong leg muscles along with good joint mobility will contribute to jump height, but there is also an important physiological aspect to consider. The speed achieved from the moment of take off during movements such as jump squats will depend on the body mass of the individual along with their power output.
Power To Weight Ratio
Your power to weight ratio will have a direct impact on how high you can jump. You can improve this ratio by either losing body fat or increasing power output.
Your Training Regime
How you currently work out could also be having a negative impact on your vertical jump height. If you perform strength training like a bodybuilder, lowering heavy weights slowly and performing many repetitions, this won’t properly train your stretch shortening cycle.
For an impressive vertical jump, you’ll need to focus on exercises that increase your power output and this involves strength exercises that improve the stretch shortening cycle. Essentially, exercises that improve concentric, explosive power.
If your weight training involves lots of movements that help to improve balance and co-ordination, these too could have an adverse effect on your jump height. Whilst both bodybuilding exercise and those that focus on mobility and stability can certainly help, they should not be primary focus as part of your vertical jump training.
Workouts to Increase Vertical Jump
Below are some great exercises that, when performed regularly and with proper form, will give you the best results in achieving a higher jump.
Plyometric Exercises to Help You Jump Higher
The first set of movements are known as plyometric exercises and are specifically designed to help improve explosive movements. These are performed with less weight which allow you to move that much faster.
How To Perform A Squat Jump:
- Start by standing with feet shoulder width apart.
- Bend your knees and push your hips back to squat down until the top of your legs are just above parallel to the ground.
- As you squat down, bring your arms straight out in front of you.
- Now, push through your heels with as much power as possible to jump into the air.
- As soon as you land, squat straight back down and repeat this movement.
- Perform 5 sets of 5 repetitions.
- You can add some resistance to this exercise by holding a free weight in each hand.
Kneeling Jump to Vertical Jump
How To Perform A Kneeling Jump To Vertical Jump:
- Begin by kneeling on an exercise mat. This is your starting position.
- By thrusting your hips forwards, jump from your knees to your feet.
- As soon as you land on your feet, jump into the air as high as you can manage.
- Once you’ve landed, get back down to the kneeling position.
- Repeat this exercise for 5 reps and 5 sets.
How To Perform A Broad Jump:
- Start by standing with your feet shoulder width apart. Ensure you have enough space in front of you so that you can take a leap forward.
- Squat down and simultaneously swing your arms down and behind you, this will give you momentum to jump forward.
- Jump forward as far as possible.
- Once you’ve landed, walking back to the start and repeat.
- Perform 3 to 5 sets of 5 repetitions.
How To Perform A Heiden Jump:
- Start by standing with feet shoulder-width apart and adopt a half squat position.
- Push off with one foot and jump as far as possible to the side.
- Land on your outer foot whilst taking your inner foot behind the outer leg, as though you are speed skating.
- Once you land, immediately jump to the other side.
- Continue this movement and perform 5 sets of 10 jumps.
How To Do A Depth Jump:
- Start by standing on a step-up box. Directly opposite you should be another platform which is higher than the box you’re currently standing on.
- Step off the box and ensure that both feet land on the ground at the same time.
- Immediately jump up to land on the higher box in front of you.
- The goal is to jump from the ground as quickly as possible once you’ve stepped off the initial platform.
- Repeat this movement for 4 sets of 5 repetitions.
Resistance Exercises to Help You Jump Higher
Resistance training exercises are an effective way to improve your overall strength. Strength along with power will help you to attain that high jump.
Back Foot Elevated Split Squat
How To Perform A Back Foot Elevated Split Squat:
- Standing with your feet shoulder width apart in front of a step-up box or similar platform.
- Step back with one leg and rest the balls of your foot on the platform.
- Keeping your back straight with head and chest up.
- Drop down by lowering your back knee towards the ground.
- Your other leg should flex at the knee joint.
- Drive back up to the start and repeat.
- Perform 2 sets of 10 reps on each leg.
Resistance bands are an exceptional tool for warm ups or isolation of muscle groups while training at home
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How To Perform A Band Wideout:
- Position a glute band or closed loop resistance band around your ankles.
- Bend the knees slightly and push your hips back so that you’re in a partial squat position.
- Keep your head and chest up and jump both feet out to the side.
- Immediately jump back into the start position.
- Repeat this movement in quick succession for 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
Dumbbells Power Jumps
How To Perform Dumbbell Power Jumps:
- Stand with feet hip width apart whilst holding a dumbbell in each hand.
- Drive your hip flexors back and bend at the knees so your squat down.
- Once your upper legs are just parallel to the floor, drive through your feet to jump as high as possible.
- As soon as you land immediately drop back into the squat position and repeat.
- Perform the exercises for 5 sets of 5 reps.
How To Perform Band Kickbacks:
- Position a glute band around your ankles.
- Stand in front of a wall and lean forwards resting both hands against the wall at shoulder height.
- Drive your right heel straight back as far as you can comfortably go.
- You should feel a stretch to your glutes and hamstrings.
- Perform 2 sets of 10 reps on each leg.
3 Core Strengthening Exercises
Core strength is beneficial not just for helping you to jump higher but provides your whole body with a strong and stable base to perform all activities.
Front Plank with Rotation
How To Perform A Front Plank With Rotation:
- Lie on the ground in a prone position. Support your upper body with your forearms.
- Rest your feet on their toes and raise your hips up so that your body forms a straight line. This is your start position.
- Raise one foot off the ground and rotate your hips so that you can take this foot under the other leg and across the body.
- Return back to the starting position then switch legs and perform the same movement.
- Make sure you perform an equal number of repetitions on both legs.
How To Perform A Dead Bug Exercise:
- Lie on your back with your arms straight and extended up towards the ceiling.
- Bring both legs up to form a tabletop position, your lower legs should be parallel to the ground with feet, knees and hips bent to 90 degrees.
- Breathe in so that your lower back presses into the ground. Maintain this position.
- Start to stretch out one leg and lower it towards the ground.
- Simultaneously take the opposite arm down and behind your head whilst keeping it straight.
- Bring both the arm and leg back to the start and repeat the exercise with the opposite leg and arm.
How To Perform A Bicycle Crunch:
- Start by lying on your back with your hands behind your head and knees bent with feet on the ground.
- Raise your head off the ground slightly without forcing up with your hands.
- Bring your left knee towards your chest.
- At the same time rotate your torso and bring the opposite elbow towards the left knee.
- Return to the start and repeat raising the opposite leg and elbow.
The above exercises are perfect for incorporating into your vertical jump workout. You don’t need to perform them all in one day but by adding them into workout you’ll quickly see improvements to your overall jump height.
Before undertaking any new workout make sure you warm up to increase your blood flow and activate your muscles. Also consider that some of the above exercises are high impact so if you have any pre-existing injuries or aches and pains, it’s a good idea to speak with a personal trainer before starting out.