A strong vertical leap can help you excel in several sports, including basketball, gymnastics and volleyball. It will also help to improve your overall athleticism and flexibility. Increasing your vertical leap requires dedicated focus on it during training, as shown here.
- Measure your current vertical leap. Stand near a tall wall or pole, and raise your hand as far as you can. Have a friend measure where your hand reaches up to (make a mark with chalk or a similar marking tool). Then, jump with that same hand raised, and have your friend try to measure where your fingertips hit the wall. (Your friend might need to stand on a stool, chair or small wall to do this; just be careful not to jump into him or her.) The distance between these two measures is your current vertical leap.
- As you improve, remeasure at intervals. Being able to track your progress will help you gain confidence in training and keep pushing for more.
- Jump rope. It might seem too obvious to be true, but jumping rope regularly will strengthen the muscles you need to execute a vertical leap. Jump on a hard surface with plenty of room over your head for the rope, and try to fit in 15 to 20 minutes per day.
- Don’t “skip” rope, where you essentially jump with one foot in a sort of running-in-place motion. Instead, try to keep your ankles together as you jump with both feet at the same time.
- As you improve, jump faster. You might start out moving the rope slowly, taking a small hop between jumps to maintain your balance. When you’re ready, move the rope more quickly and get rid of the balance hop.
- If you’re not able to jump rope, try running up and down stairs. It’s a comparable workout, and hits a lot of the same muscles.
- Do squats. A good squat should feel like it’s working the entire lower half of your body, as well as stretching the core muscles around your back and abdomen. Here are some exercises to try, in order of intensity:
- Do a basic squat. Place your feet hip-width apart, and keep your heels flat on the ground. Slowly lower yourself as far as you can by simply bending your knees––keep your back erect and your neck straight. Lift back up to starting position. Start out with 3 sets of 10 squats.
- Add weights to your squat. Place your feet hip-width apart, and put a set of hand weights between them (start out with a 5 lb. weight. If it’s too much, go down to a 3 or 4 lb. weight; if it seems too easy, ramp up to 7 or 8 lbs.) Squat down as you would for a basic squat, but pick up the weights at the bottom of your squat. As you lift yourself out of the squat, rise to a full standing position with your arms raised straight up toward the ceiling. As you squat back toward the floor, lower your arms so that you’re back in starting position––in a full squat, with the weights between your feet and your arms bent. Start out with 3 sets of 5.
- Jump out of a squat. Place your feet hip-width apart, and squat as low as you can. Instead of rising back up slowly, though, jump from squatting position and try to turn 180 degrees. Come down from the jump in another squat––don’t try to land standing straight up. Repeat, changing directions when you jump (for instance, turn to the right the first time, then turn to the left, and so on). Start with 3 sets of 5.
- Build up your calf muscles. There are a lot of exercises you can do to bulk up your calves, but here’s a classic one:
- Stand on a curb or a step, so that the balls of your feet (underneath your toes) are on the step, but your heels are not.
- Slowly raise yourself a few inches (centimeters) by standing on your tip toes. All your weight should now be on the balls of your feet, and you should feel the pull in your calves.
- Slowly lower back down to starting position. Doing this exercise slowly is what makes it work––you won’t get the same effect out of bouncing up and down quickly. If it helps, time yourself; for example, each raise and lower should take a total of 6 seconds. Count out the seconds as you go.
- Repeat the exercise as many times as you can. Twenty times is a good goal to start with.
- Start weight training (optional). Get access to a gym where you can do leg curls and lifts with commercial weight-lifting equipment. Set the weight as high as you can without injuring yourself, and aim for 4 or 5 reps. Repeat when you feel able.
- Note that high-weight, low-rep strength training is the best for building up central nervous system and focuses on hypertrophy (growth of muscles) less. If you want more muscle, train with moderate weights and moderate (around 6-12) reps.
- Use your arms for momentum. Start with your arms at your sides, bent at the elbow. As you jump, raise your arms above your head.
- Practice your jump. Every few days, try a few vertical leaps to track your progress. Don’t focus on vertical leaps as your primary means of training, though; doing them over and over will result in slower progression than doing the exercises above. If you can, have a friend mark your jumps so you can track your progress.
- Visualize your jump. The jury’s out on whether visualization can improve athletic performance, but it can’t hurt to try. After you’ve worked out, while your muscles are still throbbing, close your eyes and picture your perfect vertical leap. Imagine yourself exploding up from the floor and hanging in the air at the height of your jump before coming back down.
- Do extensive research before buying any programs that claim to improve your vertical leap. Some of them are scams.
- Do not overlook your core. This is important because this is the area in which the majority of athletes rarely emphasize and are generally weak. This area has also been found to be linked to key success in sports, as well as in sprinting and jumping in general. For a stronger core, do some abdominal crunches every day.
- Nutrition is extremely important when it comes to improving your vertical jump. You need lots of protein and carbohydrates to load up your energy before your workout. This will ensure that your muscles are given ample time to absorb and recover before the next set of training.
- Always stretch before you work out. A good stretching routine should take at least 5 minutes.
- Try plyometric exercises. They allow you to transfer the strength you’ve gained (through weightlifting) to the floor by improving the neuromuscular junction between your brain and muscles. Some of the most popular exercises are ankle bounces, box jumps, jump rope, standing broad jumps, and squat jumps. These can all be found with quick online searches. For optimum gains, perform sets with no more than 75-100 reps. If the exercise is very difficult, you should only be doing between 10-20 reps.
- Failing to do a vital warm-up could result in muscle spasms.
- Visit online forums where people from across the world post in real-time and discuss their gains/experience.
- Don’t overexert yourself. If you feel like an exercise is too much, stop immediately. Allow yourself to rest and recover from any injuries before you reassess your training methods.
- Be wary of information you find online. Do your research before you pay out or exercise and put strain on your joints and tendons. Check out independent review sites, and athlete generated info and feedback.
EditThings You’ll Need
- Measuring tape and notebook to record leap height
- Comfortable, flexible clothing
- Suitable shoes
- Skipping rope
- Water (stay hydrated while you work out)
- Use Rock Climbing as a Team Building Event
- Gain Flexibility in Your Hips
- Do a Step Ball Change Leap
- Leap a Hurdle
- Jump Higher
- Do a Running Catleap
- Do a Standing Catleap
- Count Steps in Hurdles
How to of the Day