Training methods including heavy resistance training, explosive resistance training, plyometrics, electrostimulation, and even vibration platforms have all been used to potentially enhance vertical jump (or vertical leap) performance. But which ones have been proven to be the most effective?
Exercises for Vertical Leaping
As we found out from the studies earlier, the best approach to increasing your vertical leap is through a combination of exercises. Strength exercises that are done in slow, controlled movements like squats and lunges develop one aspect. Power exercises that use fast and explosive movements like plyometrics and hang cleans develop another aspect. And of course, practicing your maximum vertical jump will also help—remember what we learned about the brain-muscle connection.
Here are some exercises that you can try, in a rotation, for a few weeks before redoing your leap test to see how much you have improved.
1. Bulgarian Split Squats
The Bulgarian Split Squat develops strength and balance at the same time, both of which are important for successfully launching yourself into the air and then landing again without hurting yourself.
Stand a few steps in front of a bench or chair with your back facing it, and place your non-working leg up on the seat with the top of your foot flat on the surface. Using the front leg that is anchored to the floor, lower your body until your back knee is nearly touching the floor, then push back up through the heel of your front foot. This is one rep.
2. Knee to Feet Jumps
This one is fun and deceptively tiring, and does a great job of building extra lower-body power.
Get down onto your knees and sit on the heels. Swing the arms, for momentum, as you explosively jump up, shoving your hips forward as you rapidly swing your feet and legs underneath your body. Land the movement in a squat with your arms out in front of you. Slowly lower yourself down into a kneeling position again, moving down one knee per time. That is one rep.
3. Box Jumps
To get the most out of this one, use your maximum power at all times. Don’t just use the minimum amount necessary to avoid faceplanting.
Find a sturdy box (or piece of furniture) that will hold your weight and not slip around on the floor. Place it in front of you and jump up onto the box. Then jump back down, landing with soft knees, in a crouching position. To get the most benefit out of this one, focus on intensity over quantity, meaning once your form starts to suffer, the workout is over.
4. Jump Rope
Jumping rope strengthens and helps build springiness in the muscles you need to execute a vertical leap. It also helps improve your general jumping abilities and develop those nueromuscular connections.
You can find some good jump rope workouts in my past article but basically, grab your rope and jump on a firm surface where you have plenty of room. A good place to start is to jump for ten minutes per day. Feel free to break it up into smaller chunks if doing that all at once is intimidating.