Someone asked me what’s the best movement to increase their overall fitness level. I responded with “the vertical jump”. When I was writing a column for a sports magazine the editor asked me what the best movement was for athletic performance. I said “the vertical jump”.
Workouts to increase the vertical jump
My opinion might not be the most popular but most of the vertical jump training advice given today is dead wrong. You see when a theory becomes popular because someone sees it in a magazine or a commerical it tends to become the “it” method of training. Here’s 10 Do’s and Don’ts for increasing your vertical jump.
5 workout tips to increase your vertical jump
- You must focus on improve the strength of your posterior chain. I’m referring to your glutes, hamstrings and calves. These are the muscles most heavily involved with the vertical jump. Some of the better exercises involves various deadlift movements, hamstring curls and reactive heel dominant jump training.
- You must improve the mobility of your hip flexors. These anterior hip muscles are usually extremely tight and when so, limit your ability to extend at your hamstrings. When that happens you don’t jump high, period.
- Your feet matter, a lot. Most people never really factor in the soles of their feet when it comes to achieve a high vertical jump but it matters. If your plantar fascia, a thick band that runs along the bottom of your foot, is tight then the start of your vertical jump will be severely limited. The initial start where your ankle begins to bend depends on the length or lack of length of your plantar fascia.
- Stretch your lats to increase your vertical jump. It doesn’t matter if it’s the vertical jump test or you’re trying to grab a rebound or catch a pass, your ability to reach your arms straight up affects your height. Grab a door handles and reach straight back, feel that intense tightness? It’s your lats.
- Improve your thoracic spine mobility. I bet that you’re partially bent forward right now reading this article. If you reach back and touch your mid back then you’ll realize that you’re pretty tight there. It’s the same thing as my reference above about the lats. If you can’t straighten your body out then you can’t reach your maximum height.
5 workout tips to increase your vertical jump or how to fix what’s broken
- You’re a quad dominant jumper. Don’t say you aren’t because unless you were a longer jumper then you are clearly jumping too much from your quad. We tend to think that back squats are the best way to increase our vertical jump. It’s what we’ve been told forever. The trouble with most individuals is that they are too strong in their quads and too weak in their hamstrings. Ditch the squat variations for 8 weeks.
- Start warming up with glute work. Our glut max and glute medius are both involved in numerous hip functions. Most importantly hip stability and extension. A functional warm up will take you through the activation work that you need to clean up the improper movement pattern that over works your hamstring.
- You have to loosen up your hamstring. I alluded to it in the point above but the reason that your hamstrings are so tight is because you’re making them do more work then they need to. Since your gluteus are so weak from sitting down all day, you won’t be able to recruit them to help you jump. Then your hamstrings try to do more and get tight. The old school hamstring stretch will work just as good as anything provided that you are strengthening your gluteus.
- Stop avoiding single leg work. In sports we very rarely jump off of two legs. Even in basketball, we never get the chances to do a traditional squat and jump. Start adding in single leg exercises like split squats, reverse lunges and single leg RDL’s.
- Don’t worry about being on your toes. In the old school theory we tell our athletes to get ready to jump or move fast by being on their toes. That’s incorrect. A proper jumping pattern begins on the heels where we can recruit our hamstrings and gluteus. Being on your toes tightens your calves, which we don’t want.
Workouts to increase your vertical jump questions and answers
I’ll be addressing your workout questions to increase your vertical jump here. Post them in the comments section and I’ll answer them here.
Here’s a video on how to deadlift
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