vertical jump training

Vertical Jump Training FAQ

Written by Jack Woodrup for

I have put together this vertical jump training FAQ page in order to help you better understand what happens in your body when you perform a vertical jump. This information will guide you in your approach to training what needs to be done to achieve your maximum vertical jumping ability.

What Do You Need To Train To Jump High?

Having a high vertical jump basically comes down to 4 qualities.
  • A high level of relative strength
  • The ability to apply that strength quickly
  • Sufficient efficiency of movement
  • Low levels of body fat and mass
If you can achieve these 4 things then it is a fairly safe to say you will jumping high. be The first bit of vertical jump training theory to understand is that your jumping ability is basically a product of your power to weight ratio. In other words you want to get as light and powerful as possible.

By getting light we mean reducing your body fat percentage and any excess muscle mass. Having a spare tyre of fat around your waist or huge slab of meat pectorals won't help you jump high. If you want to know more about the best ways for an explosive athlete to reduce body fat you should check out our article on fat burning.

The other half of the power to weight ratio equation is power. Muscular power is how much force you can apply divided by the time it takes to apply it. The two main variables of muscular power we can improveare therefore speed and strength. Speed is developed by improving your co-ordination and also by training your central nervous system to react more quickly.

This is where the plyometrics side of vertical jump training comes into play. If your sport involves a lot of jumping type movements already, you may not actually need to do too much actual jump training to improve your vertical.

Strength on the other hand is improved primarily by resistance training, normally with heavy weights. Getting strong is extremely important for increasing your vertical jump. To find out more about how to get strong go to our Strength Training articles.

You Can't Fire Cannons From a Row Boat!

It is also important when it comes to vertical jump training to know what muscles you need to focus on. Most people think it is basically quadriceps, but in reality your prime moves are also your glutes, hamstrings, core, hips and the rest of the posterior chain. To a lessor extent your calves, shoulders and lats also play a role, but the majority of your jumping power comes from the bigger muscle groups located in and around the upper leg.

Accordingly, the bulk of your vertical jump training should focus on the development of those areas. In the gym by far the two best exercises for the development of these areas, particularly from a pure strength point of view, are the various forms of squat and deadlift. Getting stronger on these two exercises alone is one of the fastest ways for the average athlete to make improvements in their vertical jump.

What Are You Training For?

Another key concept of vertical jump training is specificity. From a pure point of view your vertical jump is how high you can jump from a stand still position. Whilst this in itself is a great indicator of muscular power, in reality very few athletes are training just for that. Most people are trying to improvetheir vertical to benefit a sports related activity such as basketball or volleyball.

As a result of the function of specificity, just doing standing vertical jumps will help your standing vertical test result, but it may not be the most appropriate exercise for your needs if you are trying to dunk a basketball.

As an example we know a sprinter who uses a style of specificity in his program by only performing single legged variations of all exercises as sprinting is always a single leg at a time activity. His program is designed for his requirements and he has got great results in both his sprint times and vertical jump from this approach. The lesson from this is that before you start your jump training, ask yourself what your true desired outcomes are and tailor your program accordingly.

Focus On Your Weaknesses

It is also good to remember that when it comes to vertical jump training you will make much greater improvements by focusing on your weaknesses. If for example your quads were strong and your hamstrings weak your body will recognize the imbalance and as an injury prevention measure, simply won't allow you to powerfully contract your quad muscles. The result is less powerful contractions and a reduced jumping ability. By correcting such weaknesses your jump will find that your results come more quickly than just working on what you are already good at.

Another way to look at strengths and weaknesses is to examine how relatively strong you are versus how explosive and quick you are. An athlete maybe able to squat 2x their body weight but if they can't apply that strength quickly then they won't be able to jump very high. In that case they should focus their training on plyometric type activities to teach the CNS to access their strength quicker.

This situation can also be reversed. Where an athlete is relatively weak but is quite explosive, increasing their relative strength will bring quicker gains to their vertical jump. For more information about training for your sport and targeting your weaknesses, check out our section on exercise selection article.

Training is Only A Small Part of Your Success

It is also important to understand that doing a lot of vertical jump training is incredibly demanding on your body. It is very easy to over train and injure yourself due to the high impact nature and the CNS intensiveness of the activity.

What you do for the 23 hours a day you are not in the gym or on the court that can have a huge impact on how well you progress. Taking care of yourself away from the training track will result in faster and higher gains, as well as reduce the likelihood of injury.

For more information on Injury prevention, we have written an informative piece outlining some simple steps you can take to reduce your chances of hurting yourself.


So there you have basic vertical jump training theory. If you want to jump high you need to develop your muscular power. Particular attention should be paid to the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and the rest of the posterior chain. The type of exercises and training you do will depend upon your individual strengths and weakness as well as the requirements of your chosen activity.

Vertical jump training isn't just about training though. You should also take extra effort to ensure you maximize your recovery as this will significantly help your vertical as well as reducing injuries. If you get those things right you will soon be featuring on YouTube with some of the other jumping phenomenon?s out there.

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