5 Great Jump Squat Variations To Increase Your Vertical Jump

In a recent article I talked about how you can increase your vertical jump using weighted trap bar jump squats. However not everyone has access to a trap bar. If that is you does that mean you can't get the benefits that weighted jump squats provide? Hell no! There are in fact plenty of ways you can perform weighted jump squats without a trap bar.

In this article I am going to take a quick look at benefits of jump squats and then go over the pros and cons of some of the different ways of performing them.

Why Jump Squats Totally Rock For Vertical Jump Training

There are a lot of reasons to love weighted jump squats if you want to jump higher. Here are the more common ones

1) They produce very high power outputs
2) Unlike Olympic lifts there is a very short learning curve. If you can jump, you can pretty much do weighted jump squats
3) Unlike the Olympic lifts there is a bunch of ways to do them so you don't need much in the way of specialist equipment (Olympic lifts generally require bumper plates and a lifting platform, not that common in most people's home gyms. or even too many commercial gyms)
4) Unlike Olympic lifts, you don't need to dump the weights at the top so much so you can pretty much do them anywhere
5) Unlike Olympic lifts that closely mimic a jumping motion, weighted jump squats ARE a jumping motion
6) All of the above points are nice and dandy, but the best one is that weighted jump squats are flat out one of the best things you can do to increase your vertical jump

Different Types of Weighted Jump Squats

Barbell Jump Squats


  • Easy to adjust the loads
  • Most gyms (commercial and home) have barbells


  • Takes your hands out of the movement
  • Can be uncomfortable if you let the bar bounce up and off your upper back during the jump
  • People tend to use too much weight which can cause joint problems
Barbell Jump SquatBarbell Jump Squat

Dumbbell Jump Squats


  • Easy to adjust the loads
  • Most gyms (commercial) have dumbbells


  • Takes your hands out of the movement
  • People tend to use too much weight which can cause joint problems
Dumbbell Jump SquatDumbbell Jump Squat

Sandbag Jump Squats


  • Easier on your neck than barbells
  • Fairly portable


  • Takes your hands out of the movement
  • Difficult to adjust the loads

Sandbag jump squatSandbag jump squat

Weight Vest Jump Squat


  • Free's up your hands for a more natural jumping motion as well as a greater variety of jumps
  • Depending on the type of weight vest, most are easy to adjust the weight


  • Like nearly all forms of weighted jump squat it can get hard on the knees if you go too heavy
  • More portable than barbells and dumbbells, but still annoying if you have to carry it around.
  • If your weight vest is not well fitted it can bounce around a lot making it difficult to jump
  • Weight vests with metal weights, while easily adjustable, can be uncomfortable
As a side note note to this last version, I recently purchased a new weight vest that has gel weights. These are a softer and conform to your body better. This weight vest is quite frankly light years ahead of my older metal based vests.

Medicine Ball Jump Squats


  • Jumping with a ball can be quite sports specific for basketball players
  • Most gyms have a good selection of differently weighted medicine balls
  • Jumping with a medicine ball will give your abdominal muscles a good workout


  • If you are training at home most people don't personally own a lot of different medicine balls making load adjustment difficult
  • Holding the medicine ball takes your arms out of the jump

Medicine Ball Jump SquatMedicine Ball Jump Squat

Weighted Jump Squat Training Parameters

While I don't like to prescribe specific training parameters in my articles because everyone is different, there are a few general guidelines that you can follow when it comes to using weighted jump squats in your program.

First, keep the reps low per set. I don't like to go over 5 reps with most jumping drills because you start to lose quality and intensity. This applies even more so with weighted jumps. The extra load forces you to work a little bit harder and as such your focus and effort tends to drop off a bit quicker.

Second, don't go too heavy. This is a common mistake, especially where weights are involved. Jumping is about speed-strength and as you saw from my video of the trap bar jump squat in the maximum power training you don't need to use particularly heavy loads. Here I have a some guidelines I like to use. For weighted jumping drills that involve you resetting between each rep as I did with the trap bar jump squats, you can use up to about 15-25% of your 1RM.

For weight jumping drills that involve lower ground contact times then it is better to go with something along the lines of up to 10% of your body weight. Why the difference in using % of 1RM versus a % of body weight? It comes down to to the aim of the exercise.

Drills that emphasize lower ground contact times are about trying to develop reactive strength and as such you don't want to overload the body too much. Weighted jump squats with a reset tend to be used more for the development of concentric power and as such slightly higher loads result in higher power outputs.

Both types of weighted jump squat drills are great for increasing your vertical jump, but you need to be smart about how you program them.

Rest periods will also be slightly longer then for regular unloaded jumps. Unloaded jumps typically require only 60-120 seconds rest between sets. With weighted jump squats which are more taxing there is a need for rest periods ranging from the 90-240 second mark. Obviously the higher the load you are using the longer the breaks you should take, and also the less reps you should probably do.

For example when I do trap bar jump squats I use the heaviest load that produces maximum power, but I only do sets of 2 reps and rest for 2-3 minutes per set. By contrast if I do hurdle jumps with just body weight, the rest periods can be as low as 60 seconds without negatively effecting performance.

These guidelines should be enough to get you started but if you are still unsure you can take the guesswork out of your vertical jump training entirely by using our Vertical Jump Coaching service.

As part of the service we will create for you fully custom training plans that include exact weights to use on each exercise (where applicable), the number of reps, sets, and also the rest period to take between sets.


I love weighted jump squats as a vertical jump training method. Because they are an actual jump they have a tremendous carry over to from the training track to your field of athletic endeavor. Not only that but they are easy to learn, and as this article illustrates, there are plenty of ways you can perform them.

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