Luka Hocevars Top 10 Vertical Jump Exercises
When I think about all the things I have done in my lifetime to improvemy vertical jump it makes me laugh (and cry too sometimes) because I think of all the dumb things that I have done. That's what happens when you listen to the “guru's”. Back then I did not know any better and I followed anything I thought would give me a better vertical. Honestly, it has made me learn from my mistakes and seek out as much information as possible about what works and what doesn't. I have tested everything on myself before I applied it to my athletes.
If I break it down to the basics, there are two things that really influence the vertical jump: how much force you can apply into the ground and how fast you can apply that force. So you need to get relatively stronger and/or improveate of force development. Some people need more of one while other need more of the other. Many athletes just need a lot of both!
You also need to pay attention to flexibility, mobility, posture, core strength (or whatever is the right term nowadays), etc. I am not going to bore you with that though and I will jump right into ten of the best exercises to improve your vertical jump (in no particular order). If you do not know how to do a certain exercise, then find a good strength coach in your area and let them help you with the technique. Here they are:
Snatch Grip Deadlift
Hopefully you already know how important deadlifts are for posterior strength and improving performance, but this exercise is a regular deadlift with a wide grip (as in the snatch). Because of the grip you have to get deeper in the hole to maintain a neutral spine (straight back), thus recruiting even more muscles in the posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes,low back). This exercise will put a good amount of muscle on the backside of your legs and help improve your vertical. Then again, it will also keep you away from sitting too much for a couple of days.
To some this may be a new exercise but in reality it is “old school” and making quite a comeback. You start with feet as wide as in a squat position and hold the kettlebell between your legs, explode with the hips while maintaining a neutral spine and letting the kettlebell fly up in the air with the guidance of the arms. Let it drop without trying to slow it down with the arms but rather catching it with the hips before repeating the movement. This movement closely resembles the exact movement of the vertical jump. To get extra range of motion you can stand on two boxes while doing the exercise.
A depth jump is a great exercise even though many consider it advanced it can be altered to the level of the athlete by adjusting the height of the box. It is performed by stepping of the box (NOT jumping) and exploding up immediately after landing. The muscles are stretched rapidly right at the landing phase and enables them contract faster as you explode upward. You should spend the least amount of time on the ground as humanly possible (less than 0.15 seconds is what I am looking for), otherwise the exercise doesn't have the effect that you are looking for. This exercise is very effective if used correctly but you have to make sure the athlete is ready for it and doesn't crumble at landing.
Bulgarian Split Squats
This is similar to a single leg squat except that the non working leg is elevated on a box or bench behind you. This exercise will “smash” your glutes and quads while also stretching your hip flexors and correcting imbalances in your legs (unilateral exercise). That's a three for one deal so it deserves its spot in the top 10.
Static Hip Flexor Stretch
Two things to remember though, this is about the only stretch you should do before jumping and you should do it throughout the day and not just before you get ready to jump. Here is the static hip flexor stretch:
Box Squats with Bands
If you are not doing box squats, then you need to find out how and get on the program. I lovethem because they teach the athlete to sit back in the squat and use his posterior chain (hamstrings,glutes). Apart from that it trains the explosive aspect as you sit down and then have to fire your muscles from a complete standstill. This is great for certain athletic movements such as sprinting out of the blocks and a start of the football lineman,etc.
We will use the bands to accelerate the negative portion of the lift. It comes back to Newton's 3rd law (for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction), meaning that the faster you can descend the faster you will explode up and the higher your jump will be. The bands also ad tension at the top of the lift so you have to accelerate the whole time and apply more force at the top then you do at the bottom of the lift.
Trap bar deadlifts of a box
If you aren't doing deadlifts then you aren't serious about your performance and you definitely don't want to jump higher. For some the regular deadlift is a little out of the way because of restrictions in flexibility, mobility and injuries. The trap bar allows you to stand inside the bar and hold the barbell on the side thus lowering the stress on your low back. Athletes lovethis and it makes them a lot more comfortable doing the exercise. Standing on the box will put extra work on the hamstrings which will help you with running and jumping.
Weighted ab workThe abs or should I say “core” (abs and low back) is the link between the lower and upper body. It is responsible for transfering the force from the former to the latter. You can have strong legs and upper body but if you core is weak you're not going anywhere! Work the abs hard with different exercises and make sure that you use weighted movements too. We will use kettlebells, medicine balls, standing rotational cable work, etc. Make sure that the abs are not whats holding you back to a better vertical!
I hope that these tips help you gain some extra inches and create a lot of comments starting with “I just dunked on someone….”.
This article was written and re-posted with the permission of Luka Hocevar. To read more of Luka's excellent training information you can visit his blog at http://hocevarperformance.com.
Copyright © 2014 - Vertical Jumping - All Rights Reserved