Here at VerticalJumping.com we love squats, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, box jumps, power skipping, the 123 drill, and many more. But there is one exercise that rates above all else as the absolute very best vertical jumping exercise you can do.
This particular exercise improves just about all the required athletic attributes for jumping high, and is head and shoulders above everything else at improving movement efficiency. Also if your sport requires you to do any jumping then this is the most sports specific exercise choice you can make. So what is it?
So what is this magnificent jumping exercise that trumps all others? The very best vertical jump exercise ever is, drum roll please, practicing jumping. Sorry for the anti-climax but the reality is the best vertical jump exercise is going out and jumping hard, and high, as often as you can in the manner at which you want to improve.
Yep, it is that simple.
If you want to dunk - you need to practice trying to dunk.
If you want be better at a volley spike or block - you need to practice jumping up for a volleyball spike or block.
When you are are putting together a GREAT vertical jump program - you need to start with actually practicing the type of jumping you want to get better at. Then you build the rest of the program around that.
So how might this practically work? Well for volleyball it is fairly straight forward, find an overhead target and practice jumping up to touch it as you would in a volleyball jump. For dunking a basketball a good way to progress is to go out, find yourself a basketball ring, and then spend time trying to jump up to it.
At first you will work towards just touching it, then towards being able to grab it, and then, ultimately trying to get as much of your arm abovethe ring as possible. If you can get your wrist abovethe ring, then provided you can time it right, you should be able to dunk a basketball either off a lob at the very least.
NOTE - In my own journey to dunk a basketball timing the jump to catch the ball at the rim off the lob was the hardest and most time consuming part of the process. I could get easily my wrist above the rim after about 6 months of dedicated training (I was in my 30's when Started training and am only 5'10 in shows). But it took another 6-9 months of practice before I could consistently throw down a dunk off the lob.
I know this isn't really sexy training advice but practicing your actual jumping technique is one of the most commonly overlooked things you can do to improve your vertical jump. People often believe they need all sorts of fancy exercises, different sorts of weight training equipment, and cleverly designed programs, but it is amazing how often they don't include the basic act of going out and simply doing some maximum effort jumping.
Spending time working on your jumping technique will help you jump higher in so many ways. First and foremost though it will improve your movement efficiency! This is a big one. If you have less than stellar co-ordination then you will be severely limiting your potential jump height. Poor efficiency means you cannot fire your muscles in the correct order to create a smooth and powerful jumping motion.
Practicing jumping also helps develop explosive strength and reactive strength in a manner specific to jumping. Box squats, power cleans etc also develop these strengths, but jumping itself is obviously going to help you improvethese traits for jumping better than every other exercise you can do.
Basically all training you do is designed to force your body to adapt to its environment (also known as an adaptive response). Thus if you want to get stronger you must expose your body to continuously greater loads, usually by weight training. This sends the signals to your body that in order to survive it will need to develop greater strength.
The same goes for jump training. If you want to jump higher you must go out and regularly try to jump continuously higher. The more you practice jumping high the greater reinforcement of the message to your body and the quicker it will adapt.
Just about the only thing jumping doesn't do that well is to increase your maximal strength levels. This is better achieved using weights. At some point most athletes will need to spend some time getting stronger in the gym in order to fully maximize their vertical jump, but unless they have mastered the action of jumping in the first place, then really, they are just wasting their time.
The advice I would give to anyone looking to increase their vertical jump is to first spend a good 3 months just going out and jumping as high as they can as often as they can. This will help get the low hanging fruit of jumping gains as well as hone your movement efficiency.
However after those initial gains it is definitely time to start looking at more specific ways to improve that are relevant to your situation. This might be working on your relative strength in the weight room, developing your explosive strength (rate of force development) and reactive strength through plyometrics, jumping drills, and various light load jumps and lifts.
If you are confident in your ability to assess this and write your own programs that is great. Just don't forget to include some jumping practice in your weekly schedule. If you aren't sure what to do you can subscribe to our vertical jump coaching service which provides fully customised jumping programs based on your specific needs.
If you are looking for something more advanced that provides some incredible gains - than you should definitely have a look at Game Changers. This book contains the jumping exercises and training techniques that aside from actually jumping a lot - these drills provide the absolute best gains you can get on your vertical. This book contains techniques you simply won't find anywhere else that truly produce incredible improvements. For more information click the image below.
If your training has stagnated and your vertical jump numbers are going nowhere maybe it is time you took a step back, removed all your other exercises from your program, and just went out and started jumping. You might be surprised how much you can gain simply by including a bit of sport specific jump work into your program.