by Stephen Box
Every basketball player from the guys playing a pick up game on Saturday morning to NBA players wants to improve their game. By far and away the skill most people tell me they want to improve is their vertical jump, and for good reason. Increasing your vertical has benefits such as allowing you to get a shot over a taller opponent, rebound better, and of course posterize your opponent. Incorporate the following tips to not only increase your vertical but also get explosive power, more leg strength, and better coordination.
If you’re not using weight training, then you’re missing out on one of the best ways ways to improve your game. You want to use weight training to increase both strength and power which will lead to more explosion. In this article, we are going to focus on 3 muscles for your vertical: quads, glutes, and calves.
Barbell Squats (3 Sets of 6-8 reps)
Try to explode up from the bottom of the movement. This will increase the fast twitch fibers that are responsible for quick and explosive movements such as jumping.
Attach resistance tubing to the bar (if available). You can get even more speed without losing control of the weight.
Get down as low as possible to activate the glutes (which are responsible for propulsion).
Standing and Seated Calf Raises (4 sets of 15-20 reps)
Research has shown that the calves respond better to high reps and a slow controlled motion.
Make sure you get a good stretch at the bottom of the movement and hold the contraction at the top for one second.
Performing standing calf raises focuses mostly on the Gastrocnemius muscle, while the seated version will put the emphasis on the Soleus muscle. Performing both exercises will ensure you won’t develop any muscle imbalances in the calves.
If your muscles are tight you will not be able to generate the needed power to increase your vertical jump. The specific muscles we’ll focus on are the quads, hip flexors, hamstrings, and the calves. Make sure to do 5-10 minutes of cardio before stretching as stretching cold muscles can lead to injury.
Stand on one leg:
Grasp the foot or ankle of the other leg.
Try to pull the heel up to the butt.
Hip Flexor Stretch
- Lunge forward with left foot, bending left knee 90 degrees and lowering right knee to floor.
- Tilt pelvis forward until you feel mild tension in the front of the right hip.
- Raise right arm overhead, reaching to the left side.
- Hold for 15 to 20 seconds.
- Return to start and repeat on other side
Stand with legs shoulder width apart:
- While keeping your back straight, bend at the waist and touch the ground with your hands.
- Slowly reach over to the right leg and bring your chest toward your knee.
- Slowly walk your hands over to the left leg.
- Hold each position for 10-15 seconds.
- Stand on a step with your heels about halfway off
- While holding on to something for balance, shift your weight backwards while allowing the heels to move downward.
- Hold this position for 15-20 seconds.
Practice makes perfect! So if you want to improve your vertical, you’re going to have to practice jumping. Perform the following exercise 2-3 days per week on days that you don’t do weight training.
Slightly bend your legs and jump straight up in the air. Land softly and go right back up until you complete 10 repetitions.
Lock your arms to your sides so all the power is generated by the legs.
Try to go back up as soon as you touch the ground.
Stand in front of a step or box that is at least knee high. Slightly bend the knees and jump onto the box. Step down and repeat.
Use a higher box to work more muscles, and you’ll have better results.
Focus on jumping with as much explosion as possible by activating the glutes, calves, and quads.
Perform these one leg at a time to build coordination.
Get into a lunge position and drive yourself off the ground from the lunge, switch legs in mid-air, and land back in the lunge position (your legs should be reversed from when you started). Continue until you have performed 10 reps per leg.
The lower the lunge, the more muscle work is required.
This exercise is great for working the quads, glutes, and hamstrings.
Combining this program with a regular strength training program, a healthy balanced diet, and proper rest/recovery will produce results within as little as a few weeks.