In this guide, we take a look at how you can increase your vertical leap. The guide will provide you with the top vertical jump program out there, as well as some of the best exercises for increasing your jump height.
Have you ever been sitting in the stands watching a high school basketball game and a kid from the opposing team rises up out of nowhere, dunks it, and shocks the crowd?
The kid is 5’9 and 15-years old! How is he dunking?
Or maybe you were playing against the kid and thinking…. I wish I could dunk.
Or, perhaps, you were a defensive back in high school and you can remember covering that stud receiver from the other team and regardless of how well you covered him, he’d just jump over you and make catches.
Regardless, anyone who plays sports knows that the players who can jump high always have a huge advantage.
And, that is even truer at the high school and youth levels of sports.
If you are a high school athlete (or the parent of one), increasing your vertical jump height is one of the best ways to separate yourself from the competition.
It doesn’t matter whether you can already jump high, or if you can barely get off the ground…
Every inch you add to your vertical will make you a better player.
And, the good news is that increasing your vertical is attainable. In fact, most athletes never even come close to reaching their maximum jump height.
Part of the reason for this is that most athletes never specifically focus on their jump height. But, to avoid working on increasing your vertical is to leave a lot of athletic ability on the table.
A lot of athletes are misinformed about how to go about jumping higher. And, because of this, I’ve put together this guide on how to jump higher and increase your vertical.
In this guide, I’ll cover…
- Why you need to stick to a good program (as well as give you suggestions on which ones work the best)
- The mindset you’ll need to have in order to succeed in increasing your vertical
- The importance of keeping track of your progress
- Some specific exercises and workouts that are aimed at increasing your vertical
After going through this guide, you’ll see that not only is it possible for you to jump higher but if you stick to a solid jump training program, you can get results fairly quickly.
I. Recommended Jump Training Programs
Sticking to a proven jump training program is a huge factor in determining the results you will get.
Yes, you can increase your vertical by putting together your own jump training program. A lot of athletes see results by combining specific “jump-oriented” exercises to create their own regimen.
However, there are also programs out there that are extremely well organized and are based on years of experience and proven results (and come with plenty of testimonials to back them up.)
The top program (in my opinion) is Vert Shock. Vert Shock promises an increase of 9-15” to your vertical leap. The program is easily one of the best options out there… but it has one major downside…
It isn’t free…
In my opinion, though, the cost of Vert Shock is worth it… especially for those who aren’t comfortable putting together their own program.
However, I realize that not everyone is going to want to pay the $67 that the program costs. If that’s the case, then you can skip this section and scroll down to the Jump Training Workouts section.
But, before you do, I do give away one copy of Vert Shock each week. So, if you do want a chance to get the program for free, you can sign up for the giveaway here.
And, if you are interested in at least checking out what Vert Shock has to offer, the section below will provide a brief overview of it.
Vert Shock: The Best Jump Training Program
Vert Shock was created by two basketball players, Adam Folker and Justin ‘Jus Fly’ Darlington.
Folker played basketball at UC Irvine and spent time playing professionally in Europe.
Justin Darlington is a professional dunker who has an insane 50.1” vertical leap.
Its main selling point is its promise of increasing your vertical between 9-15”, but perhaps the main reason why people love it is that it is incredibly easy to follow.
Unlike other programs out there, Vert Shock is well-organized. Where other programs often leave you wondering which exercises and workouts you should perform on each day, Vert Shock gives you a strict day-by-day plan to follow so that you always know which workout you need to be doing.
At $67, the program is a bit pricey…
But if you consider the potential that adding 9-15” to your vertical jump would have on your athletic ability over the long run, the price is very reasonable.
It’s $67 to make you a significantly better athlete!
And, the program is not just something that was created to sell you a pipe dream so that the course-creators could make a quick buck, either.
In fact, the program has received hundreds of rave reviews and has helped thousands of athletes significantly increase their vertical jump.
It’s produced proven results time and time again…
But don’t take my word for it. Check out a handful of testimonials that Vert Shock users have sent in on the results they have gotten with the program:
“I was really skeptical at first but the results are amazing. Vert Shock helped me make a Professional roster.”
– Paul Parker
“Before starting Vert Shock I was just grazing the rim.. After week 7 I threw down my first dunk!”
– Will Peters
After about 5 weeks I finally threw down my first dunk and it felt amazing. This program is the best program out there and it really works.”
– Jani Kidd
These are literally just a handful of hundreds of positive testimonials the program has. (You can see all of the testimonials here.)
Ultimately, not everyone is going to want to spend money on the program. If that’s you, the good news is that you can still increase your vertical jump by putting together your own program. (Check out the rest of the guide for information on how to do so.)
But, before you read on… if you do want to get Vert Shock, but you don’t want to pay for it, check the section below for your chance to get a free copy…
Vert Shock Giveaway
I realize that not everyone wants to spend $67 on a premium program. However, I feel like Vert Shock is such a good product that every month I giveaway the program to one winner.
If you are interested in checking out the program, but you don’t really want to pay for it, you can enter for your chance to win a free copy by clicking the link below.
CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY
II. How to Jump Higher: Getting Started
In my opinion, your best chance to get the most out of any effort to increase your jump height is to A) stick to a proven program, and B) develop a positive mindset that you can increase your vertical.
Obviously, a program is important because it will help you keep to a strict schedule and will keep you from straying off course.
And, having the right mindset will ensure that you stick to the program and see it through until you have solid results.
Below, I will discuss further why each of these two aspects are important…
Choosing/Creating A Solid Jump Training Program
As I’ve mentioned above, there is one main premium program that I recommend if you want a proven regimen for increasing your vertical height: Vert Shock.
However, if you don’t want to pay for a program, I have a list of recommendations of exercises, stretches, and warm-ups you can incorporate into your own regimen.
But, it is important that you know that it is vital that you stick to a program if you want to see maximum results.
Oftentimes, athletes who want to increase their vertical jump get sidetracked, or do a bunch of random exercises that they think will make them jump higher.
What ends up happening in these cases, though, is that the athlete doesn’t see the results they want and ultimately gives up. While simply having a program won’t keep someone from giving up, it certainly make the process easier, as you won’t have to worry about whether or not you’re doing the right workout.
So, before you start trying to increase your vertical, be sure that you have a plan in place to help you do so.
Developing the Right Mindset To Increase Your Vertical
Your mindset is critical to the results you will get. And, really, this is just as true for any other aspect of your life as it is for training yourself to jump higher.
Developing the right mindset consists of a couple of things…
- First, you have to want to be able to jump higher.
- And, second, you must believe that you can jump higher.
If you fail to approach a training program (or any other endeavor in life for that matter) without these two attitudes, you will end up disappointed.
The reason for this is that, if you don’t really want it bad enough, you won’t be hungry enough to stick with the program that will help you jump higher.
And, if you don’t believe you can jump higher in the first place, you won’t take your training seriously and you will likely quit.
If you want to develop a better mindset, one thing you can do is to visualize your success. A lot of athletes now are turning to visualization methods to improve their skills and overall games.
Visualization helps athletes get comfortable performing at a high level in their minds first. And, when you can see or visualize something in your mind first, it makes it much easier to perform that way in reality.
So, if you are doubting that you can jump higher, practice visualizing being able to actually jump higher. If you are a basketball player, this could be achieved by closing your eyes and imagining that you are dunking.
Dunk on the opposing team.
Dunk on your brother.
Dunk on your mother.
Dunk on the mailman.
Every time you walk past someone, imagine just dunking all over them.
When you lay in bed at night, close your eyes and start visualizing yourself dunking. Actually try to picture and feel what it would be like to dunk.
You can do the same if you are a wide receiver, or a volleyball player, or a defensive end, or just any athlete who wants to be able to jump higher.
What it all boils down to is that the body will never be able to do what the mind doesn’t think it can do. So, the key here is to convince your own mind that you can jump higher.
If you can do that, you’ll not only want to jump higher, you’ll believe you can.
III. How to Jump Higher: Jump Training Exercises & Workouts
In this section, I’ll break down the key components of putting together a quality jump training workout program.
I’ll cover why you need to measure your current vertical (before you even start training), as well as the best ways to get an accurate measurement.
Then, I’ll go into the importance of warming up before you start (and give you some good warm-up exercises.)
Next, I’ll cover stretching, including the best stretches to do and why stretching is crucial to your success.
Then, I’ll give you a list of effective exercises that you can add to your program. These are the meat of the program.
And, finally, I’ll go over why you need to cool down after your workouts and what kind of cooldown routines you can do.
1. Measuring Your Current Vertical
Before you dive into creating a program and starting it, you need to get your current vertical height so that you have something to track your progress with.
There are a couple of different ways to test your vertical…
The first and cheapest way is to…
- Stand next to a wall at an elbow’s length (place your hands on your hip and let your elbow barely touch the wall.
- Reach up with the hand nearest the wall and mark that spot. This is your standing reach.
- Get a piece of chalk and hold it in your hand closest to the wall.
- Jump as high as you can and mark the wall with your chalk.
- Take the measurement from your standing reach to the spot you were able to mark with the piece of chalk. This will give you your vertical jump height.
This, obviously, isn’t going to give you an extremely precise measurement to work with. But it will be accurate enough. And, as long as you use the same method each time, it will show you what your progress is.
A more accurate method would be to use a Jump Tester (like these here.) The problem with these, obviously, is that they are way too expensive. In fact, the only scenario in which I recommend using one of these is if you’re a coach, trainer, or athletic director who is purchasing it to test a large number of athletes over time and who needs as accurate of a number as possible for scouting purposes.
Ultimately, though, using the chalk method will give you a fairly accurate measurement and will give you a benchmark to compare yourself against as you progress through your training.
2. Warming Up Properly
Warming up before your workouts is critical to reducing your injury risk. Obviously, if you get injured during any training program, your results will be delayed.
The philosophy behind warming up has changed quite a bit over the years. Whereas before it was recommended to stretch extensively before a workout, now best practice suggests some dynamic stretches and light movements before a workout.
The idea is to perform similar motions to the motions you will go through in your workout as a way to prepare your body for maximum intensity.
Generally speaking, giving yourself 5-12 minutes to go through your warm up routine is ideal.
For a jumping-specific training program, the following are good exercises to perform as warm-ups:
Jumping rope for 2-3 minutes before one of your training regimens is a great way to prepare your body for maximum intensity exercises.
Jumping rope is also a great way to improve your quickness and endurance.
Some light body weight lunges will also allow you to warm up your body and get loosened up before your workout.
For some added flexibility and to get your body more prepared for your workout, you can do lunges with a twist (twist at the core at the end of each lunge). Side lunges are a good alternative as well.
Standing High Knees or Knees to Chest
For these, simply bring your knees up to your chest, alternating legs. This will loosen your legs up and help get you warmed up and ready for your workout.
In high kicks, you’re just lightly kicking your leg (either alternating each leg or doing one at a time) up in front of you as high as you can. It’s best to work slowly up to your highest point on these. So, start by kicking up about a quarter of the way to the highest you can kick up and going a bit higher each time.
Doing Your Weighted Exercises Without Weights
So, if you are doing Bulgarian split squats, or weighted calf raises, some other dynamic stretching and warm up exercises you can do is to simply do those exercises without weight.
3. Effective Jump Training Exercises
There are a ton of different exercises that will help you improve your vertical leap. Some of them are exercises specifically related to improving your leap, while others are general lower-body strength exercises that will help you jump higher as a secondary effect of strengthening your lower body.
While this is an extensive list of different exercises you can incorporate into your training program, you will only want to select a few of these to add to your workout. As mentioned above, the ones you will choose to add to your own program will depend on your specific needs.
For example, if you’re a football player, you may want to focus more on the weight-specific exercises listed below, rather than the strictly jump-specific exercises. This is because, as a football player, your primary goal is to develop power and explosiveness, and you don’t want to limit your regimen to only increase your vertical height.
On the other hand, if you’re a basketball player or volleyball player who is looking to jump higher, you can add more of the jump-specific exercises listed below to your workout.
Bulgarian Split Squats
Bulgarian split squats are great for building single-leg strength and balance.
In a Bulgarian split squat, you elevate your rear foot (on a weight bench, or something else that is sturdy) behind you and squat down until your knee touches the ground.
These can be performed without weights for beginners, or with dumbbells in each hand or a weight vest/chains to increase the difficulty of the exercise and increase your gains.
If you’re going to add Bulgarian split squats to your program, start out with 3-4 sets of ~8-10 reps.
Deadlifts are perhaps the best lift around. They develop back, leg, and core strength and just make you an all-around stronger and more powerful athlete.
To perform a deadlift, you can either use an Olympic barbell, a trap bar, or dumbbells. Keeping your back straight, you lift the weight off the ground until you come into a standing position.
Maintaining good form is crucial if you are going to add deadlifts to your routine.
If you’re going to add deadlifts to your program, start out with 3-4 sets of ~8-10 reps.
Depth jumps are a great way to increase lower body strength, increase your vertical, and help develop explosiveness.
To perform a depth jump, the athlete, who is standing on a box (typically ~30” high), drops off of it, and as soon as they land, quickly jumps back up as high as possible.
Depth jumps are a fairly intensive exercise and should not be performed for high reps or more than twice per week.
If you’re going to add depth jumps to your program, start out with three sets of three reps.
In a 6-week study conducted on Truman State University athletes, the athletes added Knee-to-Feet jumps to their regular training. The addition of knee-to-feet jumps showed an overall increase in jumping height across the athletes.
To do a knee-to-feet jump, you start out on your knees and sit back on your heels. Then you swing your arms to help create momentum and you jump from your knees onto your feet, landing in a squat position.
To mix it up, you can add a vertical jump after you’ve landed in the squat position, or, instead of landing on two feet, you can try landing on just one foot. These two additions to the knee-to-feet jump can be seen in this video.
Like depth jumps, these should be performed at most a few times per week and the reps per set should be low.
If you want to add these to your program, start out with 3-4 sets of 3-4 reps.
In a weight-release jump, you hold two dumbbells (you want light dumbbells for this) at your side, dip down slightly (like a mini deadlift), and quickly leap as high as you can, dropping the dumbbells as you lift off of the floor.
Other variations of the weight-release jump have you land on a box. (So, a weight-release box jump.)
This is another high-intensity exercise that should be performed with low-rep sets a couple of times per week at most.
If you want to add these to your program, start out with 2-3 sets of 3-5 reps.
Power cleans might seem a bit strange on a list of exercises to include into a jump training program. However, power cleans are perhaps the best lift out there for developing overall strength and explosiveness, which, in turn, can help you jump higher.
And, research has shown that an increase in the weight you can power clean correlates to a higher vertical jump.
Power cleans are performed by lifting a barbell off the ground, whips it up into the air, and squats beneath it. (See video for a demonstration.)
If you want to add power cleans to your program, start out with 3-4 sets of 4-6 reps.
Lateral jumps are quick side-to-side jumps that help develop quickness and can improve your vertical jump height.
It is helpful to have a line to jump back-and-forth over, or specifically marked spots on the ground to help you keep your lateral jumps consistent.
You can also do single-leg lateral jumps as a more intensive variation.
Unlike some of the other exercises listed here, you can perform higher reps of lateral jumps if you are doing the two-legged variety. Do lower reps if you are doing the single-leg variation.
If you want to add lateral jumps to your program, start with 3-4 sets of 15-20 reps.
Box jumps are another great way to increase your vertical jump and offer an exercise that is much less stressful on your joints than traditional vertical jumps (because the landing height is much lower.)
For box jumps, you simply jump from the ground onto a box. If you’re just starting out, you’ll want to start with a smaller box and as you perfect the form and landing, you can step up to larger boxes for bigger gains.
If you want to add box jumps to your program, start with 2-4 sets of 4-6 reps.
For a tuck jump, you do a quarter squat, drive your arms up and jump up, lift your knees towards your chest, and then bend your knees as you land to absorb the contact with the ground.
Tuck jumps are yet another great exercise to add to a jump training program as they will help increase your vertical.
If you want to add tuck jumps to your program, start with 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps.
Alternating Lunge Jumps
Lunge jumps are essentially a lunge combined with a jump at the end. Alternating lunge jumps are the same thing, but you alternate your legs after each rep. (See the video for a demonstration.)
If you want to add alternating lunge jumps to your program, start with 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps.
4-Corners is a drill in which you jump back and forth between quadrants along the ground. To help keep you in your quadrants, you can use two pieces of tape to create a “plus-sign” on the ground. That will form the four quadrants that you will jump back and forth between.
Many programs call for jumping from each quadrant in a specific pattern. Some suggest going clockwise or counterclockwise around the quadrants, while others suggest mixing in diagonal jumps between the quadrants as well.
As a more intensive variation, you can even do the drill on a single leg as well.
If you want to add the 4-Corners drill to your program, you can start with 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps (where a rep is one completion through each quadrant.)
If you want to stick to the basics, simply by increasing the strength of your lower body, you can increase your vertical leap.
While there are a lot of jump-specific exercises out there that can help you get those final few inches out of your maximum potential, doing squats is one way to build strength and increase your vertical.
Like deadlifts and power cleans, squats are great for athletes who want to become a more powerful athlete overall, as well as increase their vertical.
If you’re more focused on increasing your jump height, though, you can try speed squats, which are a different variation of traditional squats, where you use lighter weight, but squat much more quickly.
If you want to add squats to your program, you can start with 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps.
While your quads are the biggest contributor to your ability to jump, there are a ton of other muscle groups that help your get off the ground. One of those is your calves.
To do a calf raise, you simply stand flat and then lift yourself to the tip of your toes and lower back down. It helps to do these on the edge of a step or box. And, these can be performed with or without weights.
For weighted calf raises, do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps. And, for non-weighted calf raises, do 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps.
Backward Medicine Ball Toss
A backward medicine ball toss is pretty self-explanatory. You get a medicine ball, grab it by the sides, and using your whole body, you toss it over your head and behind you.
The backward medicine ball toss is great for improving your vertical jump (and making you stronger overall), because it starts out with a very similar motion to jumping and helps you develop power and explosiveness.
If you want to add the backward medicine ball toss to your program, you can start with 2-3 sets of 6-8 reps.
Do you want to jump higher? Well, you can start by simply jumping more. Straight vertical jumps, where you just aim to jump as high as you can, should be incorporated into any jump training program.
If you’re a basketball player, you can just do 3-4 sets of 8-10 dunks. If you can’t dunk on a 10-foot hoop, lower it and gradually increase your hoop’s height as your vertical increases.
Jump squats are another good exercise for anyone looking to get a better vertical leap. In a jump squat (or squat jump), you squat down and jump up as high as you can reaching your hands up as high as possible.
You can add weight as well, but it’s important to note that if you want to do weighted jump squats, that you need to start off with extremely light weight and progress upwards. The extra weight will add more stress to your knees and should only be undertaken by extreme athletes.
If you do want to add jump squats to your program, you can start with 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps.
4. Cooling Down
Cooling down after a workout is something that a lot of athletes skip out on. However, like stretching, cooling down will help you increase your recovery time (by helping transfer your body back into a normal state more quickly) and will help you reduce your chances of injury.
For a cooldown, you can follow some of the dynamic stretches in the warm up section, or you can do some light cardio, such as:
- Jumping rope
- Light jogging
- Riding an exercise bike
Basically, any kind of light movement-based exercise that will help you get your body and heart rate back into a normal state should do the trick.
As we’ve discussed above, a lot of the stretching you’re going to be doing will come through dynamic stretches while you’re warming up for your workout.
Things like lunges, leg kids, knees to chest, etc. will all help you improve your flexibility and will work great when warming up for your jump training workouts.
While dynamic stretching is best-suited for warming up your body before a workout, static stretches (stretches where you hold a stretch for longer periods of time) are better-suited (and necessary) for after your workout.
After a workout your muscles will be tight and doing some static stretches will help reduce that tightness, which will allow you to recover more quickly.
And, stretching before you go to bed is also beneficial as it helps loosen you up and relaxes you, which will allow you to sleep better, thus resulting in improved recovery time.
The following stretches are good options to add to your post-workout:
- Seated hamstring stretches
- Seated groin stretches
- Standing calf stretches
- Standing quadricep stretches
- Hip flexor stretches
It should be important to note that, for the purpose of increasing your vertical jump, the object with stretching is to not become incredibly flexible, as becoming too flexible can actually hurt your ability to jump higher.
Rather, your goal should be to loosen up sore muscles and help your body relax, which will ultimately help you recover faster.
If you want to increase your vertical, your best bet is to go with a proven jump-training-specific program. I recommend Vert Shock as it is probably the best program currently available.
While not everyone will want to pay for a premium program, the benefits of following a proven template will give you a better chance of success. The reason is that these programs have been put together by professionals who have years of experience and have gotten real results not only for themselves but for a ton of other athletes as well.
For those of you who want to go it alone and don’t want to pay for a premium program like Vert Shock, you can use the information in this guide to help you put together your own program.
Ultimately, your results are going to come down to the effort you put in, your dedication to the program you use, and your belief in your ability to get good results.
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