JJ Walker Jumping
Credit: Author's Own Image

Jumping over my friends in 2005

Jump Stronger, Jump Higher

Many people have asked me the about the best exercises to increase your vertical leap, and I always recommend they focus on explosive jumping and leg exercises. I usually get asked at the local indoor basketball court, where people are surprised to find out I can dunk on a ten foot rim despite only being 5'10". As a lifetime basketball player, and former track and field athlete I am happy to pass my jump training knowledge along to you so that you can increase your vertical leap just like I did.

The first piece of advice I can give you is to jump higher, first you have to jump stronger. When you leap into the air, your legs are attempting to throw your body weight against the force of Earth's gravity. The stronger force your legs can exert when you push off, the longer you can resist the force of gravity. People often comment that great jumpers have a lot of hangtime. If you want more hangtime, you have to produce more force to combat gravity and stay in the air longer.

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What Are Explosive Workouts?

You aren't going to start jumping higher by going jogging every morning. Jogging is a healthy habit, and does help build leg strength, but not the kind we need to increase vertical leap. To really see results fast you are going to want to utilize explosive workouts. Explosive workouts mean exercises that require you to exert a great amount of force over a short amount of time.

To understand explosive workouts, first you need to understand the benefits of high repition workout verus low repetition workouts.

Low Repetitions

  • Use More Weight
  • Perform Less Repetitions 
  • Complete Shorter Sets
  • Best For Increasing Strength

High Repetitions

  • Use Less Weight
  • Perform More Repetitions
  • Complete Longer Sets
  • Best For Increasing Endurance

So low repetitions work better for strength, and high repetitions work better for endurance. This does not mean that doing more repetitions won't help you build strength, or vice versa, but it does matter where you focus your training.[1]

Explosive jumping exercises are low repetition workouts. You want to have to exert maximum force every time you do a rep. That way, you focus working out the muscles your legs use for a quick and powerful pushing force. When you do an exercise like jogging, you aren't training the same muscles you use when leaping. When performing the lifts and jumps in this guide, try to focus on making quick, sharp bursts of movement. This is to ensure you trigger the correct areas of muscle to work out. Focus on maximizing your explosive workouts to increase your vertical jump quickly and effectively. Here are a few of my favorite explosive jumping training techniques.


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Increasing Vertical Leap With Weights

It can be very beneficial to you vertical leap training if you have even basic weights to train with. The first workout requires only a pair of dumb bells. Use a weight that you are comfortable with but will also give you a great(low rep) workout. 

Stand with your feet evenly spaced apart, looking forward with one dumb bell in each hand at your side. Keeping your back straight, bend your knees until you legs are almost at a 90 degree angle. Then jump into the air as high as you can. Really focus on using the muscles in your leg to push off the ground for maximum lift off. You want an explosive thrust into the air. Repeat this process until your legs become fatigued. If they get tired after one rep it's too much weight. If they aren' tired after ten reps, then you need more weight.

You can also do the standing calf raise if you've got two dumb bells. Holding the weights at your side like before, slowly lift up onto your ties, as high as you can go. Come down slowly. Keep going on and off of your tip toes untl your calves get tired. Remember, if they aren't getting tired after ten reps you need to add more weight.

If you have access to a squat bar, then you are in luck. Squats are probably the most effective tool for explosive vertical leap training.[2] For increasing jumping ability, you are going to want to focus on front barbell squats. Rest the bar on your upper chest or shoulders, palms facing up. Your elbows should be parallel to your legs and pointing straight in front of you. Slowly bend your knees and get as low as you can without bending your back. Then in one quick and explosive motion, push down with your legs thrust yourself back into your starting position. Use enough weight that you cannot complete more than 10 reps.

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Vertical Leap Exercises At Home

If you don't have an access to proper weight training equiment, you can still do explosive leaping exercises at home or outside. 

Find a raised surface that you can jump onto. This can be anything from a bench, to a counter, or even the bed of your truck. Make sure it is safe to jump on, and don't use something that is too low. Remember, we are training for strength so you shouldn't be able to do more than ten or fifteen reps.

Stand facing the object, feet squarely under your shoulders. Stand as close as you feel comfortable with. Without taking any steps or using your hands, leap vertically onto the surface. Stand straight up, then jump back down to the ground. Repeat this process. If you are using something tall enough,your legs should get tired after 5-10 reps. Take a short break and do a couple more reps.

If you are shorter and want to jump higher because you are a basketball player, try going to a nearby hoop to train your vertical jump. Bring a basketball. Holding the ball above your head, jump up and touch the backboard with the ball. Once you come down, immediately jump and touch it again. Repeat this process until you can't jump any more.

Remember, these workouts are called explosive for a reason. You need to push as hard as you can off the ground every time you leap. Your legs will get tired quickly, but keep at it until you can't any more. If your legs are nice and sore the next day, then you were doing proper explosive exercises.

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Train Harder So You Can Jump Higher,Faster!

Try using at least two of these training techniques as part of a daily work out plan. Try to stay focused on using explosive leg movement when you train. Those quick and powerful repetitions will soon translate to a stronger legs and core to push off the ground and really amp up your vertical leap. You can see a difference in just weeks.

You only get out what you put in. The harder you train, and the more often you train, the faster you can see results. Keep in mind when training to leap higher that this is a strength building process. If you want to build muscle the quickest you should use a high protein diet to complement your workouts. Remember, if you want to jump higher,faster, then you need to training with explosive jumping exercises to increase your vertical leap.