• Alex Parry

How to Increase Your Vertical Jump in 8 Weeks

So you want to jump higher? Sweet. I happen to think that a big vertical jump is a huge indicator of someone's athletic potential. It means you can produce a tonne of power really quickly, and that's a quality that will improve your performance in almost every sport there is.


Plus, if you play a sport like basketball, netball or volleyball, then increasing your vertical jump directly correlates with in-game skills like dunks, rebounds or returns.


In this article, I'm going to take you through the 3 methods that I use as a professional strength & conditioning coach to supercharge my athlete's vertical jumps in as little as 8 weeks. Plus, I'm gonna give you a sample programme you can follow. Follow this plan over the off-season and come back to your sport like an absolute machine...


First things First - Test Your Vertical Jump


If you want to increase your vertical jump then you've got to start by knowing what your current vertical jump actually is.


There are a few ways you can do this depending on the kit you have available.


a) You can use a vertec set up. (If you don't have one you can also make a vertec for about £25)



b) You can use force plates


These are expensive pieces of kit, but lots of universities and larger sports teams have them, and you'd be surprised how many S&C coaches are willing to let you come in and take a few measurements if you ask them nicely.



c) Use an App like MyJump


Apps like MyJump are a super cheap way to measure your own vertical jump heights on your phone. They take a little time to set up to your height and stats, so they're not ideal for full teams, but for measuring your own vertical jumps the app is surprisingly accurate.


.


Some simple standing vertical jumps should do the trick, but if you're trying to increase your vertical jump for dunking, you might also want to try a running single leg jump to replicate the movement you would use in a game.


Anyway, now that we've got some baseline jump scores it's time to start improving them.



Method 1: Improve Maximal Strength to Increase Your Vertical Jump


The foundation of all good jumps is a base of strength. It doesn't matter how quickly you can produce your force if the force you produce is basically nothing! If you give me two athletes, one of which can squat 50% of their bodyweight and the other of which can squat 150%, I'm betting everything I have on the athlete who squats 150%, and I'll win that bet 99 times out of 100.


So if you're serious about improving your vertical jump, you need to be focusing some real time and energy on building your lower body strength.



Increase Your Vertical Jump with These Exercises


Squats


One of the simplest and easiest ways to build your leg strength is with squats. You can use goblet squats, front squats or back squats depending on your preferences. I recommend 2 sessions per week, with 3 sets of 4-6 reps per session. Here's the first of a 3 part series all about front squat technique...



Deadlifts


A classic strength exercise that really targets your posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors) helping you create really aggressive hip extension. You can use classic deadlifts, or variations like Romanian deadlifts (RDL's) or stiff leg deadlifts. Personally, I have my athletes perform 2 to 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps.


.


For more strength training information, you might also want to check out my articles on 'A simple squat programme' and 'The 7 Best Strength Exercises'



Method 2: Develop Explosiveness to Increase Your Vertical Jump


Now that you're building a base of strength to work from, we can spend some time maximising what's known as your RFD, or 'Rate of Force Development,' which is how fast you can produce your force.


To do so, I'm a big fan of plyometrics. I reckon you've probably heard of them or done them before, but plyo's are essentially quick, aggressive jumping and bounding type movements.



Plyometric exercises that increase vertical jump




  • Countermovement Jumps

  • Box Jumps

  • Tuck Jumps

  • Depth Jumps

  • Forward Bounds

  • Zig Zag Bounds

  • Lateral Bounds


A little word of caution. Plyometrics are a potent stimulus, overdo them and you'll be sore for days. It's best to start with easier, lower impact movements and progress over time, keeping the sets and reps low. Typically I'll have my athletes do two sessions per week, with 3 to 4 sets of 3 to 5 reps per session.

Method 3: Improve Your Coordination & Movement Efficiency to Jump Higher


It's going to sound mean, but within strength and conditioning, coaches have a term for people with very little athleticism and body awareness...


'motor morons' You can be the strongest and most explosive athlete on the planet, but if you can't coordinate your body and move efficiently, you're never going to maximise your athletic potential, and you're never going to jump as high as you'd like.


The good news is that this quality can be trained and improved.


As an athlete, you need to get used to taking your body through numerous different types of movement, each with different rhythm's, tempos and challenges.


Ideally, this is accomplished throughout childhood through playing and engaging in a wide variety of activities, hobbies and sports, but it's becoming increasingly common for youth athletes to specialise in one sport way too early, missing out on this wider development.


So, if you feel like you're strong and explosive, but still not jumping very high, this might be the missing piece of your puzzle...


Here's an example circuit of exercises


a) Dance to music (Yes, you read that right)

b) Hurdles over and under

c) Side Lunge

d) Throw a ball against a wall and catch it

d) Single-Leg RDL


The dancing will improve your rhythm and flow, the hurdles will improve your awareness of your body at various heights, the side lunge will improve your movement in an unfamiliar plane, the throws and catches will improve coordination and reaction time, and the single leg rdl will improve balance and proprioception.


Become a better all-round athlete, and you WILL jump higher.



8 Week Vertical Jump Programme


This 8 week programme will have you training twice per week, with as much time between those two days as possible. So you might train Monday and Thursday, or perhaps Tuesday and Saturday. You'll perform the same workout twice each week, but you can use different weights based on how you feel each day.


Jump Higher Workout 1 (Weeks 1-2)


  • 5 exercise coordination and movement circuit

  • Box Jumps - 4 sets of 4 reps

  • Squat - 3 sets of 6 reps

  • Deadlift - 2 sets of 6 reps


Jump Higher Workout 2 (Weeks 3-4)


  • 5 exercise coordination and movement circuit (You can pick and mix different exercises if you want)