• 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)

  • Box Jumps - 2 sets of 3 reps

  • Squat Jumps - 2 sets of 4 reps

  • Squat - 3 sets of 5 reps

  • Deadlift - 2 sets of 5 reps


Jump Higher Workout 3 (Weeks 5-6)


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

  • Squat Jumps - 2 sets of 3 reps

  • Tuck Jumps - 2 sets of 4 reps

  • Squat - 3 sets of 4 reps

  • Deadlift - 2 sets of 4 reps


Jump Higher Workout 4 (Weeks 7-8)


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

  • Tuck Jumps - 2 sets of 3 reps

  • Depth Jumps - 4 sets of 2 reps

  • Squat - 3 sets of 3 reps

  • Deadlift - 2 sets of 3 reps


And then after the programme, I recommend you take a 'light' or deload week. (A simple way is to halve the number of sets of all exercises) and test your vertical jump at the end of that week.


Your vertical jump will have improved.



Frequently Asked Questions About Increasing Vertical Jump Height


Do "Jump" Programs Really Work?


There's this weird idea going around that jump height is purely genetic and can't be changed that much by training. That is just plain wrong. If you get stronger, more explosive and better coordinated, you WILL increase your vertical jump.


You might not add 20" in a few weeks, like some BS marketers seem to claim, but you will absolutely improve.



Will Jumping Every Day Increase Your Vertical Jump?


Technically yes, but I really wouldn't advise it. To jump higher your body needs recovery time in between training sessions. Putting loads of stress on your knees, hips and ankles every single day is a significant injury risk. Stick to 2-3 sessions per week and you'll increase your vertical jump in a much safer manner.



How to increase vertical jump for dunking?


The same way you increase vertical jump for anything else, follow the plan above. The only thing you might want to do differently is get plenty of technical practice in for the dunk itself. Make sure you're running up, approaching and jumping correctly.



Do squats make you jump higher?


Yes, squats build leg strength and leg strength helps you jump higher. Just make sure that you also do your plyometric exercises and coordination drills to maximise the transfer of strength to jump height.



Are there shoes that make you jump higher?


Time to be honest with you, you can put the best jumpers in the worst shoes and they're still going to be amazing at jumping. On the other hand if you suck at jumps, there's no pair of shoes that's magically going to make you jump loads higher. If you really want to have a look, the hoops geek did an awesome breakdown of different shoes that make you jump higher, and found that even the best pairs only made a tiny, tiny difference. (But cost $400+) For that money, you could literally hire someone like me as your personal coach for two months and make way more improvements.



Stretches to increase vertical jump?


All things considered, stretches don't make that much difference to how high you can jump for most people. With that said, if you're someone who tends to be quite stiff, especially around the hips, then some basic hip flexibility work might be useful. Personally I recommend going through a range of dynamic flexibility exercises before every workout as part of your warm-up.



How to increase your vertical jump at home?


In exactly the same way that we discussed above. The only difference is that you might not have access to heavier weights for your squat and deadlift. To get around this you can try out exercises such as single leg squats and single leg feet elevated hamstring bridges. I recommend adding a few reps though. So instead of 3 sets of 5 you might do 3 sets of 10.



Next Steps


Alright, that's enough reading for today, time for action...


1) Get in the gym and start working through the 8 week programme. Get stronger, more explosiveness, and jump higher.


2) If you want more training tips, workouts and programmes, feel free to join my mailing list.


3) And if you're looking for 1:1 strength and conditioning coaching to improve your sports performance, you can find more information about my services here.


'Til Next Time Alex



Alex Parry, MSc, BA


Alex's experience includes 7+ years within strength & conditioning, including supporting 2 major universities, 2 national talent pathways and a selection of international level athletes.


He is also a tutor and educator for British Weightlifting