If you’re looking to increase your vertical jump and don’t know where to start, getting into plyometric exercises early on can give you an edge when it comes to improving your jump.
Plyometrics are exercises that consist of quick, explosive, and intense movements that try to build power by exerting your body.
Although they aren’t the easiest workouts you can get into, the more you use plyometrics for vertical jump training, the more you’ll adjust to the quick movements and find your body exerting more force.
The plyometric exercises from which you can choose may vary according to the muscle group you want to focus on.
Plyometric exercises are split into upper body and lower body workouts, and there are many exercises to choose from.
So, to make the choosing process a little bit easier, we’ll be mainly looking at lower body exercises with a few upper body workouts thrown in.
Although you’ll still want to perform upper body exercises to have a balanced workout and a healthy body, our priority is to focus mainly on the lower body exercises, as these will contribute the most to our ability to jump higher.
So now that we have our goal in mind, let’s look at some of the best plyometric exercises you can start using to increase your vertical jump.
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Plyometrics For Vertical Jump Training (8 Exercises)
Something you’ll probably notice about many of these workouts is that they’re rather basic in their approach, but this is actually fantastic since the simplicity allows you to add more to the exercise.
Although these are already great exercises by themselves, you can use variations by including weights or changing other factors.
Adding variations will come in handy, especially as we adapt ourselves to the plyometrics exercises so that we can continue to progress our jumping ability to higher levels.
Lower Body Exercises
We’ll first look at the lower body plyometric exercises, as these are the main exercises that will increase your vertical by focusing on the legs and core.
They can mainly be characterized as jumping exercises or jump-specific movements, which works well for our purposes since the act of replicating the motion of jumping helps to work the muscles closely related to that function.
1. Box Jumps
Box jumps are a fantastic jumping plyometric exercise that is truly one of the best exercises that will help with both explosiveness and coordination when jumping.
If you don’t have previous experience with box jumps, practice jumping up and down on the ground with proper form and swinging your arms up and down while extending your hip.
This will act as a good warm-up and is a good precaution to make sure your form is correct. You can then start with either a 12-inch or 6-inch box and build your way up to bigger boxes.
Step 1. When jumping onto the box, feet are spread hip to shoulder width, arms are brought back in preparation to perform an upwards swing motion.
Knees are slightly bent with your hip dropped back; keep a tall spine and a straight back during the entire process.
Use this form to maximize your overall force when jumping up onto the box.
Step 2. Push off the ground with both of your feet as your arms provide the swinging motion upwards, jumping onto the box and land on both of your feet.
Step 3. Once you land on the box, step up fully and pause for a second to allow the motion to pass. From here you can either jump down with proper landing or simply step down to begin the next repetition.
Avoid having your knees collapse inwards when jumping and landing by maintaining a strong stance, and be sure to prevent your back from rounding over by keeping it straight.
To counteract these problems, you want to maintain a firm stance throughout the entire secession when you jump and land.
With this exercise, there are so many variations you can create, such as using higher boxes, jumping with only one foot, and even incorporating weights. That’s why I say it’s one of the best exercises you can perform since it has the versatility to be a beneficial exercise for both beginners and advanced.
Sprints are about as basic as you can get, yet sprinting is a fundamental plyometric exercise that does a fantastic job of engaging the entire body.
For the sprinting motion, your feet are all times in dorsiflexion, which is when the toes are pointed back towards the shin so that we only contact the floor through the balls of our feet.
we’ll also be pushing with our legs and exerting as much force as possible, while at the same time using our arms to generate a swinging motion that will drive us forwards.
The way to go about a sprint is to set a goal not too far in the distance, such as a wall on the opposite side or a cone, and then running as quickly as you can towards that goal.
When sprinting we want to focus on doing short-distance sprints where we reduce the overall time running and instead focus on maximizing the power we put into each sprint.
Keeping the sprint short distance is also going to allow for a higher set of repetitions, which will translate into brief intervals of explosive movements.
Avoid long-distance running; the moment you fall under maximum output with regards to your energy while running, you’re now training for endurance, not explosiveness.
3. Depth Jumps
Depth Jumps are another fantastic jumping plyometric exercise that makes use of an elevated surface from which you come down and then explosively jump once you touch the ground.
Step 1. Start on an elevated platform such as a small box that is a few inches high. Take one foot out as you descend to the ground, but before your feet touch the ground you want to have both feet descending at the same time.
It’s a quick move where you transfer from one foot acting as your pointer foot to both of your feet arriving at the ground. At the same time, your arms are held behind you, getting ready to perform a swinging motion.
Step 2. We want to be on the ground as little as possible so as we land we want to kick off the ground from the balls of our feet and push ourselves upwards while swinging our arms upwards to use the motion behind the swing as an added driving force.
Step 3. In the air have your arms and legs fully extended, and as you descend slightly bend the knees outwards to land safely. You can then repeat the exercise as needed for additional repetitions.
The nature of this exercise is to start off slow while descending and then jump up explosively the moment we touch the ground.
It’s important to keep in mind that we want to reduce contact with the floor as much as possible, so pushing off at maximum intensity is the ideal action.
4. Squat Jumps
Squat jumps are explosive movements that target the extension of the hip while incorporating the rest of the body to generate a lot of force. Squat Jumps have also been used to measure lower-body power, as this exercise is very demanding of a strong lower body.
Step 1. To begin the squat jump, start in a standing position with your feet separate about shoulder-width and your chest held up. Come down into a squatting position by bending the knees while keeping a straight back and putting your hands out in front of you.
Step 2. When jumping, drive up with your hands by bringing them back and swing them upwards, incorporating a swinging motion that adds force. Follow this motion by kicking up from the balls of your feet and jumping up explosively.
Step 3. In the air, your body is fully extended with your hands held up high, and as you come down, bend the knees for a safe landing and bring the arms down and back. You should now be in your original squatting position, ready to begin the next repetition.
A fantastic variation of the squat jump is the inclusion of a barbell above the shoulders, adding resistance to you as you jump. This variation of the exercise is however more controlled as it includes weights and as such takes much more precaution, but it still enacts on the explosive moments you would perform normally.
5. Lateral Bounds
Lateral bounds are explosive movements where you jump from side to side, trying to reduce the amount of time you’re on the ground by as much as possible.
Unlike side to side jumps, where you try to jump over an object and land on both feet, lateral bounds don’t involve you jumping as high, and you instead land on one foot.
Step 1. To start, jump from one side to another, and as the pointer foot comes down, land on the ball of your foot, with your leg acting as a spring. Bend the knee of the pointer foot and sync your hip with the motion of jumping from side to side.
Make sure to keep your hip, knee, and toes in line with each other. At the same time you want to keep your core tight, and your weight is going to be kept in front of you, with your shoulders in front of your hip, and your hip in front of your toes.
You are going to have your opposite foot come across from behind you, tapping the ground and forming a strong stance. Your arms are going to be mainly used for balancing yourself and will provide you with a little force from the swinging motion.
Step 2. Once you fully come down, now move to the opposite side, pushing off from the ball of your pointer foot, and extending your knee to jump laterally. Your opposite foot, now your pointer foot, is going to again act as a spring by coming in straight and bending as it goes into the ground.
From there you repeat the process, making sure to keep good form and technique as you slowly get faster and faster at the lateral jump. Try to reduce the amount of time you’re on the floor, as this will help intensify the exercise and make for a more explosive movement.
Upper Body Exercises
Now that we have a few lower body exercises to use, let’s now look at some upper body exercises that we can implement to further develop our jump and leave us balanced.
1. Bent-Over Row
Bent-Over Rows are a very good exercise that incorporates the upper body in a controlled movement, by pulling up the weight of the bar with force.
For beginners, I recommend having the barbell on an elevated platform from where you can grab hold of it, as this allows you to have your back in a better position and reduces any strain on the hamstrings.
As you develop your flexibility, you can perform the exercise from a lower position, eventually starting from the ground, but as a beginner, an elevated platform will be much safer and better for your body.
Step 1. To start doing Bent-Over Rows, deadlift the bar into a standing position, and then bend slightly forward bringing the bar down until your back is a little less than parallel to the floor.
While in this position, make sure to maintain proper form by keeping your spine neutral and your back straight. Secure your feet on the ground to increase your overall stability, and check to make sure that your form and posture are solid.
Step 2. Bring the bar up towards your stomach and bring your elbows back, squeezing the bar with your hands to improve your grip.
Step 3. Once you have brought the bar up, then bring it back down to its original position in a controlled manner to continue further repetitions.
Although this exercise involves an explosive movement, it does, however, include weights and as such requires the proper precaution of making sure your form is correct as well as carrying out the action of bringing the bar up in a controlled manner.
2. Medicine Ball Overhead Throw
An extremely simple yet highly effective exercise is the medicine ball overhead throw. This exercise makes use of the triple extension, which is the extension of the ankles, knees, and hip all at the same time.
Triple extension is an action that can be found in practically every athletic move, so by training using triple extension we improve ourselves all around.
Step 1. To perform the medicine ball overhead throw, begin by holding the medicine ball and standing with your feet spread a little bit wider than shoulder-width.
Step 2. Bend down into a quarter squat as you bring the ball down and hold it in between your legs.
Step 3. Activate the ankles, knees, and hips to extend as you throw the ball up into the air in one explosive movement. The ball will naturally go behind you, from which you can then go retrieve the ball and repeat the exercise for additional repetitions.
The key point of this exercise is to involve every part of the body as you come up from the squat and throw the ball into the air with as much force as possible. The medicine ball overhead throw, however, is just one of the many different exercises that incorporate a medicine ball.
I would suggest you expand your use of the medicine ball, as it has many other alternatives and exercise variations, such as the medicine ball broad ball jump.
An Extra Exercise For Improving Your Vertical
There are also body-weight exercises that train the upper body, such as clapping pushes, which can be used as an alternative to the weight training exercises mentioned above.
This next exercise is mainly targeted towards basketball players, although anyone looking to improve their vertical jump can carry out this exercise.
Yes, dunking is an exercise that incorporates a wide variety of muscles and trains the body to become more proficient at jumping and maneuvering in the air. If you compare it to other recommended exercises, such as squats and lunges, it focuses on much the same muscle groups and uses a similar motion.
The action of running, jumping, dunking, and then squatting down as you land, all with the added resistance of a basketball, is a fantastic workout that involves the entire body.
Especially if you are into basketball, dunking is a workout you want to add to your routine. Considering that you’re performing other exercises that will increase your vertical, dunking will pair well with those exercises as you practice reaching the rim and getting the ball in the hoop.
Of course, trying to learn how to dunk isn’t the easiest task, and as such, you may be more inclined to leave dunking out of your routine. However, if you want to learn how to dunk while incorporating plyometric exercises that improve your vertical, then I recommend Vert Shock, a vertical jump program.
Vert Shock is a vertical jump program created by Adam Folker and Justin “Jus Fly” Darlington. The program includes 8 weeks of training composed of only plyometrics exercises and can effectively increase your vertical by 9 to 15 inches.
The exercises don’t require any equipment and the program already structures the appropriate exercises you need to perform to start seeing major results in a matter of weeks.
If you want more information on Vert Shock you can visit the official site, and you can also check out my review on the program where I talk about my experience with Vert Shock and the results that I got.
Benefits of Plyometrics
Aside from an increase in jump height, plyometric exercises also provide many other benefits that make them exceptionally useful outside of jump training, here are two of those benefits:
• The type 2B or “fast-twitch” muscle fibers that you have in your body have their stretch-shortening cycle reduced by boosting muscle recruitment, leading to an improvement in both muscular speed and power, and thereby developing your rate of force when you contract your muscles.
• The increase in muscular speed and power also leads to an increase in strength because you’re training the fast-twitch muscle fibers which are the largest and strongest fibers in the body.
You can read more about the benefits here, but there are plenty of reasons why plyometrics serves to better the body and can be an effective training method for just about anyone, so long as you use proper form and take all of the precautions you can towards avoiding injuries.
Hopefully, with this list of exercises, you find new workouts to implement into your routine, and start seeing that increase in your vertical.
There are various other exercises you can use, but these eight are very good plyometric exercises, and incorporating at least one into your routine can make a drastic change to your ability to jump.