How To Increase Vertical Jump and Jump Higher to Dunk

If you’re a basketball player, at some point in your career you’ve probably tried different ways on how to increase vertical jump.

It may be because you wanted to jump higher to dunk or just be able to sky over your opponents during the game. If you ask well known trainers, they will tell you that there are many ways to jump higher with some more effective than others.

For anyone who has always wondered how they could add inches to their jump, below is a list of 5 different ways you can get this done.


How To Jump Higher in 5 Simple Ways

#1 Strength Training

When it comes to increasing your vertical leap, among the best ways is using strength training. Jumping is a byproduct of the power of the lower body. And by strengthening the leg muscles along with the posterior chain muscles, an athlete is able to push themselves with more force off the ground.

According the a study done by United States Olympic Committee, vertical jump height is strongly correlated with weightlifting ability.

The tests were supervised by USA national coaches where athletes were made to perform a variety of jumps and their results were compared to the weights they lifted during training.

The key to strength training however is to know which exercises to use, and how to put them together in an effective workout.

If it were just lifting weights, then the bodybuilders and powerlifters would be among the highest jumpers in the world. But that isn’t the case.

Strength Training 1However, their Olympic lifting counterparts, do have a very good reputation of being able to jump very high off the ground.

So which exercises to jump higher?

A good place to start are these 4 exercises below. Each of them trains a different aspect but they’re all effective and play a role in improving the leg strength needed to explode off the ground.

  • Squat – the back squat has been scientifically proven to increase vertical leap. It focuses on building leg pushing power focusing most of the work on the quads.
  • Power clean – these are one of the exercises that make Olympic lifters such great jumpers. Unlike traditional weightlifting, power cleans require very fast, explosive movements. They work the hips, legs and back and arms all in one split second powerful motion.
  • Trap bar deadlift from 4 inch box – the special trap bar apparatus allows lifters to lift with their hands on their sides instead of in front which is what’s needed with a regular bar. The takes stress away from the back and makes it easier to keep your form even when using heavy loads. This exercise works both the quads and the posterior chain, giving the hamstrings and glutes a good workout.
  • Train with single leg exercises – most heavy load exercises are bilateral, but by training with unilateral (single limb) leg exercises you are able to work each side individually building up muscles that aren’t worked when both legs are used together.

There are more though…

See our article here for more exercises for improving vertical jumping ability.


#2 Use Plyometrics Exercises and Training

Plyometrics are often used in conjunction with weight training because research has shown that a weight training routine complemented by plyometric drills increases the gains seen with jump training. You can however, perform them alone without weight training.

plyometric jumpsPlyometrics are used to “shock” the muscles. During jump training a lot of the exercises will involve… you guessed it jumping.

However, different types of plyometric techniques are used for various purposes with some to improve power and rate of force development, and others to improve strength.

Because of their effectiveness, plyometrics have become a part of most jump training programs and workouts.

Four effective plyometric exercises for improving one’s vertical include:

  • The 1 leg step up jump
  • Lateral cone jumps
  • Knee Tuck Jumps
  • Depth Jumps

See our list of the best plyometric exercises for jumping higher here.


#3 Lose Body Fat and Strengthen Your Core

If you see a fat guy and a fit guy side by side and guessed who could jump higher. Who’d you guess?

If you guessed the fit guy, you’re probably right.

We say probably because every once in a while there’s that exception to the rule. One such exception is Charles Barkley who even when he got himself fat to avoid getting drafted by the Sixers still could jump up like a pogo stick.

weighted_crunchesCutting body fat helps you improve jumping ability by getting rid of the extra weight your legs have to push. Balancing between losing fat and getting too thin is also important. Being too lean and not having any muscle mass may also mean there won’t be enough muscle to provide the pushing power.

Apart from losing fat, training the core, which are the abdominal muscles and the lower back muscles are essential if you want to improve your jump height.

Our core connects our upper body with our legs. A strong core allows the extra energy and power developed by the upper body along with the arm swing momentum to transfer more efficiently to the lower body.


#4 Fix your Jumping Technique

Proper training and lots of jumping may improve your vertical. But if you have poor jumping technique you won’t be able to fully maximize your ability.

It has been shown that fixing jump technique can add as much as 3 to 6 inches to jumping ability without having to change anything else.

jump techniqueWhile the basic concept of jumping is similar for all types of jumps, there are differences when you jump off 1 leg or 2 legs. In the same way you recruit different muscles and use different form when you try to jump up to height and when you jump forward for distance.

Some of the things to look at in your technique include:

  • Your approach to the jump, and the final step
  • The countermovement which involves using your arm swing to develop momentum
  • Your take off


#5 Proper Recovery and Rest

rest and-recoveryOne common misconception about sports and training is that they guy who trains the most will get the best results.

This is why getting the proper amount of rest and recovery is actually one of the ways to jump higher.

The problem with this thinking is that the body and its muscles can only take so much time working out. After that it needs to rest in order to repair the muscles. That’s the only way that the muscles build to get stronger.

The irony of training is that the gains, be it muscle growth or increased jumping strength, comes when you are resting and the body is recovering and not when you’re sweating it out in the gym training.

For this reason, the best jump training programs include sufficient rest periods between workout sessions.

When using plyometrics it is even more important to give the body enough hours between workout days in order not to put too much stress on the tendons and ligaments.

This is one reason why slapping together all the best weight training exercises and plyometric drills together training very hard doesn’t produce as much gains as a well programmed jump training program.