Exercises To Jump Higher 2023: 6 Exercises & Tips To Help You
Jumping is an important component of many sports like: basketball, soccer, football, and volleyball. Being able to jump higher could give you the advantage over your opponents. On the other hand, some of you may only want to improve jump performance for personal satisfaction.
Regardless of why you want to jump higher, the main idea is to strengthen and condition the jump specific muscle groups, and practice your jump movement pattern.
For this reason, we have covered:
- What muscles do you use for jumping?
- How to measure your vertical jump
- 6 exercises to jump higher
- Tips to help you jump higher
- When to talk with a coach or fitness professional
Exercises To Jump Higher
- Barbell Back Squat
- Barbell Deadlift
- Box Jump
- Single leg squat with jump
- Pause Jumps
- Jump Squats
What Muscles Do You Use For Jumping?
While jumping, 4 main muscle groups come into action. We have broken down each individual muscle below.
The calves are made up of three small lower leg muscles. These muscles perform two main movements. The first movement is dorsi-flex, which is where you would point the toes upwards. The second movement is plantar-flex, which is pressing the front foot against the ground. These movement actions are important to start a jump. All three muscles have been mentioned below.
- Gastrocnemius (Back of lower leg)
- Soleus (Outer lower leg)
- Tibialis anterior (Front of lower leg)
The quadriceps are four small string-like upper thigh muscles that are responsible for extending at the knee joint, or formally known as straightening the lower leg. The second part of a Jumps draws this movement. Each quadricep muscle has been highlighted below.
- Vastus lateralis (Upper thigh)
- Vastus medialis (Inner thigh)
- Vastus intermedius (Middle thigh)
- Rectus femoris (Deep middle thigh)
The glutes are the buttocks muscle groups. The glute muscles are important for a variety of hip joint movements. During jumping, one of the most important muscles is the glute max, which extends the hip joint during the thirst part of the jump. This movement is also known as straightening the hip. The three glute muscles have been labeled below.
- Gluteus medius (Hip muscle)
- Gluteus maximus (Buttocks)
- Gluteus minimus (Deep hip muscle)
There are many muscles in the back. We are interested in the lower erector spinae muscles as it helps to extend the lower back while jumping, just before swinging the arms forward.
- Erector spinae
How To Measure Your Vertical Jump
There are many ways to measure your vertical jump height. We have included a basic 6 step process.
- Stand besides a wall on a hard flat surface, giving yourself enough space to perform a vertical jump (Preferably outdoors)
- Wrap the tip of the middle finger of your dominant hand with double sided tape that is loose enough to come off and stick onto the wall
- Stand on the ground and stick the tape on the wall to identify your standing reach height
- Put a new piece of tape around the finger and perform a vertical jump and slam the sticky tape on the wall
- Repeat this process 3 times with 1 minute rest in between each jump
- Using a metal measuring tape, record the length from the standing reach height to each vertical jump, then divide the recordings by 3.
Additional Information: An example of this could be that your standing reach height is 40” and your vertical jump height may be 65”. You would deduct the jump height from the standing reach height giving you your vertical jump (65”-40”=25”).
6 Exercises To Jump Higher
There are many lower body exercises that you could use for vertical jump training. We have discussed 6 exercises that may help.
Barbell Back Squat
The barbell back squat and the vertical jump share similar mechanics. Both use the triple extension of the lower body. To be specific, the movements draw into a squat position, followed by pushing the feet off the ground (plantar flexion), straightening at the knees (extension) the hips (extension), and then the lower back (extension).
The difference is that the barbell squat may place more stress on the working muscles, whereas the vertical jump takes the body off the ground.
During the barbell squat, you are essentially balancing a barbell on the upper back with the feet shoulder width apart, this is followed by squatting downwards and then standing back up with explosive power.
The barbell squat is great because it overloads and activates the exact muscle cells that would be used in the vertical jump. This includes: the calf muscles, quadriceps, glutes and lower back. Over the long term, these muscle groups could get bigger, stronger and more conditioned for vertical jumping.
Secondly, the barbell back squat may improve the movement pattern of the vertical jump due to drawing the same chain of movements (ankle, knee, hip).
A 2016 study from the Journal of strength and conditioning research, looked at the effects of 8-weeks of barbell squat training on vertical jump performance. The researchers found that barbell squat training twice per week improved vertical jump performance by 12.5%.
As a general rule of thumb, I recommended barbell squatting at 65-100% intensity within a rep range of 1-14. In terms of sets, I like to keep it between 3-5. If you are also using other exercises, squatting once or twice per week could work well.
The barbell deadlift is another lower body exercise that uses similar muscle groups and movement patterns to the vertical jump. The difference is that an individual would position the feet hip width, then lift a loaded barbell off the ground with simultaneous and explosive extension of the lower body (jump motion). In turn, this may add more stimulus to the jump specific muscles, which could condition them over time.
Another 2015 study from the Journal of strength and conditioning research, looked at the effects of 10-weeks of barbell deadlift training on vertical jump power and performance. The participants were novices who performed deadlift training twice per week.
At the end of the study, the participants who used the barbell deadlift went from 18.8% to 49% torque. Vertical jump height also improved by 7.4%, which give or take is a 3.4cm difference.
The intensity, reps, sets, and frequency of the barbell deadlift would be the same as the general recommendations I gave for the barbell squat.
Without a doubt, jumping exercises like the box jump are identical to the vertical jump in motion. One difference that I can highlight is that you are landing on a box, which practices coordination. To do the box jump, you would set up some boxes that you are physically capable of jumping on top of.
You then do a vertical jump with the arms forward. Then you land softly on top of the boxes on the balls of your feet with the knees slightly bent. This will help condition the achilles tendon, which are crucial for jumping. Overall, the box jump is a great way to make jump height goals and improve jump efficiency and power. Like most bodyweight exercises, I recommend reps to failure with 3-4 sets per exercise.
Single-Leg Squat With Jump
This exercise is basically the normal squat, but places all of the tension on one leg at a time and requires jumping straight after squatting upwards. As this exercise is performed on one leg, it may improve core stability and balance, which can then translate into a more effective vertical jump performance. For most people, I suggest reps to failure with 3-4 sets, making sure that you alternate between legs.
The pause jump can be used in times where you want to work and build on the jump muscles alone, with lower tendon activation. Why so? During the pause jump you are not using the downward momentum and then bouncing up by hitting the tendons of the lower body, like the vertical jump.
This is not to say that you should not work on the tendons, but this exercise can be used when you want to emphasize the lower body muscles as much as possible.
To get into the starting position, squat down and pause with the knees bent and hands close to the hips. Jump up, while swinging the arms forward. With the pause jump, I normally recommend reps to failure with 3-4 sets.
During jump squats, following the vertical jump, you would sprawl back into a squatted position. This would increase the level of tension on the jump specific muscles, which may then condition them for a more impressive vertical jump over the long term. Generally, I would suggest reps to failure with 3-4 sets.
Tips To Help You Jump Higher
Observe Proper Nutrition
Eating a healthy amount of carbohydrates can help fuel your high intensity workouts and improve athletic performance. Carbohydrates are eaten, digested and converted into chains of glucose that make glycogen. Glycogen is stored in the muscle, liver and brain to be used as energy for exercise and activity.
Without getting into detail, during exercise, glucose is broken down through three mechanisms. What you need to know is that each gram of glucose yields around 38 ATP energy molecules, thus highlighting the importance of observing a carbohydrate rich diet.
It is difficult to give a general recommendation of carbohydrates, because it will entirely depend on your individual activity level. This could be anywhere from 3-8g of carbohydrates per kilogram of bodyweight.
So the biggest takeaway would be to include high carbohydrate foods into your diet, if you are not already doing so. This could include: rice, pasta, breads, fruits etc.
Secondly, another macronutrient that holds importance is dietary protein. Protein is made up of 9 essential amino acids, which can activate muscle protein synthesis (muscle building), which can support the growth and repair of the jump specific muscles over the long term.
Once again, general recommendations are very difficult to give, but for someone who is trying to increase muscle size and strength around their jump specific muscles, we could aim for 1.2-1.7g per kilogram of body weight. This amount of protein tends to help basketball players improve running and jumping performance.
To get an idea of high protein food sources, you could consume: whey, egg, milk, chicken, beef, fish, soy etc.
Improve Jump Technique
You should focus on proper jumping technique to ensure that you tap into all of the jump based muscles and tendons. This could maximize your jump performance, while reducing the risk of injury from using proper body mechanics.
For a proper vertical jump, try placing the feet hip-shoulder width apart and shifting your body weight onto the heels. This would be followed by bending at the knees and hips, then tilting the torso forwards, while pulling the arms behind the body.
With maximal exertion, press the balls of the feet against the ground, then extend at the knees, hips and lower back. Last but not least, swing the arms forwards while taking off the ground. Remember that in real time this movement would be done rapidly without any pauses
To maximize your jump performance, you must turn up to all of your workouts and training sessions. This can speed up the process of building the jump specific muscles and perfecting your movement pattern.
When To Talk With A Coach Or Fitness Professional
Coaches and fitness professionals can be an asset rather than a necessity to your fitness journey. I would suggest talking to a fitness professional if you are begging and do not have any understanding of exercise and fitness. A fitness professional will be able to guide and teach you about the basics.
The second instance where you may want to talk to a fitness professional would be if you have hit a fitness plateau. This means that you have improved so much that you are finding it difficult to get any better.
All in all, we have learnt that there are 4 main muscle groups of the lower body that are used while jumping.
To improve jump height, you must strengthen the muscles and the jumping movement pattern, which can be done so by using the 6 exercises that we have mentioned.
We must not forget to observe good nutrition to fuel our exercise sessions, as well as help build the muscles. Other tips include, jumping with proper technique and not missing a workout.
The only time I would suggest reaching out to a coach or fitness professional, would be if you are a total newbie or you have hit some jump plateaus, thereby you could get some guidance on what to do next.
Last but not least, for those who want to do some before and after testing on your jump height, you could use the simple tape and wall method that we mentioned in the article.
Frequently Asked Questions
It is difficult to say, but with the two studies that we mentioned, barbell squats improve jump height by 12.5%, whereas the deadlift only improved it by 7.4%.
The whole lower body, but if i had to highlight one it would be the quadriceps.
+ 5 sources
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- Wirth, K., Hartmann, H., Sander, A., Mickel, C., Szilvas, E. and Keiner, M. (2016). The Impact of Back Squat and Leg-Press Exercises on Maximal Strength and Speed-Strength Parameters. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, [online] 30(5), pp.1205–1212. doi:https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0000000000001228.
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- European Journal of Sport Science. (2023). Dietary Habits and Fluid Intake of a Group of Elite Spanish Basketball Players: A Need for Professional Advice? [online] Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17461390400074204.