Jumping Skills Hacks
Having a high vertical leap is one of the best ways to quantify your physical abilities. This is true for athletes and people who just want to improve their overall fitness level, as well.
The key to jumping higher and farther is instilling more strength into your body, consistently training for explosive movements, and maintaining proper jump mechanics.
Whether you play sports such as basketball or volleyball, or just want to add some variation to your fitness routine, this jump training tutorial is sure to improve your athletic performance.
My discipline of choice is parkour and free-running and as an instructor, I’ve helped people improve their jumping ability using this exact same method.
You can jump higher. There’s no need to get fancy. You just need more power and proper technique. Factors like your genetics, or your age, or weight aren’t as important as you might think.
Bottom line – you don’t need to train like a superstar athlete to have superstar jumping ability. Let me drop some basic physics on you:
Let’s work through that equation backwards. Velocity is the speed at which an object travels in a single direction. In your case, that would be up.
Now, force can get complicated, but in its simplest form it’s the interaction that takes place when your muscles push you off the ground. It’s your strength.
When you produce more force quickly, you will improve your jumping ability, literally by leaps and bounds.
Jump Higher and Farther
Now, this jump training tutorial focuses on improving your jumping skill. Jumping is not just a workout after-thought here that’s used to boost your cardio or conditioning. So, it’s important to approach this as a skill-building process.
This workout routine contains both weightlifting, body weight and plyometric exercises. Lifting weights will build your strength and plyometrics will enhance your explosiveness – the velocity at which you can produce more power for jumping.
If you’re just starting out with weight lifting, then I’d suggest taking a look at our Body Building Basics.
This will give you a solid foundation. To learn more about the science behind plyometrics, check out these 7 Plyometric Exercises For Strength and Power!
3 ft. plyometric box
1 ft. plyometric box
Weighted vest (optional)
The posterior chain is the series of muscles that run from your calves up through your hamstring group and glutes to the latissimus dorsi muscles of your back.
These are your primary jumping muscles. The coordinated movement of the posterior chain causes you to leap to new heights.
- Soleus and Gastrocnemius
- Hamstring group
- Gluteus Maximus
- External obliques
- Latissimus dorsi
Warming-Up for Jump Training
First, you should warm up the body by doing some walking lunges. Give yourself plenty of space to move. Now, place your hands on your hips or you can hold them out at your sides for added balance.
Step out with your lead foot and be sure to land heel first and then press down through your toes. To do otherwise will risk injuring your knee.
Your lead knee should line up directly above your lead toe. Dip down until your back knee almost touches the floor. The deeper you lunge, the more you target the jumping muscles.
Now, raise your body and step out again with the alternate leg. Do about 8 to 12 steps.
Rest for about 2 minutes.
Convert the lunging step into a jumper’s stretch by twisting the abdomen as you dip down. As you lunge forward with the left foot, twist your upper body to the left. When you lunge forward with the right foot, twist your upper body to the right. Do another 8 to 12 repetitions of the modified lunge with a twist.
Rest for about 2 minutes.
The lunge by itself is one of the best dynamic stretches, but when you add some resistance, you turn it into a jump magnifier. Grab two medium-weight dumbbells, one in each hand with palms facing your outer thighs.
Now, perform the lunge just like before. Do 8 to 12 repetitions of the dumbbell walking lunge.
Jump Rope for Jumping Higher
Jumping rope is one of my favorite exercises because it’s so universal. There are so many benefits. The steady rhythm improves your coordination, it gets your heart rate up, and it stiffens the tendons in your legs so that you’re ready for explosive movements.
So, for this program, you’re going to jump rope in place for 2 minutes. That might not seem like a lot of time, but you’ll be looking for the clock about half way through the set. Afterwards, rest for 2 minutes. Then, do one more set.
A Bit of Martial Arts Training
The next exercise borrows a bit from my martial arts training. The jumping scissor kick is an explosive movement that requires speed, power and coordination.
Start by placing your hands on your hips with your legs staggered a bit like the walking lunge. Now, bend slightly at the knees and jump as high as you can without losing your form.
At the height of your jump – scissor your legs back and forth. If your left leg is in the lead position, scissor your right leg forward and then back to the rear for landing. It’s a quick scissor-like movement, not a kick. Do 8 to 12 repetitions with your left leg forward.
Then, alternate your right leg forward and do another 8 to 12 repetitions. Be sure to rest in-between sets.
If this exercise isn’t challenging enough with just your bodyweight, then you can do more scissor kicks in-between jumps.
I can get four in before I start to lose my form. You can also employ a weighted vest for this exercise to increase the amount of resistance, but I wouldn’t recommend trying this exercise with dumbbells, kettlebells or barbells.
Build Your Power with Squats
You might already be familiar with Smith machine squats or barbell squats, but for jumping higher, you should stick with medium weight dumbbells and the jumping squat.
Doing jumping squats with dumbbells adds resistance while forcing you to employ a greater level of muscular control and coordination.
Start by holding two medium weight dumbbells, one in each hand. Hold them down at your side, but maintain a tight grip and control at all times. Keep your back straight and your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
Bend at the knees, lean your upper body slightly forward and leap straight up into the air. Straighten your legs at the height of the jump.
Be sure to land on the balls of your feet first and then the heels. Bend the knees when you land to absorb the impact. Do 8 to 12 repetitions. Rest for 2 minutes and then follow up with a second set of the same.
If you’re feeling stiffness, pain, or you’re losing your form during the jumping squat you’re probably using weights that are too heavy for your body.
Scale down the weights and use a lighter load until your jumping squats feel more comfortable. You can also use a weighted vest for this exercise in place of the dumbbells.
Some people use a heavy kettlebell held between the legs for this exercise, but dumbbells are independent weights that require more control and coordination.
Plyometric Box Jumping
Now, it’s time to move onto box jumps and plyometrics. Your goal is to expend a massive amount of energy in a short amount of time to build up your power and reflexive speed. What is reflexive speed?
It’s your ability to coordinate explosive movements like the ones you need for sprinting, jumping and changing direction. It’s great for athletes who play field sports like football and soccer.
Place a 3ft steady block in front of you and a 1ft steady block slightly behind your position. Four to five feet of space is adequate. When doing box jumps, make sure the boxes are heavy enough so that they won’t slide around on the floor. You can also fasten them to the floor with bungee straps or Velcro for added stability.
Now, stand facing the smaller box. Bend slightly at the knees, lean forward and rotate your arms back along the length of your back.
Push your arms forward and jump off both feet with the aim of landing softly onto the 1ft. box. Land as softly as you can, using the balls of your feet and not the heels. Keep your eyes and chest upright.
Now, leap backwards down to the floor and as soon as the balls of your feet touch the floor, reposition and leap onto the box again. This is a quick motion and you should spend no more than .15 seconds on the floor. Perform 15 to 20 repetitions.
Without taking a rest, stand on the smaller block with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart and your knees bent. Face toward the larger box this time. Jump down from the 1ft box to the floor, landing on the balls of your feet.
Bend your body slightly into a squatting position and leap over to the 3ft box. This is called a depth jump. Don’t jump backwards to rest the exercise. You could injure your Achilles heel.
Instead, you can place another block on the side or put your hand down to assist you in getting off the high block. Try to do the depth jump as fast and as safely as you can. 15 to 20 repetitions would be the ideal range for improving your jumping ability.
Rest for a full 2 minutes and then repeat this entire plyometric circuit again.
Improving Your Jump Mechanics
Jumping is one of the most basic forms of human locomotion, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t know how to properly jump.
Good technique will help you jump higher and minimize your chance of injury. If you can put what you’ve gained in the weight room with some proper jump mechanics, you’ll be surprised at how much your vertical leap has improved.
To get the most height and/or distance out of your jump, it requires the coordination of your entire body, not just the legs. There are four phases to a good jump.
There’s initiation, contracting, flexing, and then landing. During the initiation phase, be sure to swing your arms backwards, hinge at the hips, and tighten your core as you bend the knees.
When you jump, think about the full range of motion and your entire body’s movement. Open the upper body by flexing the shoulders and swinging your arms forward. Fully extend your hips and knees. Keep your chin upward.
You can also use a camera to record yourself jumping in order to correct any inconsistencies in your form and technique.
Final Thoughts and Recommendations
There is no magic bullet to jumping higher. It depends on several factors such as practice, technique and the amount of strength you gain from resistance training. However, this is a way to accelerate your development. You must be consistent to see real results.
In my experience, you should perform this workout routine twice a week with at least one day between workouts for rest and recovery. Then, you should take a third training day to workout in your particular discipline.
If you do parkour, then go for a run session. If you play basketball, keep playing pick-up games once a week. When you’re training to improve your power and jumping mechanics, you don’t have to wait to see results. You can start implementing what you’ve gained immediately.