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Jumping Higher: A Guide

Do you want to jump higher?

Increasing your vertical is going to be a lot of hard work but if you are dedicated it will be rewarding. For example, during your strength training, it will be easier to lose excess fat as you are burning calories in the gym. Also, the more mobility and strength, the better your technique is going to be.

Increasing vertical falls into four distinct categories of improvement: strength training, weight loss, mobility, and technique.

These categories of improvement intertwine with one another, improving at one category may help another category.

For example, during your strength training, it will be easier to lose excess fat as you are burning calories in the gym. Also, the more mobility and strength, the better your technique is going to be.

1. Strength Training

Typically this involves both weight training and calisthenics and bodyweight movements.

An example of a weight training exercise for vertical is the squat. The squat is a compound exercise that works both the core and the legs, particularly the quad muscles.

Despite popular belief the calf muscles are not as important as the quads as it pertains to jumping. If you want to make sure your hip abductors and core are hit effectively, it’s recommended to do front squats and hit maximum depth.

The first of the four categories of improvement is strength training. 

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exercises for core and abs

For calisthenics, you want to focus mainly to target your core. The exercise would include leg raise variations. Other weight training exercises that hit leg muscles, the squat, does not necessarily prioritize is the hamstring. This weakness can be fulfilled by implementing the Nordic hamstring curls. Start by using assistance with your hands and resistance bands and work your way up to no assistance.

nordic hamstring curl demonstration

2. Weight Loss, Vert Gain

This category relates to exercise, but more relates to your diet.

If you are overweight or over 20 percent body fat, it is a necessity to lose that excess weight by implementing a calorie deficit. This means at least doing some rough estimated calorie counting of your daily intake.

For example, let’s say you intake about 3000 calories a day, decreasing to 2800 calories for a couple of weeks will show fat loss results. Lower your intake 100-200 calories every couple weeks. The key is to gradually decrease your daily calorie intake until you are at an optimum body fat percentage. Being below 15 percent is optimal. But improvement post 15 percent body fat can only help you further in increasing your vertical.

It is also important to note that while decreasing your calories, you should keep a baseline of nutrition by eating food that provide nutritional value.

Giannis low body fat

Remember to also do what is manageable. When it comes to diet, it can be hard to set goals too fast, as you may break them. Avoid binge eating and losing your progress. However, because you are just focusing on calorie deficit, it is possible to eat certain ‘unhealthy’ foods every once in a while. The calorie deficit protocol is not asking to be completely disciplined and strict. 

Why focus on weight loss?

Well, it’s holding you back from jumping your highest. Imagine if you can lose 20 or 30 pounds, that would be huge for increasing your vertical jump. Imagine I gave you a 20 pound weight vest to jump with. It would completely inhibit your ability to jump. Fat and an excessive amounts of it does not give you any explosive or speed benefits, and is useless for jumping.

3. Mobility: Stretching the limits

When referring to mobility and its improvement, it really boils down to getting your body to move in places it used to be uncomfortable in. This helps increase your vertical by allowing your body to be in better positions to torque explosiveness and speed. It also is useful for preventing injury.

Why is injury prevention important?

It can really set you back on your vertical journeys progress. Injuries can be prevented. If you are not stretching and gaining more mobility, injury is inevitable instead of preventable. 

stretches for hip mobility

A couple of stretches to focus on are hip related and leg related.  They range from leg grabs for quad stretching, toe touches for hamstring stretching, and pigeon pose for hip flexor stretching.

You want to make these stretches dynamic as well. Make sure to stretch while your muscles are warm and have just been used. Cold stretching has shown to progress mobility minimally. 

4. Don't sweat the technique

demonstrative to two foot approach

Technique is related to your approach to jumping. There are a multiplicity of jumps relating to vertical leap. These include standing jumps, one foot approaches, and two foot approaches.

The form involved for typical standing jumps involves a slight knee bend, but for the others it is a little more complex to master. Take the one foot approach, which requires extreme ankle and tibialis strength. The two foot approach also requires extreme finesse through the penultimate step. 

One Foot Approach

To maximize technique for the one foot jump, speed needs to be optimized and the conversion into vertical. You should practice running as fast as you can while maintaining control. To convert speed to vertical increase, the most effective way in doing so is utilizing a ball swing off of the hip.

Two Foot Approach

To maximize the two foot jump, the approach should be gradually increasing speed. Finally, the penultimate step, or final step should be an explosive and powerful push. This is before the one-two breakdown of the left and right foot or vice versa. The images should give you a basic idea of what I am referencing.

demonstrative approach of one foot jump

Final thoughts

To fulfill your potential and increase your vertical jump, optimize your strength and explosiveness through weight training. Be sure to also get lighter through fat loss and diet. Learn to move more effectively through mobility training. Lastly, perfect your jumping technique.

If you can optimize these key components, you will see increases in your vertical results. Patience and consistency is required. This journey is a long process, but if you stick with it, results will show.

Reverse dunk

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