Increase Your Vertical Jump 20 Different Ways 

In "Increase Your Vertical Jump - 20 Exercises" By Devon Gaines one can learn how to improve on this key athletic performance indicator. The Jump is defined as the ability to leap as high off the ground as one can from two feet. It is not necessary to take a step or two before the jump when testing the standing vertical jump. 

For those that want an easy method to test your vertical here is a technique. Stand as tall as possible side onto a wall. Mark your middle finger print with some ink that will mark the wall. Reach your inner arm as high as possible, with your palm facing the wall and mark the wall with your middle finger. Try 5 jumps. Quickly bend your knees immediately prior to your jump. These is called a 'counterbalance' movement with your legs and arms. 

Conditioning 

When we fall short of the sport's requirements for the vertical jump, what training methods and exercises should we implement for the next cycle of conditioning? Typically, an athlete will undergo a combination of resistance training strength exercises as well as plyometrics. Plyometrics are exercises whereby the jump is preceded by a countermovement. The countermovement is effective as it relies upon the stretch-shortening cycle; a process whereby the muscle stores elastic energy as it lengthens which is then released into kinetic energy as the athlete jumps. 

For the sake of this review, I will review exercises that are effective in increasing ones vertical jump. 

Warm-up Jump

This should be done before performing your strength routine, speed exercises or plyometrics. It serves not only as a warm up jump but can result in a higher jump as well. The warm up starts by you jumping into the air but by moving only at the ankle joint. Remember that whilst you are in the air, you should pull your toes towards your shins (dorsiflex the ankles) but ensure that your heels don't hit the ground on landing. This is a quite a short and sharp movement. The idea is that you spend as little time on the ground as possible. The key is to keep your knees locked by activating your quadriceps and avoid flexing your hips too much; stay in a straight line. Warm-up jumps can be done at different heights. Low jumps are performed as quickly as possible and you will jump only 2 inches off the floor. The objective of high jumps is to jump as high as possible. Try the following: low jumps - 3 sets, 30 seconds for each set, 30 seconds rest between sets. High jumps - aim for the same as the low jumps. 

Hip Flexor Stretch (Static) 

In general, it is not a great idea to perform static stretches before exercises such as the Vertical Jump or those needing maximum power output. Static stretching can activate sensory organs in the joint called Golgi Tendon Organs and this can result in an inhibitory reflex on just the muscle we want to contract. We don't want to switch off the muscles working as prime movers in the jump! There is an exception to this rule. When we jump into the air we execute a movement that is known as the triple extension, which is the extension through the hip, knee and ankle. The hip flexors cross the front of the hip joint therefore they are effectively stretched by the triple extension movement or to put it another way, in order to fully extend and raise our arms, it is beneficial if our hip flexors are flexible so our hips can extend through the required range of motion. 

If you statically stretch the hip flexors, they will turn off and will lengthen more easily during the triple extension. Now, if you are tight through your hip flexors, you should get into the habit of stretching them every day. It is not hard to tell if you are tight in either of your hip flexors. You can use a mirror for this exercise. Sit on the edge of a high bench, hold onto one knee and lie back over the bench. Try to flatten your lower back slightly to avoid over-arching the spine. Let the free leg drop. Does the knee drop lower than the top of the bench or is it tight; does it hang high? Compare the other side. Hold onto the other knee and let the free leg drop again. Does the knee drop lower than the other side - does it feel looser? 

The static stretch should be held for at least 30 seconds twice each side. Start in a lunge position with your right knee on your ground and your left foot forward as far as you can. Keep your abdominals strong but lean back slightly and raise your right hand in the air and side-bend off to the left. Really try to work deeply into the muscle. Breathe normally and the trick is to relax and lengthen the muscle as you breathe out. Now try the other side. 

Box Squat With Variable Load 

This exercise is pretty demanding on the nervous system and so you shouldn't use this exercise in your program more than once a week. The idea is that, after each set, you don't allow your nervous system to recover fully so the rest period is limited. You allow enough recovery just so that you can complete each set with the same power output; muscular endurance will also improve. The load is varied by the amount of tension on the bands attached to the bar. As you move into the squat, the band tension will increase so total load will be a product of bar load plus tension in the band. The band tension will be at its greatest at the top of the squat; it will have lowest tension at the bottom of the squat. This basically requires the squatter to exert more effort as they ascend the squat. In other words, the squatter needs to accelerate in order to work the load concentrically. The squat is performed by creating a shoulder width stance with the feet; the toes should be turned out slightly. 

Push the hips back as you lower into the squat but keep the chest as high as possible. You should breathe in as you lower into the eccentric part of the movement and breathe out when you are nearly at the top of the squat. It can be beneficial to vary the speed or tempo of the eccentric (lowering) part of the movement. Exercise tempos can be split into 3 numbers *-*-*. The first number indicates the duration of the lowering portion of the exercise. The second refers to the 'pause'. The third number tells us how many seconds the upward or concentric action shoulder last for. X indicates move as fast as possible! Try these three different tempos. Tempo 1: 2-1-X, Tempo 2: 1-1-X, Tempo 3: X-1-X. An athlete should be experienced with squatting and practiced well for before trying this exercise. Aim for 1 or 2 reps per set. You could try multiple sets, perhaps 10-15 sets. Allow 1 minute rest between sets. 

Gluteal Hamstring Raise (floor) 

The Glute-Ham raise strengthens the knee flexors, spinal extensors and hip extensors. You can perform this exercise solo from the floor with or without an anchor such as a barbell with plates over the top of the ankles. You can also ask a partner to hold your ankles so they do not lift off the floor. It is essential not to bend from the hip; don't allow the hips to flex too much during the lower (eccentric) part of the exercise. Knee flexion happens to be a very important component of the jump so this is a very effective exercise. 

To complete the exercise, start in kneeling and lock your ankle joint. Keep the gluteals fired up, keep the chest up and start slightly tilted forward. Lower your hips and the whole of the upper body down toward the ground softly, just enough to tap the ground. You may use your hands to push lightly onto the ground if you need help back up. The lowering part of the exercise is what you should focus on; use good pelvic control. Try 10 reps for each set. You should attempt at least 3 sets with 1 minute between each set. 

Reverse Hyperextensions 

The apparatus used for Reverse Hyperextensions is a genius design. There is no other exercise out there that conditions the gluteals, hamstrings and lower spinal erectors quite like this one. Your position on the hyperextension table has to be correct in order to allow the pelvis to move freely. The aim is to maintain a lumbar curvature so the erector spinae muscles stay 'statically' contracted and are then able to 'stablize' your body during the movement. In order to complete the exercise, lie face down with  your torso and waist on the bench and hold onto the handles. 

Tuck your chin in as this helps to avoid neck strain. The feet should be dangling but not touching the floor and your legs should be straight. Raise the legs, whilst keeping them straight and squeeze your buttocks at the top. Remember that curvature in the spine as you lower the legs to the floor. You may place a sandbag or weighted ball between the feet. Aim for 10 reps and complete 3 sets. 

Weighted Swissball Crunch

You cannot forget about your "core" muscles. The rectus abdominus is one of the muscles of the core that flexes our spine and makes up the pillar the connects upper body movement to lower body movement. Any exercise involving a sequence of total body movements will require a strong core. We must be careful, however to avoid 'over-flexing' the spine especially when the core is loaded in any way. According to back specialists, flexion of the spine can put huge amounts of pressure on our spinal discs that is unnecessary for conditioning; little flexion movement is needed to accomplish the functional strength we need in the abdominal flexors. 

The Weighted Swissball Crunch is a perfect exercise for establishing just the right amount of bend in the spine for the rectus abdominus to get a good workout. Plus, the commonly under-used and weak neck flexors will need to get involved. Lie face-up over a Swissball so your lumbar spine is supported by the apex of the curve in the ball. Anchor your feet and try to keep your knee and hip joint fixed. Position your hands by your head and allow the head tilt back slightly. 

Initially, tuck your chin in to activate your deep neck flexors. Then roll your upper back off the ball slowly without rounding your shoulders (the distance between your breastbone and pelvis should shorten). This is the important part: raise up until all the abdominal muscles are fully contracted but do not roll up beyond this point. 

You'll find your chest will end up just a little above an imaginary horizontal line and you should feel a great deal of shaking in the abs! Roll back down the ball. 

The Swissball is a great piece of kit because it will support your lower back. Try 3 sets of 10 reps. If you can achieve 10 reps easily, add weight in 5 pound increments. Hold the weight at the top of your chest. You may feel safer anchoring the feet under a bar or have a partner hold your feet but try to push the feet to the floor as you crunch! 

Listed here are just 5 of the 20 exercises that can get you going towards a better game. Get the rest of the exercises by purchasing "Increase Your Vertical Jump - 20 Exercises by Devon Gaines," today. 

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