If you’ve learned anything about vertical jump training by now, it should be that strength training alone won’t improve your jump. To jump higher, you’ve got to recruit your fast-twitch muscle fibers. I’ve talked about fast twitch muscle fibers here before. In recap, they are the strands of protein in your muscles which can recoil VERY quickly. The secret to jumping high is being able to put a lot of force into the ground quickly. Fast twitch muscle fibers allow you do to this. When we talk about explosive power, it is all about those fast twitch muscle fibers!
Unfortunately, most traditional training programs are designed to exercise your slow twitch muscle fibers. There is a logic behind this: fast twitch muscle fibers use a lot more energy than slow twitch fibers. If you do anything which requires endurance, you won’t want to engage the fast twitch fibers because you will tire quicker. But, if you want explosive energy (like when going for a dunk), then you better train your fast twitch fibers. Here are some exercises which will help you do just that.
These are great for jump training because they work the fast twitch muscle fibers in your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. They also help you improve your hips’ range of motion. Squat jacks have the added benefit of making your butt look awesome, which is why they are popular with chicks.
Yes, broad jumps can improve your vertical jump! These are great for getting more explosiveness into your jump. Do them by starting in a squat, jumping as hard as you can, and landing in the squatting position again. Start slowly to make sure you get the range of motion right before you put all your energy into it!
You need cardio to be a good basketball player. But don’t make the mistake of running around the track at the same consistent speed all the time. You’ve got to do some serious sprinting too in which you really push your body to its limits. For extra points, do “butt kickers” while sprinting (when you raise your legs back so they almost hit your butt). Remember to take breaks between sprints! You don’t want to overexert your muscles.
Squats at Higher Loads
Squats are the ultimate exercise for strengthening the muscles you need for jumping. Many jumpers make the mistake of doing squats at a medium load for longer reps. That is fine if you want to bulk up and improve strength, but we want to improve our ability to apply strength quickly! So, instead do squats at much higher loads but only for reps of about 3-5. Take a break between each rep so you don’t destroy your muscle fibers.
Box Depth Jumps
Instead of doing what all those Crossfit guys do and jump onto a box from the ground, you want to jump off of a box. Start on a box. Then jump off of it to the ground, landing on both feet. Immediately jump up onto another box. The extra starting distance from the ground means that your legs have to absorb more force, and thus have more force to exert when jumping. Increase the height of the boxes after you get comfortable.