One question I get on a regular basis (especially on the basketball court) is how to increase your vertical.
Now if I had to guess what my standing vertical was, considering an 8 foot reach and the ability to standing dunk a basketball (most days), I’d say somewhere in the range of 30″. I specifically train my jumping abilities at speed, which is why my vertical is 10-20 inches lower than the best in the world.
However, if you give me an approach, I can get my body over 7’2″, which is far more impressive. To achieve a higher vertical, 3 main areas need to be worked on:
- Plyometrics/jump training
- Specific weight lifting
- Power to weight ratio
As a high jumper, I am very familiar with plyometrics. Wikipedia defines them as “exercises in which muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time, with the goal of increasing power (speed-strength)”
As you could imagine, this is incredibly important for increasing vertical. As such, there is a lot of plyometrics added into my workouts on a regular basis. If I wanted to learn to dunk, my training would consist of 3 plyometrics exercises.
Box jump: The most simple, straight forward of the drills. Jump as high as you can onto a box. Play around with raising the height of the box, and taking a run up to it as you would with a dunk. Remember you are trying to move FAST!
Single Leg Takeoffs: This one is best demonstrated with a video. Note how quickly he gets off the ground. And keep in mind that you don’t need hurdles to do this drill.
*Note: He holds the world record for the highest high jump over his head. Don’t feel bad…
Dunking on a lowered net: This one is incredibly important. You can monitor your improvement as the dunks become easier, while working on the technique and footing required to dunk at a high height. Practice off of one foot and two.
Another key component of producing vertical force is explosive strength. Basically, the faster and easier you can lift your body weight, the higher you will go. However, we aren’t talking about a 400 pound squat or 600 pound leg press. The most important lifts for jumping are the clean and snatch. These are both explosive lifts, where the goal is to move the weight fast. These are quite complicated lifts, so lets start with the clean.
Here is a video I found on YouTube explaining how to do the lift. Watch one or two of these to get the basics down! And don’t forget to send me a video of yourself doing it if you need help.
Power to Weight Ratio
In essence, a jump comes from the acceleration of your body off the ground. The more force that can be applied (thanks to your weight lifting and plyometrics), the higher you will jump!
However, there is another factor that we haven’t discussed yet. And here is where we arrive at body composition. The lower your body fat percentage is, the less excess weight your legs have to explode into the air. Less weight = a higher jump, so get on that paleo diet, track your calories (there’s an app for that) and crush some serious veggies!
Spud Webb won the NBA dunk comp at 5’7″. You have no excuse not to be able to dunk! Time to get to work