An athlete’s vertical jump provides information to trainers and coaches about the athlete’s overall abilities, power, and likeliness of being successful in the sport. A high vertical jump is essential in almost all types of sports and can improve an athlete’s abilities more than what is often realized. This is why the vertical jump is often measured by trainers and coaches during tryouts and continuously throughout training.
So, what is the best way to improve your vertical jump? Think about the muscles needed behind the jump. From a standing point, perform a vertical jump and feel which muscles in your body work the hardest. Obviously, the power will mostly come from your legs, but more specifically, it comes from your hamstrings, quads, and glutes. These are the muscles to focus on when improving your vertical jump.
How do we build up these muscles? The most effective way to work and build your hamstrings, quads, and glutes is through different variations of squats. Squats must be done correctly to show improvement, but are very effective in increasing the height of vertical jumps. Make sure to perform the proper technique for every squat to ensure that they will be effective and to prevent injury. Improper squats will work the wrong muscles and strain other important muscles in your body.
The Science Behind Squats
Studies have shown that deep squats improve vertical jump height and increase the force behind the jump itself. A study in 2012 used different variations of squats to test the effect they had on vertical jumps. The results showed that deep squats improved the height of the vertical jumps, while partial squats showed no improvements at all. Therefore, it is important to focus on ensuring your squat is deep and your muscles are being pushed to their maximum potential.
It is highly important to know how to perform a basic squat accurately. Many athletes perform squats improperly, which leads to injury and does not provide improvement. To work the correct muscles, the proper basic squat must first be achieved.
Begin with your posture. Stand with your back straight and shoulders and head back. Find something straight ahead of you and keep your eyes and head directed towards that object during the entire movement. Position your feet hip-width at a 45-degree angle outwards. Now lower yourself as if there is an invisible chair behind you. Do not let your knees bow in or out. Keep them straight over your feet, but do not let them fall forward past your feet. You want the majority of the weight to be in your heels. Do not allow your back bend or your shoulders to curve in. Continue to keep your gaze straight ahead or slightly higher. Push up through your glutes and feel the muscles work all the way through the squat and lift.
Pay attention to the muscles in your body. You should feel your thighs and glutes working the hardest, but you will also feel intensity in your calves and abs. Take the squat as deep as you can to reach your maximum potential.
Weighted Basic Squat
Once you have mastered the basic squat, you should add some resistance. Adding weights to a squat will show great improvement and be much more beneficial than the basic squat on its own. Weights can be added using a bar weight or hand weights.
When using a bar weight, step up to the bar so that it is resting on your shoulders. Place your hands evenly on either side of your head where you find it most comfortable. When using hand weights, simply bring the weights to your shoulders.
Once you are comfortable and ready, perform the squat. Be especially careful to not allow your knees to bow in or out. It is important for them to remain straight to avoid injury.
A pistol squat, which is similar to a one-legged squat, takes some practice and dedication to achieve, but will give amazing results. A pistol squat is different from a one-legged squat because the extra leg, or the leg not squatting, must be positioned straight out in front of your hip.
While this position may look very difficult, it can be achieved with practice. The best way to start working towards the goal of a complete pistol squat is to perform the pistol squat while holding something for balance. One of the most difficult aspects of this squat is balance, and it is okay to get used to the position first by using a wall or chair. Eventually, you will gain enough strength, agility, and balance to perform the pistol squat without help.
The jump squat is a great exercise that combines cardio and strength. It is recommended to do with exercise without weights, as jumping with weights can be dangerous and even the best athletes may easily become injured. This exercise is basically performing a vertical jump combined with a deep squat several times in a row.
Bend down into a squat and use the power from your glutes to explode back into the air, jumping in the process. When your feet land, immediately fall into another squat and repeat the process. You may also squat, hold, and then jump to make your muscles burn at the bottom of the squat. Most athletes perform a set of 10 jump squats.
Vertical jumps are important in any sport. They are also utilized for those who exercise for a hobby because they improve strength and agility. Every aspect of your exercise program should be focused on making improvements to yourself and taking some time within your program to focus on improving your vertical jump will give you more success in your sport.
Squats are the most efficient and successful exercise to increase your vertical jump height. Focus on gaining the deepest squat possible and ensure that you are performing the squat correctly. Remember that rushing through squats and not paying attention to your form could result in injury. Take your time and practice a proper squat before continuing on to other variations. However, do not settle with the basic squat for too long. Include the variations in your exercise program to achieve the best results.