Long before Zion Williamson was a freshman phenom at Duke University, he obtained the vaunted status of social media sensation and prep school celebrity thanks in large part to his cornucopia of breathtaking slam dunks.
And two decades before Zion Williamson became the most talked about dunker in the land, Vincent Lamar Carter, an alumnus of Duke archrival UNC, was the one who was rendering jaws agape with his preternatural high jumping ability.
The common thread between both Williamson and Carter, besides their Tobacco Row basketball ties, is the sheer power and athleticism of their
So, do you want to know how to
An impressive high vertical jump is a sight to behold but is also not a feat beyond your reach.
You too can improve your vertical jumps and leaping ability. By incorporating the proper exercises and the proper techniques, you will be able to add
While I cannot promise you that you will ever possess the same above-the-rim creativity and body control that have made Vince Carter and Zion Williamson slam dunk champions, I can help you put together a game plan that will give a considerable boost to your
You may not win any dunk contests, but if you follow my advice, you will
And as Zion Williamson’s 2.2 million Instagram followers can testify: Verticality equals visibility.
One great vertical leap requires strength, flexibility, speed, and agility in many sports like basketball, for one. The following five exercises will help you to improve in all these areas of athleticism:
5 Exercises to Increase Vertical Jump
In order for an athlete to reach peak performance, they
This requires having a regular routine of stretching that will keep your muscles loose, malleable, and less susceptible to injury.
Muscle knots or “trigger points” can appear in various parts of your body and they can restrict the length of your muscle tissue. Due to this obstruction, the muscle tissue is vulnerable to becoming weak and short.
A foam roller is one solution that can be used to provide relief to a cluster of knotty muscles as can be seen in the video above.
Apply the foam roller deliberately over the affected areas to alleviate spasms. Press the roller along your outer thigh to elongate the muscle fibers. Also, make sure to massage and stretch out calves, quads, IT band, and other lower extremities.
When using a foam roller, form is the key.
Here are a few quick drills you can do with a foam roller:
- Calves: Put the roller under your calf and rest your other foot on the floor (or cross it over the top of your shin
for more pressure). Roll from your ankle to your knee.
- IT Band: Lie on your side with the roller near your hip and rest your other foot on the floor. Move the roller along your outer thigh.
Add more pressure pressure by stacking your legs on top of one another.
- Quads: Lie on your stomach with the roller placed under the front of your thigh. Roll up and down from the bottom of your hip to the top of your knee.
If you’re like most people, you have tight hip flexors because of the way our hips naturally bend and due to all the stationary and sedentary activity
Because of this, you aren’t able to get the full hip extension
The remedy is simple.
You need to strengthen your hip flexors by stretching them out for
If you compare your pre-stretch
A flexible hip flexor allows for more power storage and explosiveness in your core areas, thus results to higher jumps.
Plyometrics are exercises that emphasize explosiveness and are designed for speed, quickness, and power.
Most exercises include various stages
The goal is to move from the eccentric (vertical jump) to the concentric (
In a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, research scientist Goran Markovich states that, “The overall results of this study suggest that the [plyometric] significantly improves vertical jump height.” 
That improvement is measured while jumping with the arms overhead in a five percent to 10 percent increase (or
Plyometric training could well be recommended for healthy individuals aiming to improve not only their vertical jumping ability but also other athletic performance.
- Goran Markovich, Research Scientist
At the outset of plyometrics, your body has a tendency to create more slow-twitch muscle fibers in response to the new training stimulus. However, plyometrics gradually increase the number of fast-twitch muscle fibers in a certain muscle group.
Be patient because the effects might take time and the improvement on your vertical jumps won’t be instantaneous.
Once you decide to decrease the volume of your vertical
In concert with this scientific support,
Because the sheer force required is high and the intense pressure they can exert on the lower-extremity joints (especially the knees), plyometrics are not recommended for novice exercisers without proper supervision or coaching.
All plyometric exercises require strong ligaments and tendons and therefore should be accompanied by a proven strength routine.
Athletes of all levels of workout experience can work their way up through a progression of plyometric exercises.
Here is a list of various drills you can try relative to your experience:
- Beginner: Lateral hops, bunny hops (with or without a kettlebell), power skips, jump roping, jumping jacks
- Intermediate: Standing broad jumps, squat jacks and jumps, low on-box jump, speed ladder (lateral and linear)
Prone to box jump, knee tuck jump, depth drop, box drop crossover step, plyometric push-ups, plank walkouts, power cleans
Squats are crucial lower body exercises that
However, if the proper form and techniques are not implemented, squats can become a major hazard to your back and to your knees. Make sure to keep your feet planted on the ground
Too many sports injuries are the results of weak stabilizer muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues, which squats help to strengthen.  They help prevent injury by
Even if you're not an athlete, you'll be surprised how much
The three squat variations that help the jumping athletes — think basketball players, volleyball players, and track and field stars — most are the back squats, box squats, and front squats.
A) Back Squats
B) Box Squats
C) Front Squats
Box squats are a great exercise that teaches athletes to explode upwards once they reach the box. This gives them the power they need when preparing to launch themselves when jumping.
4. Bulgarian Split Squat
Due to the high potential for injury by novice and experienced weight trainers alike when performing traditional back squat exercises with a dumbbell, many exercise professionals have begun to espouse the Bulgarian split squat,
Mike Boyle, a strength and conditioning expert, says, “The back gets injured the most when squatting, so we train our legs for size and strength by bypassing the back.”
The Bulgarian split as can be seen in the video above is a subclass squatting exercise that incorporates more challenging joint movement.[
The body position during the Bulgarian version shifts your weight forward, increasing the range of motion and the degree of difficulty for balancing.
During this exercise, you will naturally shift more of your weight forward to the front leg. The quadriceps in your front leg serve as the primary movers, while your glutes and inner thigh muscles provide an assist.
The hamstrings and calf muscles act as stabilizers. Th
A 2014 article in the International Journal of Exercise Science concluded that the Bulgarian split squat produced similar activity and production as the back squat while putting the participants at far less risk of injury.
The bottom line is if you’re looking to increase your lower body strength as a means to improving your vertical jumping but
The same muscles that are sculpted and defined when molding a great leaper are the same ones developed by an elite sprinter.
Utilized properly, the short bursts of fierce sprints build strength and performance, springing into action multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
A well-developed sprinting routine has the dual benefit of building cardiovascular endurance while refining your fast-twitch fibers at the same time, optimizing your explosiveness during jumps.
This routine should include ladder sprinting, which is running intervals of increasing distance (between 50 to 100 yards) and then retracing your steps and working your way back down.
Incorporating hill sprints is another thing to consider. The change in terrain and the increased inclines will provide a welcomed shock and stimuli to your lower body to help ward off any signs of muscle building plateau.
Finally, inject some form of downhill sprint
On the surface, downhill running may seem pretty simplistic. However, proper mechanics are crucial to downhill running so that you can avoid the common mistakes of braking on your heels and overstriding.
Downhill running includes eccentric muscle contractions, during which muscle fibers lengthen under tension, which can help increase muscle power and make you faster since eccentric contractions are our strongest type of contraction.
- Jason Karp, Physiologist
The increased power, speed, and agility gained from these sprinting exercises over time will also be instrumental in your journey to maximize your vertical jump.
Want To Jump Higher Like an NBA Superstar?
When it comes to great leapers, a select few like Zion Williamson and Vince Carter, are born with God-given ability to soar above the masses.
But the vast majority of great jumpers weren’t designated so at birth; rather, they honed their craft through hard work, proper jumping technique, and lots of repetition.
Just as a great writer or an elite actor must work continuously to perfect the art and science of their respective disciplines, ever aspiring to refine their abilities, those who would aspire to jump high, obtain elite verticality, and touch the rim of that
If your aim is to
But if you’re looking for an expert
For those who are serious in improving those vertical jumps and possibly making a good basketball dunking career out of
You might not be able to jump as high as Darlington, but it may improve your vertical leap significantly as most of their students have achieved.
- Goran Markovic, Does plyometric training improve vertical jump height? A meta-analytical review, retrieved from https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/41/6/349
- U. Wisloff, C. Castagna, J. Helgerud, R. Jones, J. Hoff, Strong correlation of maximal squat strength with sprint performance and vertical jump height in elite soccer players, retrieved from https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/38/3/285.abstract
- 7 Benefits of Doing Squats and Variations to Try,
- Bradley Deforest, Gregory Cantrell, Brian Schillng, Muscle Activity in Single vs. Double-Leg Squats, retrieved from https://digitalcommons.wku.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=1607&context=ijes
- Mackenzie Lobby, 5 Sprint Workouts that Burn Fat and Make You Faster, retrieved from https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a19515870/quick-sprint-workouts/