It's a fitness bragging right, but all athletes benefit from adding to their vertical.
These days, nobody 'exercises.' It's all about training like an athlete—and that’s resulted in sports moves making their way into the gym. Case in point: the vertical jump, which has long been used by exercise physiologists to measure an athlete’s lower-body strength and power. Jumping high can obviously boost your basketball game, but the benefits go beyond the court. “Improving your starting power and reactivity will lead to an increase in your jumping ability,” says Matt Delaney, a Tier 4 health coach at Equinox New York’s Columbus Circle location. Those are key abilities whether you’re running a race or returning a serve.
Reaching a brag-worthy height requires more than just strong quads. “Extending straight up off the ground also takes explosive hip extension,” says Delaney. “You need to generate enough force to move your body weight upward.” Moves that boost your lower body strength and power—like the six that Delaney demonstrates here—will help you catch more air.
These exercises are not meant to be completed as a set; rather, incorporate some into your regular routine. One way to do it: Add the deadlift and split lunge to your usual legs or strength plan; and when you perform a power training block, include the other four exercises. You’ll need a barbell, a pair of dumbbells, a low box or step, and a high box.
(1) Deadlift: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a barbell with arms extended and palms facing thighs. Keep back flat as you bend knees slightly, push butt back, and lower bar toward the floor (bar should stay close to your legs the entire time). Reverse the motion to rise up to starting position and repeat.
(2) Single-Leg Split Lunge: Hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms extended at sides and palms facing you. Stand with left forefoot on a box or step and right foot on the floor a stride’s length in front of it. Keep torso straight as you bend your knees, lowering left knee toward the floor. Rise up to starting position and repeat. Switch sides to complete set.
(3) Hang Clean: Stand with feel slightly wider than shoulders and hold a barbell with hands shoulder-width apart and arms extended, palms facing your thighs. Keep back flat as you bend knees slightly, push butt back, and lower bar toward the floor (bar should stay close to your legs the entire time); in one quick motion, extend your hips and pull your elbows toward the sky, forcefully lifting the barbell toward shoulders and dropping into a squat underneath it. Keep barbell on shoulders as you rise up, then slowly lower bar to starting position.
(4) Single-Arm Snatch: Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulders and hold a dumbbell in right hand, arms extended at your sides. Push hips back and bend knees as you lower the dumbbell between your legs, then immediately extend the hips as you drive your elbow vertically pulling the weight up, keeping it close to the body and catching it over head. Reverse the motion to immediately go into the next rep. Switch sides to complete set.
(5) Step-Down Jump: Stand on a low box or step. Step off of the box onto the floor, landing with soft knees and absorbing the force as you reach arms behind you and immediately jump straight up, extending arms overhead. Return to starting position and repeat.
(6) Seated Box Jump: Start seated, facing a high box with feet shoulder-width apart, thighs parallel to the floor and hands in front of your face. Explode up and forward from a seated position, landing on top of the box. Step down to starting position and repeat.