Use Weight Training to Increase Vertical Jump

Girl is jumping on box
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The ability to jump high is a critical skill not only in basketball and volleyball but also in sports including rugby, Australian football, soccer, and many others. Even diving comes to mind, and then there's leaping up to catch the baseball that's about to go over the fence—and of course track and field events.

What Makes a Good Vertical Jumper?

Research has shown certain key components that help you become better at jumping. To jump well, you need a good "spring," which means powerful muscles with explosive type muscle fibers and the ability to shorten and stretch them dynamically. Upper body strength is also important for creating upward momentum.

If your muscles are mainly slow-twitch instead of fast-twitch muscles, you will not be a champion jumper. But you can still maximize your jump height with training.

To maximize your jump, you need strength and power, and along with strength, you will probably need to optimize the muscle you carry. However, there might be a trade-off in vertical jump performance against mobility, speed, and agility. Large muscles and great strength don't necessarily make a great jumper or a great athlete. And there is no advantage to jumping like Deanna Nolan or LeBron James and having poor court skills.

Train to Build Jumping Power

The end-point of training for vertical jump proficiency and most other athletic performance standards is the execution of power. Power is a product of strength and speed of execution.

3-Step Training

Here are the three phases of training leading up to the optimization of power.

In conjunction with the above, a program of plyometric exercises like tuck jumps, bounds, leaps, and box jumps can complement weight training. Some of these you can do in the gym, while others require running at a park, court, or athletic venue.

Best Exercises for Vertical Jumping Ability

On each exercise, it is important to keep the weight light enough to enable explosiveness, but heavy enough to stimulate adaptation. The best exercises to help you jump better are:

Another option is jump squats. These are done like normal squats—of any sort—except that on standing, you push off vertically and jump up about 6 to 8 inches. Don't try to go too high, as the impact and landing could cause injury.

Dumbbells held at the side or barbell at the hang are excellent for this exercise as they provide a good balance. You don't need very heavy weights with jump squats—enough to burden your jumps, but light enough so that you can explode upward.

A Word From Verywell

Of course, you need to practice, practice, practice actual vertical jumps to a hoop, net or whatever your activity requires, and remember that weight training is a facilitating activity for most sports. Don't overdo it.

4 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Murach K, Raue U, Wilkerson B, et al. Single muscle fiber gene expression with run taperPLoS One. 2014;9(9):e108547. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0108547

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By Paul Rogers
Paul Rogers is a personal trainer with experience in a wide range of sports, including track, triathlon, marathon, hockey, tennis, and baseball.