Extreme jumping exercises -- also called plyometrics -- are some of the best elements you can add to your fitness routine to improve your vertical jumping speed. Plyometrics are intense jumping exercises that require your muscles to contract eccentrically against the gravitational force pushing down on your body. The higher you jump, the harder your muscles have to work against the gravitational force. The result is more explosive power and speed. In sports like basketball, plyometric training is recommended to help players reach extreme jumping heights. The American Council on Exercise states that plyometric training can "help lead to improvements in vertical jump performance, leg strength, muscle power, acceleration, balance and overall agility."
Things You'll Need
- Bowl of water
- Plyometrics box (optional)
Set your baseline first with a jump test. To improve your jumping, you have to first know how high you can jump before you start training. To perform the jump test, make sure to wear cushioned, protective sneakers. Wet your fingers in a bowl of water and stand face-to-face with a wall. Reach up with your wet fingers and touch the highest part of the wall you can reach without going up onto your toes. Immediately step back one step and jump up in the air as high as you can. Touch the highest part of the wall that you can reach, leaving a mark. Using a ruler, measure the distance between your first mark and the second mark. This will show you your initial jumping height. As you continue with plyometrics training, be sure to measure and note your progress.
Perform plyometric bodyweight exercises two times per week, leaving at least two full days in between training sessions so your muscles have time to recuperate. Plyometric exercises include jump squats, jump and switch lunges, bounding, single-leg hops, double-leg hops, frog jumps and single-leg squats and are usually performed in a set interval, working your muscles until they fatigue. For example, in a typical plyometrics training session, you might choose three to five jumping exercises and perform each exercise as many time as you can in 30-second intervals. Once you've completed each exercise once, start from the beginning and perform up to three sets.
Incorporate plyometrics box training into your fitness routine. Plyometrics box training exercises are usually performed on a specific piece of exercise equipment called a plyometrics box, but you could substitute a bench, stool, step or aerobics stepper. The American Council on Exercise recommends performing box exercises on a soft surface, like a padded gym floor or grass, to minimize injury if you do happen to fall during an exercise. To perform box exercises, position the box to a height that is low enough for you to jump on, but still offers a challenge. Stand directly in front of the box and explosively jump on to the box. Immediately turn around and jump off the box. Repeat as many box jumps as you can in a 30-second period, working your way up to three sets.
Tips & Warnings
- Before every plyometrics training session, be sure to warm up your muscles first with five to 10 minutes of light aerobic activity, like jumping jacks or jogging in place. After your workout is finished, cool down your muscles with five minutes of light activity and a series of full-body stretches.
- Extreme plyometric jumping exercises are high intensity and high impact and are not for everyone. If you're healthy and physically fit, practice plyometric exercises with caution and always wear cushioned sneakers to help protect your joints from the shock of impact. Do not practice plyometric exercises without your doctor's permission if you have arthritis, joint pain, heart disease or another chronic disease; if you have had recent surgery; or if you are obese.
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