5 Killer Workouts to Increase your Vertical Jump [A Basketball Necessity]

The vertical jump is a great way to determine explosive power and overall athleticism when playing basketball.

The ability to have a significant vertical jump is a huge aspect to mastering basketball in the higher divisions.

Most importantly though, it’s a crucial aspect to making layups – and especially, dunking.

Of course it’s not going to happen over night, and it’s not going to improve upon your jump shots. You’ll need to set yourself legitimate goals.

The first goal is usually touching the middle of the net.

Second, touching the rim – and eventually grabbing the rim.

Third, being able to dunk a tennis ball or volleyball.

Fourth, being able to dunk a basketball.

And finally – acrobatic dunks (if you really want).

In this guide, we break down 5 Killer Workouts to Improve your Vertical Jump, setting a strong foundation that will one day allow you to dunk.

Why Can’t I Dunk?

The main reason that your vertical leap may be lacking comes down to the overall power that your legs can create, and the ability to use that strength quickly to generate a high leap.

This can be down to issues such as

  • Weak calves
  • Weak quads
  • Weak core
  • Poor technique

Figure out what’s letting you down, and focus intently on it to begin with.

This can be done through either strength training, or plyometric training. Read on to find out more about both.

Workout #1 Calf Raises

A great way to start to work on your calves is doing a large number of calf raises.

Calf raises is a fantastic way to bulk up your calf, and doesn’t need equipment to get going.

Rumour has it that infamous dunker Shaquille O’Neill did 1,000 calf raises every day before he went to bed.

Might seem crazy?

Well he ended up being one of the greatest centres to ever play the game – and known for his insane dunks.

The fact that this relies on body weight means that it is one of the best workouts that you can do anywhere, anytime. Obviously you can add weight to it if you really want to – it’s not necessary though.

Work on your calf raises until you think they’re strong enough to match your thighs.

Workout #2 Deadlifts

Training your vertical jump needs serious strength – the foundation to any jump.

Unless you’re super tall and don’t really need to jump high to reach the rim, you’re going to need every ounce of strength to jump high.

Deadlifts are a great exercise, extremely consistent with regards to the range of motion. It’s also hard to take shortcuts when done right.

This can give you the reassurance that every time you lift, you’re working on all the relevant muscles. Just keep the correct form.

Further, the hamstrings and glutes get a serious workout when deadlifting – both important muscles to build up strength in your lower body.

This is a necessary workout for building strength.

Want to Learn more about Deadlifts? Check out Men’s Fitness here


Workout #3 Back Squats

You knew this was coming.

Probably the most referred to workout to build leg and glute strength.

This, alongside deadlifts, are probably the main two strength training workouts that you need (combined with plyometrics) to get to your ideal goal.

When squats are done properly, and are done to proper depth, they’re a mean workout that will really get your legs burning.

The ideal goal is to squat to 1.5x your body weight. Don’t expect to do this on your first try though.

Build up to it… or risk injury.

Workout #4 Box Jumps

You can be building all the strength in the world – but unless you know how to explosively use it, your vertical jump will always be limited.

This is where plyometric training becomes important.

Box jumps are a great way to actively train explosive power, but also training your fast twitch muscle fibers which are fundamental to improving your vertical jump.

This can be done with either a box, stairs, or something you can jump on.

Stairs are a great way to actively measure your improvement over time. Count the stairs you clear when you start, and try your best to improve on that number as you feel more confident.

But really, anything will work for a box jump.

A guide by MensHealth provides a great introduction to box jumps.

Workout #5 Vertical Jump Bible

Okay. This isn’t exactly a workout.

But if you’re serious about improving your vertical leap, then you need to understand the science and muscles behind it all.

Enter the Vertical Jump Bible.

If you’ve heard of it before, then you will already know how successful it is in getting people to improve on their vertical leap.

If you haven’t heard of it before – pretty much it’s an extremely detailed guide which outlines all things to do with vertical jumps.

The science, strength training, plyometric training… what you need to do to actively train correctly.

Best of all, it’s free. No need to sign up. No need to disable ad-blocker.

You can find it all over Reddit as well.

The direct link is here. (.pdf format)


Vertical jumps are an absolute necessary for any baller who wants to take basketball seriously.

Whilst dunking is a nifty trait to have, it’s not the be all and end all for vertical jumps.

Strength, explosiveness and height all play a factor in defensive and offensive rebounds, layups – really anything to do with jumping.

If you want to take your game to the next level, these 5 Killer Workouts to Improve your Vertical Jump are a sure way to fire you to greater heights.


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