Exercises Can Strengthen
Your Legs And Improve Your Vertical
I first became interested in jumping exercises when I started playing
basketball in High School. I wasn't very athletic to begin with and my
vertical was non-existant. Typical white guy. For me to jump over a
foul line was tough. I remember in practice one time we were performing
some kind of jumping / conditioning drill. My coach observed me and my
pathetic vertical and assumed I wasn't working very hard. The truth is
I was. Jumping a few centimeters at the time was simply the best I
The Art and
Science of Jumping
explains this? Why is it that some people (like me at the time) have a
tough time getting off the ground, whereas others can seemingly soar
through the air? What's more if you were not born with natural jumping
ability is there a way to improve it? I didn't have the answers at the
time but I was determined to find out. After all who doesn't want to
soar through the air and dunk a basketball like Dr. J or Michael
All Muscle is not
I read a lot on the subject and here's what I learned. All of us
possess muscles that help move our body. However did you know that not
all of our muscles are the same? That there are different types of
muscles? You can in fact break down the different muscle types in many
different categories. For our purposes related to jumping exercises we
only need to worry about two: Fast Twitch Muscle Fibers and Slow Twitch.
Slow Twitch muscle fibers are, well, slow. They tend to lack any kind
of explosive nature. However they do possess a great deal of endurance.
Slow Twitch muscle fibers are slow and steady. People who run marathons
typically have a higher proportion of slow twitch muscle fibers than
most people and it serves them well. If you want to jump - not so much.
Fast Twitch muscle fibers are, as you might think, extremely fast and
explosive. When you perform activities like running or throwing a
baseball you are using fast twitch muscles. People who can jump or
sprint fast tend to have a higher percentage of fast twitch muscle
fibers in their bodies. The only negative is that fast twitch muscles
will tire out much more quickly than the slow twitch variety.
and Dark Meat
Think of a chicken. The breast meat, which is used to flap the winds,
is white. The reason it is white and sweeter to the taste is due to the
presence of a sugar like substance called glycogen. The glycogen is
required in order for the wings to beat rapidly. The leg muscles which
are used for walking, much more of an endurance activity, are dark.
These are slow twitch muscles and do not require the presence of
The Science of
OK. So what do you do if you want to jump high but you're not blessed
with a high percentage of fast twitch muscle fibers? Well, as it turns
out there is a bit of a miracle cure. They are a series of jumping
exercises based on the science of plyometrics.
Tricking Slow Twitch Fibers
to act like Fast Twitch
were originally developed by the Soviets/East Germans (when the USSR
and East Germany were still around) to allow their athletes to perform
better in events requiring speed and / or jumping ability. It is based
on the principle that if a muscle is stretched prior to firing the
subsequent contraction will be more rapid and more powerful.
Essentially it tricks the slow twitch fibers to behave more like their
fast twitch cousins. Done correctly it can be extremely effective. One
of the most popular jumping exercises to use this technique is called
"depth jumping". This is how you do it.
Stand on a stable box or platform about 5 inches off the ground. Now
with all of your might jump upwards and a little bit forwards so that
you clear the box. When you hit the ground (5 inches deeper then where
you started) jump again with all of your might. Step backwards back
onto the box and repeat this process between 300 to 500 times.
It Worked for Me
This is one of the simplest jumping exercises there is, but it's quite
effective. I used to do them in the back yard every night. By doing
them my legs became much more explosive. They also become much sleeker
in appearance. I was never able to honestly dunk a basketball, but my
vertical did improve markedly. I could stand under the basket and touch
the rim at least. This is a huge improvement for someone who couldn't
jump over the foul line before.
If you are interested in jumping
that improve your vertical
leap you will definitely want to try the exercise above. If you are
interested in trying more advanced exercises based on plyometrics you
will want to try out Luke
Lowrey's Jump Training Program
. I haven't
tried it myself (my basketball playing days are in the past now) but
I've heard great things about it. Luke is actually willing to pay you
$100 cash if it doesn't help you! He obviously has confidence in his
program and I know he's helped a lot of people. Check it out today.