Leaping to score or rebound in basketball, catch a pass in football or reach a header in soccer all require getting air time. There are many gym-based resistance exercises that can help you gain those vital few extra inches of vertical lift. Top strength and conditioning coach Ian Mellis, MSc,, CSCS, agrees, "At its simplest, the stronger you are, the faster you’ll run and the higher you’ll jump. Get strong with powerful explosive movements, and the effects will be even more pronounced."
Before beginning to incorporate these explosive exercises in your training routine, you need to make sure you are reasonably strong and fit. Train for at least three months, three-times-per-week, performing regular strength training moves like squats and dead-lifts.
For the following exercises, a reasonably light load should be used to facilitate a fast, explosive lift. You should perform two sets of eight reps with ninety-second recoveries.
The power clean is the ultimate all-over power-developing lift and a complex movement that will require coaching if you’re not familiar with it. Use a barbell and position yourself as if performing a dead lift. Simultaneously drive explosively with your legs and pull hard upward with your arms. Sink under the bar and with a secondary leg drive, catch the bar and finish in a front squat position.
The single-arm snatch is a safer and easier-to-master version of the classic Olympic snatch lift. Using a single dumbbell, start in a squat position with the weight held near to the floor in front of you. In one fast explosive movement, initiated from your legs, power the dumbbell up to a straight-arm overhead finish.
For the push press, start in a front squat position with a barbell positioned on the top of your chest. Straighten your legs as explosively as possible and, using the momentum generated, finish by lifting the weight overhead as if you've performed a standing shoulder press. For this and all the other exercises, a slow and controlled return to the start position is essential. Pause for a moment and then explode dynamically into the lift.
Perform the squat jump by holding a pair of dumbbells by your side. Squat down to a 90-degree knee bend and then leap explosively into the air. Land with soft knees and compress straight back down into the start position. Make sure you are set and stable with a strong back position before leaping again.