An ideal 12-week, vertical-leap training program should contain multiple elements that include plyometrics and strength training for muscle growth, cardio for improved fitness and consistent vertical-jump testing to measure improvement. By the end of 12 weeks, you should see a noticeable improvement in your jumping height, but if you'd like to improve your leaping height beyond 12 weeks, simply start the training program over again from the beginning.
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Vertical-Leap Training Programs
Two of the best ways to improve your vertical leap are plyometrics training and traditional strength training. Plyometric training teaches your muscles to stretch and then contract eccentrically, which can help to build explosive power and improve vertical-leaping height. Strength training builds the strong leg and core muscles necessary to propel your body upward. To see results in your vertical-jumping height, perform strength-training and plyometrics exercises two days per week for 12 weeks. Strength-training and plyometrics training sessions can be stacked on the same day if desired. Leave at least two full days in between training sessions to encourage muscle recuperation. On your off-days, schedule three or four cardio sessions to improve your cardiovascular fitness, as well as flexibility-training exercises.
Testing Your Baseline
Before you embark on a 12-week program to improve your vertical leap, spend a few minutes testing your baseline vertical leap. A simple way to test your jumping height requires a ruler and a bowl of water. Wet your fingers and stand face-to-face with a wall. Reach up with your wet fingers and touch the highest part of the wall that you can reach without raising up onto your toes. Immediately take one step away from the wall and jump as high as you can, touching the wall with your wet fingers at the highest point of your jump. You can brace yourself before the jump, but don't take a running start. Measure the distance between the first finger print and the second print to find out your baseline vertical leaping distance. Be sure to test your distance once a week for the entire 12-week training period to track your improvement.
Sample Plyometric Exercises
Plyometric-training exercises are roughly split into two categories: jumps and box jumps. The jumps category includes exercises like jump squats, tuck jumps, one-leg hops, double-leg hops, frog jumps and bounding. Box jumps require an adjustable plyometrics box or a sturdy bench, stool or exercise step. Set the box to a height that you can jump on that is still challenging. Explosively jump on the box and immediately turn around and jump down. Perform a circuit of four to six plyometric exercises, including jumps and box jumps, and perform as many repetitions as you can for each exercise in 30-second intervals. Start off with one full circuit, working your way up to three circuits as your fitness level improves.
Strength training to improve vertical jumping height includes bodyweight-conditioning exercise and weighted exercises. Perform bodyweight exercises that target your lower-body muscles, including your calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes and core muscles. Some recommended exercises include wall squats, lunges, planks, bicycle crunches, reverse crunches and calf raises. Supplement your strength-training sessions with a weight-machine circuit targeting your lower body, including leg presses, adductor and abductor presses, weighted squats at the Smith machine, calf presses and leg extensions. Perform up to 15 repetitions for each exercise, working your muscles until they fatigue. If your muscles are not tired after 15 reps, increase the weight. Start with one set, working your way up to three sets as your fitness level improves.