Daft Punk got it wrong.
“Harder, better, faster, stronger”? What about “higher”? For serious basketball players, that height is all that matters.
Dunking a basketball like the greats is the dream of children everywhere. Let’s be honest, it’s still a dream for most of us as adults.
But as we get older, we reckon with our physical limitations and temper those dreams.
Not so fast. You may not be able to train your way to dunking status, but you can still improve on your natural abilities.
And who knows, maybe those improvements will lead to dunking as long as
you don’t use that as your absolute benchmark for success!
No matter what, you can improve your game by learning to jump higher, and we can show you how to jump higher. Follow along as we introduce you to a few fundamental exercises and tips that can boost you on your jumping journey.
- How to Jump Higher in Basketball to Dunk
- 1. Work on Your Deadlift
- 2. Practice Your Jump Squat
- 3. Box Jumps, Box Jumps, Box Jumps
- 4. Use a Weighted Medicine Ball
- 5. Modify Your Back Squats
- 6. Just Jump Some Rope
- 7. Raise Those Toes
- 8. Travel to the Four Corners
- 9. Slow Motion for Me
- 10. Don’t Forget to Practice With a Ball
- Measure Your Vertical Jump
- Which Muscles Must a Man (or Woman) Work to Dunk?
- Higher and Higher
- Related Posts:
How to Jump Higher in Basketball to Dunk
Enough with the preparation and anatomy lessons. Let’s get down to the real work. Not all of these essentials are exercises. Some of them are just pointers to remember while you work out.
Nonetheless, they’re all key components of a workout that will lead you to your maximum height on the court.
Let’s get started.
Measure Your Vertical Jump
You will never know if you’re jumping higher after you implement your plan if you don’t know how high you could jump in the first place. Thus, the first step in this process is measuring your jump. Measuring your jump will give you a concrete marker of progress.
This can keep your head up when you get discouraged and are tempted to give up halfway through. Keep your numbers handy to see how far you’ve come. Heck, you can even brag to your friends and post on social media.
Any strategy that keeps you jumping forward works for us! Here are the things (and people) you’ll need to help you measure your jump.
- A friend to observe and mark your reach
- A ladder for your friend to use when making their marks
- A permanent marker, chalk, or some other marking instrument that will leave a lasting enough mark to measure
Once you have gathered your resources, here are the steps to measuring your vertical jump.
Which Muscles Must a Man (or Woman) Work to Dunk?
Now that you have a starting point, it’s time to get down to business. And if jumping higher is your business, that makes your muscles your employees.
So which of these employees do you have to train to make a profit? i.e. jump as high as you possibly can Okay, we’ll admit we tortured that metaphor a bit, but you don’t have to torture your muscles to build the strength you need to increase your vertical jump.
It’s more important to train smart than to train hard 24/7. And if you know the muscles you need to work, you can train efficiently and effectively. Here are the most important body parts involved in helping us jump higher.
Hamstrings and Glutes
These key leg and butt muscles work together to extend your hips. Hip extension is essential to a high vertical jump.
Some of the best exercises to strengthen your glutes and hamstrings are Romanian deadlifts, trap bar deadlifts, and squats. But we’ll talk about specific exercises a little later.
When doing exercises for your hamstrings and glutes, the most effective way to work is to do heavier sets of five to eight reps at a time.
Low Back and Core
You can’t get away from the importance of the core. Every trainer you see talks about it. Training your core seemed like a fad, but it hasn’t gone away.
That’s because it’s no fad. Your core, including your low back, is the source of your stability. You need stability when you jump if you’re not going to topple over like a bowling pin.
With more stability, you will also be able to move more weight in your jumps. And you can move that weight–we’re talking about your body–higher.
If you have a strong core, you’ll keep your hips and torso more upright. That means you’ll get more power off the ground when you jump.
Slow, controlled reps are the key to building strength in your core. You should aim for 10 to 15 per set. Speed is rarely the most important factor in strength-building, and you’ll see us talk about slowing things down later on.
Low Back and Core
Of course, you will work out both your legs when aiming to increase your vertical jump. But the truth is, many of our jumps come off just one foot. Increasing unilateral strength will give you power in these moments and keep you from constantly having to think, “Use both feet.”
Developing greater single-leg strength improves your coordination and balance, both of which contribute to more height in your jumps.
When working out your legs, you can split the difference between hammies/glutes and core/low back in terms of weights and reps. Moderate weights at eight to 12 reps per set should do.
Yes, we know knees aren’t muscles. But the reason we include them is they connect the muscles in your thighs with your calves, and these muscles need to work in concert to provide you the maximum power and hip extension.
Even though they didn’t make our list this time, if you perfect exercises like knee jumps, you’ll go a long way toward improving your leaps. And you can do them in sets of four. No sweat, right?
Higher and Higher
No matter your current level of physical ability, it is possible to learn how to jump higher. All you have to do is be consistent and smart in your training. Just jumping and jumping as fast as possible in every workout is not the way forward.
At this point, you’ve got enough knowledge to begin. Check your form and get feedback along the way, and you’re golden, even if you never play for Golden State.
If you’re looking to hone other skills, check out some of our other guides. And if you’re ready to suit up, don’t forget the right basketball shoes.