Q:

What's the best exercise to improve my vertical?

What's the best exercise to increase my vertical?
The Editors
Santa Fe, NM

A:

Start by adding jumping drills to your workouts twice a week using the schedule below. You'll begin with drop squats and progress to more challenging movements once you're comfortable with the technique.

The more technically difficult jumps pose greater challenges to your hips, knees, and torso, so become proficient before progressing in order to get the most benefit and reduce your risk for injury. You may feel like you've honed your mechanics after a few workouts or several weeks. So move at your own pace, but always focus on form.

Week 1-2 - Exercises: Drop Squat, Off Box Stabilization, Squat Jump - on-countermovement
Week 3-4 - Exercises: Off Box Stabilization, Squat Jump - Non-countermovement, Box Blast - Non-countermovement
Week 5-6 - Exercises: Box Blast - Non-countermovement, Squat Jump with Countermovement, Drop Squat to Jump and Stabilize

EXERCISE DETAILS

1. Drop Squat
How to: Stand tall with your arms bent and your forearms pointing straight up. Rapidly drop down into a squat by bending your knees, pushing your hips back and down, and throwing your elbows back behind you. Start with 1 set of 5 reps. Watch this video to see how it's done.
Coaching Tip: Allow your feet to lift slightly off the floor as you squat.

2. Off Box Stabilization
How to: Stand on a box with your arms at your sides and your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Step off the box and land with your hips back and down, and arms pulled straight behind you. Repeat for a set of 5. Check out how to do it here.
Coaching Tip: Anticipate the ground and land softly with your chest up and hips back.

3. Squat Jump – Non-countermovement
How to: Stand tall with your hands behind your head and feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Drop your hips back and down into a squat position. Next, jump straight up, pulling your toes toward your shins in mid-air. Land in the squat position and pause. Stand and repeat the move for 1-2 sets of 5 reps. Watch this video for an example.
Coaching Tip: Land softly with your chest up and hips back. Stabilize yourself and reset before each repetition.

4. Box Blast – Non-countermovement
How to: Stand with one foot flat on a box and your elbows cocked back and bent to 90 degrees. Jump straight up, exploding through your front leg and swinging your arms up. Land softly with the same foot on the box. Do 1-2 sets of 5 reps with each leg. Watch this video to see how to do it.
Coaching Tip: Think about moving through your hips and knees at the same time as you jump and land.

5. Squat Jump with Countermovement
How to: This move is similar to its non-countermovement counterpart. Stand tall with your arms bent in front of you. Squat back and down while drawing your arms behind you, and then immediately jump straight up, extending through your hips and swinging your arms forward. Land softly in a squat position, stand, and repeat the move. Perform 1-2 sets of 5 reps. Watch this video to see how.
Coaching Tip: Push your weight through the arches of your feet to explode up.

6. Drop Squat to Jump and Stabilize
How to: Begin by performing a drop squat (see above). Once you arrive in the squat position, without pausing, immediately leap straight up. Generate force by swinging your arms forward and extending through your hips, knees, and ankles. Land softly with your knees bent, hips back, and arms straight out behind you. Continue for 1-2 sets of 5 reps. See how here.
Coaching Tip: Land in the same position as you take off, absorbing the forces through your hips.

--Craig Friedman

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