Bodyweight

Plyometric Bodyweight Routines to Increase Your Vertical Leap

Monday we identified some basketball workouts that will improve your game with bodyweight exercises. We covered the basics. Stamina and Strength. The core of your basketball workout routine for being unstoppable on the basketball court.

Today we are going to look further into how your body works to get you into the air for those stunning and intimidating jump shots and slam dunks.

Gravity is handy most of the time. It’s what makes bodyweight exercises effective. It keeps your feet on the ground, and that’s what we want to overcome when jumping.

Let’s explore how you can increase your vertical leap.

First I want to introduce a new term, Plyometrics. At first I thought this was another name for bendy yard sticks, but I was wrong.

“Plyometrics (also known as “plyos”) is a type of exercise training designed to produce fast, powerful movements, and improve the functions of the nervous system, generally for the purpose of improving performance in sports. Plyometric movements, in which a muscle is loaded and then contracted in rapid sequence, use the strength, elasticity and innervation of muscle and surrounding tissues to jump higher, run faster, throw farther, or hit harder, depending on the desired training goal. Plyometrics is used to increase the speed or force of muscular contractions, providing explosiveness for a variety of sport-specific activities.” – Wikipedia

Thus, for improving your vertical leap, that is exactly what we are going to do…

Not all plyometric exercises are the same in intensity. Skipping exercises for example, are relatively light while single leg bounds and depth jumps are the most intense. Your program should progress gradually from lower intensity drills to more advanced plyometric exercises particularly if you have less strength training experience. Remember, these are impact and stress intensive exercises and caution should be used when doing them. If you have any doubts about your understanding of the exercise movements or proper form, pay a visit to a personal trainer you trust to make sure you don’t hurt yourself.

The Exercises

The Exercises

Image Credit: Stack.com

Low-Impact

Squat Jumps

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, trunk leaning slightly forward with your back straight and in a neutral position.
  2. Arms should be in the “ready” position with elbows bent at about 90 degrees.
  3. Lower your body until your thighs are parallel to ground and immediately explode upwards vertically and drive arms up. Do not hold a squat position before jumping up keep the time between dipping down and jumping up to a minimum.
  4. Land on both feet. Rest for 1-2 seconds and repeat
  5. Prior to takeoff extend the ankles to their maximum range (point your toes to your shins) to ensure proper mechanics.

Jump to Box

  1. Stand facing box with feet just wider than hip-width apart.
  2. Lower your body into a half-squat position and immediately jump up onto box. Do not hold a squat position before jumping up keep the time between dipping down and jumping up to a minimum.
  3. Feet should land softly on box. Step back down (do not jump back down) and repeat.

Lateral Jump to Box

  1. Stand side on to box with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
  2. Lower body into a half-squat position and jump up onto box. Do not hold a squat position before jumping up keep the time between dipping down and jumping up to a minimum.
  3. Feet should land softly on box. Step back down (do not jump back down) to the opposite side of the box and repeat.

Medium Impact

Split Squat Jumps

  1. Stand with feet hip width apart. Take left leg and step back approximately 2 feet standing on the ball of back foot.
  2. Feet should be positioned at a staggered stance with head and back erect and straight in a neutral position.
  3. Lower body by bending at right hip and knee until thigh is parallel to floor then immediately explode vertically.
  4. Switch feet in the air so that the back foot lands forward and vice versa.
  5. Prior to takeoff extend the ankles to their maximum range (full plantar flexion) ensure proper mechanics.

Tuck Jumps

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, with arms at sides.
  2. Jump up bringing knees up to chest.
  3. Land on balls of feet and repeat immediately.
  4. Remember to reduce ground contact time by landing soft on feet and springing into air.

Lateral Box Push Offs

  1. Stand to side of box and place the left foot on top of box.
  2. Push off the box using the left leg only and explode vertically as high as possible. Drive the arms forward and up for maximum height.
  3. Land with right foot on the box and left foot on the ground to the other side of the box.
  4. Repeat from this side.

Bounding

  1. Jog into the start of the drill for forward momentum.
  2. After a few feet, forcefully push off with the left foot and bring the leg forward. At same time drive your right arm forward.
  3. Repeat with other leg and arm
  4. This exercise is an exaggerated running motion focusing on foot push-off and air time.

Bounding with Rings

  1. Jog into the start of the drill for forward momentum.
  2. After a few feet, forcefully push off with the left foot and bring the right leg forward. At same time swing left arm forward and land into the first ring, which is 3-4 feet out and to the left, with the right foot.
  3. Continue and repeat with other leg and arm into the second ring, which is now 3-4 feet up and to the right.
  4. This exercise is an exaggerated running motion focusing on foot push-off and air time.

Box Drill with Rings

  1. Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart with your body facing the first ring.
  2. Hop forward using both feet and land in first ring.
  3. Now hop to the left and land in the ring to the side. Now jump backwards to land in ring behind you. Finish by jumping to your right to land in final ring.
  4. Rest and repeat. Remember to keep ground contact time between bounds to a minimum.Hurdle Jumps

Lateral Hurdle Jumps

  1. Stand beside object to be cleared.
  2. Bring knees up and jump vertically but also laterally off ground and over the barrier.
  3. Land on both feet and immediately jump the other direction over barrier.
  4. Try not to pause between jumps or sink down into a squat position.

High Impact

Zigzag Hops

  1. Stand to the left of an agility ladder or similar object approximately 1-2 feet away.
  2. Forcefully push off both feet and land the on the other side of the ladder.
  3. Repeat and land feet back on the other side, continue repeating and so on down the ladder.4. Do not “double hop” upon each landing and keep ground contact time to a minimum.

Single Leg Tuck Jump

This is the same as the tuck jump exercise above only one leg is used. Upon landing another jump is performed immediately with minimal ground contact time and with the same leg for the desired number of repetitions. This is repeated for the other leg after a rest period. Single leg plyometric exercises are typically more advanced and require greater strength and balance. They are suitable for sports were a takeoff is completed on one leg.

Single Leg Lateral Hops

  1. Start by standing on one leg with your hands on your waist or at your sides.
  2. Proceed to hop to the side while maintaining your balance and hop back to the starting position.
  3. You can place a rope on the ground or any object on the ground. The object can be small in size and height or large to increase difficulty.
  4. Repeat continuously.

Depth Jumps

  1. Stand on box with toes close to edge, feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Step off (do not jump off) box and land on both feet.
  3. Immediately jump up as high as possible and reach up with both hands towards. The jump should be vertical with no horizontal movement.
  4. Ground contact time should be short not like in the animation. Landing should be soft.

Safety Note: Start with a box height of 30cm (12in). Intensity can be increased by gradually increasing the box height to a maximum of 107cm (42in) but this is only for experienced athletes with a substantial strength training background.

Building Your Routine

Building Your Routine

Image Credit: Runtastic.com

For beginners or people new to Plyometrics, stick to the low-impact exercises.

If you are an intermediate level player or experienced in plyometric exercises, you can move on the the medium and high-impact exercises.

Warm-up: 30 Jumping Jacks and 20 bodyweight squats

We’ll Start with a Beginner Routine

We’ll Start with a Beginner Routine

Image Credit: Muscleandfitness.com

The circuit:

Squat Jumps – 10 reps

Jump To Box – 10 reps

Lateral Jump To Box – 10 reps

Repeat circuit 3 to 5 times depending on your ability. Rest up to 3 minutes between circuits IF you must.

Intermediate Level Routine

Intermediate Level Routine

Image Credit: Worldwidelifestyles.com

The circuit:

Split Squat Jumps – 5 reps each leg

Tuck Jumps – 10 reps

Bounding [variation “with rings”] – 10 reps each foot (20 count)

Lateral Box Push-Offs- 8 reps

Box Drill [variation “with rings”] – 8 reps

Repeat circuit 3 to 5 times depending on your ability. Rest up to 3 minutes between circuits IF you have to.

Expert / Advanced Level Routine

Expert Advanced Level Routine

Image Credit: Youtube.com (StKatesAthletics)

The Circuit:

Squat Jumps – 10 reps

Zig-Zag Hops – 10 reps each side (20 count)

Single Leg Tuck Jumps – 8 reps each leg

Depth Jumps – 8 reps

Repeat the circuit up to 5 times depending on your ability. Rest up to 1 minute between circuits. If you still want more after this, stair running is awesome.

Remember to add these routines in as a “lower body day” from Monday’s bodyweight routines to improve your strength and stamina.

Follow these routines and you will be a dominant force on the court.

Don’t forget to come back for the Weekend Challenge on Friday. We’ll put it all together in a ready-made alternating A/B routine to really challenge your skills and your concept of fitness.