The vertical jump is usually used as an assessment of an athlete's fitness. Many sports involve jumping, and your ability to jump vertically from the stationary and moving position is a good test of the strength you have in your legs and upper body. The vertical jump involves almost every muscle group in your legs, so any workout such as stair climbing that targets most of your leg muscle groups will extend your maximum vertical jump.
Muscle Groups in Stair Climbing
When you're running up stairs or working on an elliptical, you're cycling through several very separate muscle groups in your legs. When you push down with your forward leg and lift yourself, the motion begins in the hip extensors in your rear and then shifts to the knee extensors along the tops of your thighs. Once the motion completes and your body is over the stair, the ankle plantar flexors, knee flexors and hip flexors complete the step.
Muscle Groups in a Vertical Jump
During a vertical jump, most of the muscle groups that lift you off the ground are the same groups that lift you during a step. The difference in the two actions lies in the windup motion you do during a vertical jump. This action involves the anterior muscles, like the abdominals. Your abs work with the muscles in your legs and release in a snapping motion as you apply downward force during the jump, increasing your height.
Since the vertical jump and the stair-climb both rely on the same key muscles in your legs, a stair-climbing routine will increase your vertical jump if it's part of a larger workout. Other muscles, like your calves, hip flexors and knee flexors receive less of a workout from stair climbing as they do from targeted resistance training. Make resistance training for your calves and knees on a leg machine a part of your routine for better results.
Vertical jumping makes for a good assessment of athletic ability because of the diverse group of muscles needed to complete the action. Use the vertical jump as part of a workout that embraces overall fitness rather than focusing on a particular muscle group. Stair climbing is great for cardio and leg strength and should be connected to resistance training for the maximum increase to your vertical jump. Follow this routine on a regular basis, and you'll be leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.
Max Roman Dilthey is a science, health and culture writer currently pursuing a master's of sustainability science. Based in Massachusetts, he blogs about cycling at MaxTheCyclist.com.