How high you can jump depends on the strength and power of your legs. If you’re an athlete, increasing your vertical leap will make you more of a threat on the volleyball court or the soccer field. Incorporating single leg strength exercises that utilize your own bodyweight as resistance will help build strength in the muscles involved in jumping.
Making your legs perform single leg body weight strength training exercises increases the difficulty of the exercise and also prevents your legs from slacking off. The demand on each of your legs doubles when you perform single leg exercises because the one leg has to take on your entire body weight. In addition, when you’re performing exercises with both legs working simultaneously, your dominant leg can take on more than half of the work, allowing your less dominant leg to not work as hard. Single leg exercises forces your legs to handle an equal amount of work.
Because of the increased level of stress your legs will take on from performing single-leg exercises, your muscles need an adequate amount of rest in between each of your workouts. Do your single leg workout just two days per week with two days of rest in between each session. Complete each exercise at a volume of two sets of as many repetitions as you can perform. Single leg exercises are challenging, so it’s likely you won’t be able to perform more than 10 repetitions of any exercise. You should allow your legs three minutes of rest in between sets, but you can move right into the next set if you switch back and forth between legs. As one leg works, the other is resting.
The muscles involved in the vertical leap include the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. To hit your glutes and quadriceps, complete single leg squats, split squats and step-ups. For single leg squats, stand on one leg with your opposite knee bent and foot held in front of you. Push your hips back and lower into a squat. Get set for split squats by standing with your back to a flat bench. Pick up one foot and set those toes on the bench behind you. Lower into a lunge position. For step-ups, place one foot atop a plyo box. Keep your foot set firmly on the box as you step up and drive your opposite knee up towards your chest. For your hamstrings, perform a single leg deadlift by standing on one leg with a dumbbell in your hand. Bend forward at the waist so that you lower the dumbbell towards your set foot and your free leg swings behind you. To develop strength in your calves, perform single leg calf raises by placing the ball of one foot on the edge of a step. Lower your heel down towards the floor and then push off the ball of your foot to raise your heel up.
To more effectively improve your vertical jump, consider incorporating single leg plyometric exercises into your strength training workouts. Plyometrics involve explosive movements and are effective at increasing power. Single leg rim hops and single leg bounds are two plyometric activities that will help you jump higher. For single leg rim hops, stand on one leg underneath a basketball rim. Squat down slightly and then explode into a jump, getting up as high as you can and reaching towards the rim. Land softly and go right into the next repetition. For single leg bounds, squat slightly and then jump as far forward as you can. Stick the landing and then go into the next repetition.
Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.