Chances are, if you ask most people at the gym about their workout, they'll detail a plan to gain massive amounts of muscle or shed a significant amount of fat. But fitness programs aren't just limited to those goals; you can use them for improving specific skills as well. Specialized workout plans can help you meet goals, whether it's improving your performance in a certain sport or increasing your jump height. If your goal is jumping higher, the best workout will be one that targets all of the muscles that drive the motion of jumping.
The best workouts for jumping target specific muscles. According to Brian R. Umberger, MS, CSCS, of the University of Rochester Medical Center, most of the drive that powers your vertical jump comes from the muscles that act on the knee joint. One large muscle group that acts on the knee joint is the quadriceps, so strengthening these muscles should be a priority in your plan. Among the most effective exercises for your quadriceps are the dumbbell step-up, deadlift, front squat and forward lunge. If you had to choose just one, the squat may provide the most bang for your buck; a study from the June 2004 edition of the "British Journal of Sports Medicine" indicates that squat strength is directly correlated to jump height.
Jumping isn't just about your quads, though. Your hamstrings also help drive motion of your knee joint, so try some hamstring exercises as part of your workout for maximizing jump height. Your hamstrings, which are located on the back of your thigh, can be worked through deadlifts, the leg curl and the leg press.
Don't forget about your lower legs when it comes to improving jump height. Your calf muscles are particularly important for jumping because they act not only on your knee, but on your ankle joint as well. As you may have noticed, your ankle moves your foot and helps you push off of the ground and get the most height out of your jumping motion. To work your calf muscles, you can perform exercises such as the standing calf raise and seated calf press, which is performed on the leg press machine.
Your core is central to many athletic feats, such as jumping higher. These muscles help keep your body stable and promote proper balance. If you try to jump while off-balance, you may not achieve your maximal vertical height potential. Performing weighted crunches, planks, low cable rows and deadlifts will help you build up your core strength for jumping. Such exercises can also help tone your tummy, which is never a bad thing, either.
In addition to having strong muscles, having a lower body weight may help you increase your jump height as well. Thus, you may wish to include cardio exercises in your workout plan that can help you burn calories and lose weight. Running and biking intervals can help you efficiently burn calories, and those activities can also help you strengthen your leg muscles, making cardio a win-win choice.
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images