How To Jump Higher (From a Former NBA Strength Coach)

Female High Jumper

When I was in middle school, my gym teacher told me, “it’s all in the calves.”

When I got to college, I shared this “knowledge” with my strength coach and he had me go through this little exercise to show me just how involved in jumping the calves are (you should try this exercise too!). He said to stand up with your legs straight and jump as high as you can without bending your knees at all.

“That’s how much of a role your calves play,” he said.

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Point taken.

As someone who always wanted to play in the NBA, I knew the importance of jumping high in my sport and was willing to do whatever I needed to do to make that happen.

What really matters in jumping higher is not what you think it is. It all boils down to your body’s ability to properly position your ribs on top of your hips.

If you want to jump high, your starting position has to be a nice stacked position of your ribs on top of your hips.

Model of Rib and Pelvis Positioning

Take a look at the picture above. The highest jumper in this picture is the middle stick figure. Far too often, athletes are starting their jump in the position of our friend on the far right.

The far right is our powerful end range. NOT THE STARTING POINT! If you’re starting at the end, there’s nowhere left for you to go!

Well, you may be asking what exercises should I do to jump higher? There are some really basic things that you can do to start the process but for breaking through into the stratosphere, we use the genMAX Training Model which you can learn about here.

The first place to focus is the hamstrings. The hamstrings attach to the back of your hips, on your sit bone (called the ischial tuberosity). If you make them really strong, they will always be working to keep you in a wonderful position. The hamstrings are a major player is efficient single leg stance.

You’ll want to take the same approach with your obliques. Notice that I didn’t say abs. I don’t want your six-pack muscle. I want your obliques because they have HUGE attachments to the ribs and hips compared to the six-pack muscle (rectus abdominis).

The Anatomy of the Abdominals

In the above picture, take note of how the rectus abdominis on the left (your six pack muscle) has very small attachment sites on the ribs and pelvis. This means that it has very little influence over that super important position that we said you need to jump higher.

If you look at the pictures of the obliques on the right, you can see they have a TON of attachment sites, so they can really help the cause and keep you in position.

In the gym, I put a heavy focus on exercises that train the hamstrings and obliques. My favorite exercises to jump higher are single leg hip thrusts, anti-rotation iso holds, Nordic hamstring oscillations and crunch holds.

This will be a great start to improving your vertical jump BUT, if you’re looking to unlock elite explosiveness, it’s is a bit more complex. There are a lot of other factors to consider. This is why, we at 4A Health, put together the genMAX Seminar. This system is designed to give you ALL of the answers and a plan of action to start using right away.

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