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Workouts to Help With Vertical Leap

The vertical leap is an athletic skill that is used in a variety sports, which include basketball, mogul skiing, football, volleyball and vault jumping. Performing the vertical leap incorporates almost every aspect of fitness, especially power, strength, agility, coordination, proprioception, speed, balance and, to some degree, flexibility. Since it is one of the most challenging skills to master, a detailed and progressive training program is required.

Strength Training
There are some athletic coaches who will not allow their athletes to perform plyometric exercises unless they are capable of squatting at least 1.5 percent of their body weight. While there is no scientific evidence backing this theory, logic dictates that the impact forces from plyometric exercise may equal up to seven times your body weight, a considerable amount of strength is needed. Therefore, a program that involves weighted squats and lunges would be effective for building enough strength to perform plyometric exercises. This type of program should be performed three times weekly. Since you will be training for strength, as opposed to endurance, choose a weight that allows you to perform no more than two or three sets of eight repetitions.

Squats can either be performed with the weight on your shoulders or by holding two dumbbells in each hand and keeping your hands along side of your body. Watch the alignment of your knees. As you bend them, they should face straight ahead as if they were the headlights of a car. Your upper back should be straight, and your hips should move back as if you were about to sit on a chair.

Walking Lunges
Although there are many variations of a lunge, for pre-plyometric exercise, due to its dynamic nature, the walking lunge is the most effective. Either place a barbell on your back or hold a dumbbell with each hand. Step forwards with one leg. Keep your body in an upright position. Bend both knees and lift your back heel. Straighten your legs and then step forwards with the other leg. This lunge should travel across the room.

Balance Devices
The vertical leap is a plyometric movement, which requires a precise landing mechanism. As such, it is important to enhance your proprioception, which is your body's awareness of its position in space. Performing squats and lunges on devices such as the bosu or balance board can be effective for enhancing balance and proprioception. You can also improve agility by standing on a bosu, tossing a medicine ball into the air and catching it as you land in a squat.

Integrated Training
Integrated training is a conditioning method that was developed by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Begin with a traditional strength training exercise such as a squat or a lunge. Then, use less weight, and perform the same exercise on a balance device. Plyometrics are added at the third stage of integrated training. In general the plyometric exercise would involve a jumping variation that uses the same muscle group as the strength exercise. The plyometric moves should be performed for a maximum of six repetitions.

The 123 Jump
The 123 Jump involves a two-count sprint with a leap on the third count. Some athletes like to mark a course so they know where to leap.

Jumping Lunges
Begin by performing a lunge. Then, jump into the air and land with the opposite foot forwards.

Plyometric Lunges
This is an extremely challenging lunge that can increase unilateral leg strength. Stand with your rear foot on a low bench and your other foot on the floor. Jump into the air, leaving your rear foot on the bench.

Single Leg Box Jumps
Begin with a low platform of about 6 inches high and eventually progress to a higher one. Stand about a foot away from the box. As you swing your arms forwards, leap into the air. Land on the box and balance on one leg. Step down and repeat with the other leg.