Being able to jump high is a skill that comes in handy when you play sports such as football, baseball, volleyball and basketball. If you are looking to increase your vertical leap, you can do exercises to strengthen the major muscles in your legs that are responsible for jumping. These include the glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves. The exercises are done with free weights and the weight of the body.
Barbell squats work your glutes, quads and hamstrings, and they are performed with a barbell inside a squat rack. Step under the bar, rest it on your shoulders and place your hands on it with a wide grip. Carefully lift it off the supports, step backward three steps and place your feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly lower yourself down by bending your knees. Once your thighs are parallel with the floor, stand up and repeat for 10 to 12 repetitions.
Leg presses target your butt and thighs, and they are done with a leg-press machine. Sit on the seat, place your feet shoulder-width apart on the steel platform and push it up slightly. After flipping the safety handles to the sides, lower the platform toward your body and stop when your knees form 90 degree angles. Slowly push the platform back up, stopping just short of locking out your knees. Repeat 10 to 12 times.
Leaping lunges are plyometric exercises that are done in an explosive fashion. Stand in a staggered stance with your right foot forward and left foot behind you. Slowly lower yourself down until your right thigh is parallel with the floor and your left knee is an inch above the floor. In a fast motion, jump in the air and switch your foot position, so you land with your left leg forward. Continue to alternate for a set of 10 to 12 repetitions.
Stiff Leg Dead Lifts
Stiff leg dead lifts work your hamstrings and glutes, and they are done with a barbell. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart while holding the bar in front of your thighs with a shoulder-width grip. Slowly bend forward and lower the bar toward the floor. Once you feel a strong contraction in your hamstrings, stand back up and repeat 10 to 12 times.
Your calf muscles are important for giving you the final liftoff from the ground when you are jumping. To strengthen them, perform calf raises on a step. Place the balls of your feet on the step with your heels hanging over the edge. Carefully come up onto your tip toes by contracting your calf muscles. After holding for a second, lower yourself down so your toes are pointing up and hold again. Repeat for 15 to 20 repetitions. You can increase the resistance by holding dumbbells in your hands.
Tuck jumps are explosive exercises that simulate a jumping situation you would run into while playing in a game. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides. Slightly bend your knees and jump in the air as high as possible. As you do this, tuck your knees into your chest. Once you land, immediately do another tuck jump. Repeat for 10 to 12 repetitions.
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