Improving Your Vertical Jump

So you were impressed by the YouTube video of Kobe Bryant jumping over a speeding Aston Martin, and now you want to improve your vertical jump. We strongly discourage anyone from attempting to jump over a moving vehicle, but we can offer a few tips for improving standing vertical jump height from the Journal of Applied Biomechanics.

Scientists examined the mechanics of vertical jumping by creating a computer simulation. They found that the knee and ankle joints play the biggest role in jump height. Optimizing them can give you as much as a 3 centimeter edge. That's a 2.4% improvement. How does that translate to gym work? You can perform deadlifts and squats to build your quads, calf raises to strengthen calves and lunges for hamstring development. The shoulder is the least effective joint involved in vertical jumping. Optimizing it produces only a 0.6% gain. However, its influence as part of a larger system (your body) should not be overlooked.

The Bigger Picture: You can improve muscles and groups of muscles to better perform just about any physical feat. On the other hand, working to improve all the different aspects of your body is likely to enhance your ability to perform a much wider range of activities. You'll also end up with a more balanced and proportional physique.
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