Improve Your Vertical with this Explosive Workout


Question: I didn’t make the basketball team this year. I know what I need to work on: more vertical and more speed. What are some exercises I can do to improve my vertical?

Answer: We trained a high school basketball player over the past eight weeks during which his vertical improved four inches. The key is to focus on the posterior movement chain muscles for which we have the saying, “fronts are for show and backs are for go.”

You need to focus on calves, hamstrings and the glutes. The quads will get worked but the primary idea is to improve the ratio between quad strength and hamstring strength.

The other portion of the vertical equation is the neuromuscular training we utilize. Most of our training for explosiveness requires three different types of resistance bands. The reason we use bands in most of this training is that bands contain more stored energy than a standard barbell. While they are more passive in the lower part of the exercise they require greater force and energy as you move through the rep range.

We also use a pulling resistance in some exercises instead of always using the standard push position. Attach a band to your ankles and while lying on your side pull one leg towards your torso and hold the position for five seconds. Begin with three reps and three sets for each leg. (see video below)

Clams work the glutes and IT band. This exercise is very specific so begin with three sets of ten reps and work to fifteen reps per set.

Single leg and weighted double leg bridges are an excellent exercise for explosiveness and core strength and are used in conjunction with either leg curls or sliders.

Sled pushes are super for developing driving motion muscles. If you have strong enough resistance bands use them for squats but also alternate using regular barbell squats as well.

Deadlifts are a cornerstone of this program but you’re not simply working to max rep singles. They build total body strength and you’ll do three to four sets dropping from eight to five reps.

Don’t forget your upper body either. You need core and upper body strength to be able to maintain your position.

Plyometrics are used to improve the reaction and explosiveness of your movements. They aren’t just jumping to exhaustion on a raised platform. You can rebound jump from an eighteen inch platform and immediately explode up to 24-36 inch platforms in sets of three to five reps.

It takes work, hard work to be the best you can be and the training ends only when you decide you’re not willing to make improvements. You’re on the right path to success.

God bless and keep training,