I work with a lot of talented basketball players on vertical jump training. In fact I’ve recently been working with TJ Leaf of the Pacers with some crazy power improvements that have earned him a new contract. Wish this was you? If you’re looking to take your hops to the next level, here’s how to increase vertical jump to dunk.
A lot of newer athletes tend to just set up the tape and do a few casual jumps for max height at the end of a workout. Developing an elite vertical jump requires you to have a plan. You need to approach your vertical jump training with specific programming leading up to the season. Whether you’re a neighborhood court star or a starting forward, we all want to be able to dunk. First I’m going to share the best method for developing vertical jump:
Modified Triphasic For Vertical Jump
I’ve been a strength and conditioning coach for many years, and have helped to develop some of the best stars in professional sports today. What I’ve learned is that there’s many ways to skin a cat as they say. What I’m going to explain next is my most recent and advanced findings after going through the trenches and perfecting my craft. This has been a combination of me trying to continue challenging the ceiling of these athletes’ vertical abilities.
I stumbled upon modified triphasic training when I reached my own vertical jump plateau at 40″. Coach Cal Dietz introduced this method to me and I made my way up to a 44″ vertical using the following approach.
Q: What is modified triphasic training?
A: A style of training based off block periodization where you resistance train with a first on the isometric phase, next on the eccentric phase, and finally on the concentric phase of movement. These are all done before a “peak” stage individual to each athlete.
Phase 1: Isometric
Isometric movements focus on maintaining or holding your position Your main focusing when training to increase vertical jump should be on building up strong foundations. Think of it as a race car. If you’re trying to make the car go faster, make sure it’s got good tires and a solid frame before upgrading the engine. In other words, focus on the frame first.
This is why isometrics are so powerful because they increase your tendon stiffness which helps give you the “bounce” to your step. That’s why its’ important to have a combination of resistance training and plyometrics in your vertical jump training
Phase 2: Eccentric
Eccentrics focus on stressing the “lowering” portion of the movement. Now that you’ve improved the frame of the car, you can think about upgrading the brakes.
Eccentrics work the stretch-reflex, stretch-shortening cycle and also work to improve dynamic movement. This is also where you’ll work on deceleration or as I describe it the ability to absorb force.
Phase 3: Concentric
Concentric movements conversely focus on stressing the “up” portion of the movement. There’s a huge benefit to stressing the shortening cycle of the muscle. This is in other words the propulsion phase of your vertical jump training
Workout For Vertical Jump to Dunk
There’s a big difference in being able to jump higher just to hit a number and being able to jump higher to dunk a basketball. The latter is far more athletic and agile, especially since it’s mostly performed in a game time setting.
These are a few important aspects to hit when diving into vertical jump training. You’ll be most successful when your workout is structured to best prepare the nervous system for flight. This includes an active warm-up, and plyometrics before getting into your jump attempts. Let’s get into a few specifics on just how to increase vertical jump to dunk using the method above.
Always start with a solid warm-up to activate the muscles of the posterior chain. I recommend using some bands to turn on the glutes and hip flexors as well as some low level plyometrics to activate the foot/ankle complex. Here’s a few examples of my favorite vertical warm-up drills:
- Lateral band walks
- Forward band (monster) walks
- Single leg pogo jumps
- High to low pogo jumps
After the warm-up, I like taking athletes into some more plyometric focused drills focused on increasing their explosive power. Here’s a few ideas you can try in this section of your workout:
- Decelerating bench switch steps
- Single leg box jump – land 2
- Approach box jumps
- Tempo skater jumps
- Skater jump w/ single leg pogo
Once we start getting into these approach jumps, your mindset should be in full vertical jump mode. Each modality you’re practicing with should be for fewer repetitions, but at maximum intensity so that you can practice like the real thing. This is one aspect I’ve seen take my athletes from average to elite: pretend like every rep is the real thing.
I include a lot of skater jumps in this vertical jump workout since it’s a great movement for basketball athletes to work on. The skater jump simulates having to move laterally and then get up as if you’re dodging a defender and taking the ball to rim.
You’ll definitely notice throughout my training with athletes that I typically prefer to do our speed or power work first before a focus on strength. This is because it takes more explosiveness to hit box jumps than move a heavy load so I want the athlete to stay quick and light on their feet.
- Split stance trap bar deadlift w/ rear foot elevated
- Iso step downs
- Lateral lunge w/ goblet hold
Do the trap bar deadlift and iso step downs as a superset. This first pairing of movements seriously burns out one leg at a time. This is important because as an athlete you’re almost always running or jumping off just one leg at a time. Single leg or unilateral work helps focus the load of the trap bar deadlift work as well as iso step downs in the hamstring, glute and hip of the working leg. Focus on keeping the step downs quick and responsive.
The final strength movement increases lateral force, similarly to the lateral power we focuses on with skater jumps. To get a better idea of how everything looks and pairs together, watch the workout video below to see just how to increase vertical jump to dunk.
For a few more examples of training for basketball and vertical jump, check out the following posts:
Vertical Jump Program
If you guys are interested in a full basketball program, I highly recommend you check out the link below. My program Built 2 Ball isn’t just working on vertical power but every attribute that a basketball athlete needs.
Increase your bounce, agility, and overall explosiveness with this 14 week training based on the four key factors that enhance basketball athletes: strength, power, acceleration & deceleration, plus agility. The best guys in the NBA are already training this way… if you’re ready to have your best season yet, join us. In fact, this exact formula is the method that got TJ Leaf his fourth year sign to the Pacers. Now it’s your turn.