Last week I was testing out a new vertical jump warm-up series with my elite basketball athletes (who have each increased their vertical by 6 inches since starting with OTA). Using a full warm-up before starting a workout is essential to getting the most out of your movement… it preps and primes the nervous system for quickness and power – or in this case a major vertical jump.
VERTICAL JUMP WARM-UP
The following series was designed with vertical power in mind. I recommend starting off with this warm-up first, then following up with this vertical jump warm-up series before hitting a vertical jump workout.
You can also use these 3 advances drills to fully prep your nervous system and prepare for explosive movement.
Bands are a great tool for warming up. You can purchase my full set of OTA bands with every length and resistance you’ll need for any vertical jump workout here.
CIRCLE BAND SQUATS
Start these squats with your feet directly below the hips and the toes pointing forward. With your feet, think about spreading the floor apart by putting pressure into the outer edges of the feet. Place the band just above your knees. Perform 10 squats.
SINGLE LEG TOE TOUCH
These drills are great at working on balance, coordination and unilateral strength.
To start – balancing on your right foot, reach the left hand straight up to the ceiling – then down to touch the right foot. Be sure not to just forward fold and bend down to touch the foot. Rather, bend the knee of the standing leg so you’re sinking down towards the floor maintaining a strong hinge position.
The ankle, knee, and hip should all flex or “bend” as you reach down. Perform 5 reps on each side.
This next drill is meant to activate the hips more so they’re fired up for vertical jump.
Begin facing laterally, taking a wide stance with the feet outside of the hips. Thinking “low and slow” begin moving laterally, while keeping the toes forward and the hips low and engaged the entire time.
This old favorite only belongs in your training if you do it the right way: Quick and powerful.
As you swivel to bring the trailing leg to step in front, think of popping the hips and striking the ground to keep it agile. These are great for introducing a bit of twisting to the hips helping to warm the lower body.
Perform 2 sets of 10 yards in each direction.
HEEL TO TOE WALKS
Continuing on with our vertical jump warm-up series, lower limb prep is essential for producing a strong vertical. I learned this drill from a coaching buddy of mine Pete Bommarito who you guys can check out here.
You’re going to be walking from heel to toe without any momentum. I love this drill because it forces you to work through the full range of motion in your foot and ankle (both plantar flexion and dorsiflexion) which are major components of getting you UP on a vertical jump.
4 WAY HIP ACTIVATION
Coming down to the floor we’ll start one of my favorite drills: 4 way hip activation. This is great for getting into the nervous system and starting to turn on every link in the chain of muscles you need for vertical jump. Start in a tabletop position with your hands and knees on the floor with a neutral spine.
I only want you to take these to your “active end range.” This is the point at which your hips open up, while maintaining the original position of the torso. Your goal is to keep from twisting through the chest or thoracic spine while lifting the knee to its most mobile point.
- From your tabletop position, begin lifting a knee to the side and going only as high as your active end range. Think about maintaining a 90 degree angle throughout your leg, pulling the toes toward the shin.
For each drill in the 4 way hip activation, you’ll perform 3 slow reps with a 1 second pause at the top and then immediately go into 3 fast, reflexive reps with that same leg. Repeat on both sides for each variation.
2. Next you’ll return to the original side, and straighten the leg bringing out to the side. Activating the muscles of the lateral hip, lift the leg up straight to your active end range.
3. Your 3rd drill in this hip series takes the leg straight back behind you targeting the gluteus maximus: a STRONG factor in your vertical jump ability. This time be sure you’re not bringing the leg too high and swaying the low back. Instead maintain a strong core and neutral pelvic tilt as you bring the leg just high enough to where you feel the glute working.
4. Coming down onto your side next, reach the bottom arm out in front of you for some stability. Begin lifting the top leg to a comfortable range. As you maintain a strong flex in the foot (pulling the toes toward the shin), you should feel the top gluteus medius doing it’s job.
5. Before you switch to the other side, stay to work your adductors by bringing the knee of the top leg, to the floor in front. This exposes the other leg which you can lift for identical reps, keeping flexion in the foot. Roll to your other side and begin your reps with the top leg.
6. Next roll onto to your back keeping one leg bent with the knee facing straight up, and the other straight out in front. While maintaining contact between the ground and your low back, begin lifting the straightened leg to your active end range and the foot flexed. After doing all your reps on both sides, you’ll do essentially the same drill but with both legs straight out in front.
CIRCLE BAND WALKS
Now that the nervous system and muscles of the hips are fully activated, we’re going to finish out this vertical jump warm-up series with a few more dynamic movements.
Grab your circle band again – setting it up around both legs just above the knees. Take a wide stance with the hips low, feet just outside the hips and the toes facing forward. Maintain this position as walk 10 yard forward and backwards.
Keeping this same stance, turn so that you now move laterally 10 yards down and back. The hardest part will be keeping the toes facing forward the entire time.
1.Stationary pogo jumps are a drill I always go back to for their simplicity and effectiveness. Standing tall, you’ll begin jumping in place with emphasis of springing up from the balls of your feet.
Perform 2 x 10 reps
2. Pulsing Pogo Jumps: For this next round I want you to jump as high as you can on every other jump. Notice I didn’t say every single jump… Use one hop to absorb force and the next to explode.
Perform 2 x 10 reps
3. Single Leg Pogo Jumps: These are the same as your normal normal pogo jumps, placing emphasis on just one leg at a time. These are great to do since they can almost always reveal which foot and ankle you tend to be less stable on.
Perform 2 x 10 reps
SPLIT SQUAT JUMPS
Rather than taking an elongated lunge stance, think about taking a smaller staggered position with both the hips and feet beneath you as they’d be during a vertical jump. Get some height by pushing off the balls of the feet to propel you.
Think fluid and continuous. Each drill we’ve done throughout this vertical jump warm-up series has gotten more and more specific to vertical jump with squat jumps being the final pre-requisite. Think about producing force in the same way as you will throughout your upcoming workout and vertical jump. Perform 10 reps.