A good vertical jump doesn't require special footwear, years of training, or Dwyane Wade's genetics. With the following fairly simple exercises, you'll be able to out-rebound opponents on the court and in the cereal aisle in just a few weeks.
1. Get the knots out of your leg muscles
If you've ever had your girlfriend dig her thumb into your back, you know what it feels like to have a "muscle knot".
These knots — also called "trigger points" — are everywhere in your body and restrict the length of your muscle tissue, making them shortened and weaker.
Use a foam roller to get rid of these knots and lengthen your muscles.
With each exercise, move slowly and stop on tender spots. Work on each of the following muscles for at least 30 seconds before switching legs.
Calves: Put the roller under your calf and rest your other foot on the floor. Roll from your ankle to your knee.
IT Band: Lie on your side with the roller near your hip and rest your other foot on the floor. Move the roller along your outer thigh. You can increase pressure by stacking your legs on top of one another.
Quads: Lie on your stomach with the roller placed under the front of your thigh. Roll up and down from the bottom of your hip to the top of your knee.
2. Do Bulgarian Split Squats
Your legs give you power to jump higher. Too bad most guys rarely train their legs. The Bulgarian split squat will help build strength, while improving your balance.
To do it, stand a couple paces away from a bench, and place your non-working leg on it. The top of your foot should be on the bench. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand erect with your chest up. Descend until your back knee nearly touches the floor. Using your heel of your lead foot (the one that's on the floor), push yourself back up into a standing position. That's one rep. Try doing 3 sets of 8 reps on each leg on your lower-body workout day.
3. Practice Depth Jumps
A depth jump is performed by stepping off a box and then exploding upward immediately upon landing on the ground. This teaches reaction time and will help your lower body muscles activate when you need to catch air.
Start by standing on a box that is 6 to 8 inches off the ground. Step off. As soon as you touch the ground jump as high as you can, reaching your arms overhead. Land softly in an athletic position. Take a second to recover, then step back onto the box, set yourself, and repeat. Try doing 3 sets of 3 reps on Week 1, 4 sets of 3 reps on Week 2, and 5 sets of 3 reps on Week 3.