August 17, 2007, Newsletter Issue #308: Developing your Vertical Leap

Tip of the Week

In basketball today, players want to run fast, play strong, and most importantly, jump high. How does one improve the height of his or her vertical leap, you ask? There's a simple answer. Weight training.

The two most important muscles for jumping "out of the gym" are the calf and quadriceps muscles. The power in your jump will come from the quad muscle in the front of your thigh. The explosion that lifts you off of the floor to begin with? That starts with having strong calf muscles.

There are different ways to strengthen those muscles. For your quads, it is smart to perform the leg press workout on a leg press machine, pushing weight outwards or upwards while controlling your body. Leg extensions, where one sits flat and lifts weight upward with both legs, is another way to strengthen the quads. A favorite is the wall sit. This requires less equipment and uses the weight of your own body to build strength. Sit on a wall, dropping your rear end until you quads are at a 90 degree angle and parallel to the ground. Sit there for a while, even adding a weight to your lap, until the muscle starts to burn.

As for the calf muscles, there are a few things one can do to strengthen them. Toe raises are effective. Stand against a wall to keep your balance. Then, on one foot, push your body up and down, keeping the weight on the front balls of your feet. Repeat this any number of times until there is a nice burn in the muscle. Running sprints will also help to develop the calf muscle.

If you can use weight training to strengthen these muscles, you will be well on your way to jumping higher and even running faster. The world's best athletes win their championships in the weight room. There's no reason why you can't join them!

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