Improved Vertical Leap

Some call squats the “king” of lower body exercises for strength training, but this only true if it is done properly. The biggest mistake most people new to the squats make is leaning too far with their body. This will hurt your back and make your progress much slower than it should be. While doing the squat, keep the bar resting you’re your upper back, rather than your neck. Always keep your knees above your feet to keep stable. And at first, focus on whether or not you are doing it properly, not how much weight you can lift.

Dumbbell lunges are also great for overall leg strength. Just grab a pair of dumbbells (one in each hand), stand up straight, and step as far as possible while still keeping your torso straight up and down. In the deepest part of the movement, your front leg should be in a ninety degree angle. Now stand up and repeat with the other leg. About a dozen reps with each leg should be sufficient for a basketball player’s purposes.

Of course, you can’t get great vertical leap with strength training alone. You also need to do plyometrics, that is, drills that require you to jump with explosive force. One good example is the “weighted box jump.” To do this exercise, get a box that is anywhere from a foot and a half to two feet and a half high (depending on how high your vertical leap is). Now, with a light dumbbell in each hand, jump onto the box, landing as softly as you can. It helps to bend the knees fully upon landing. Hop off and repeat.

Power cleans are a great exercise to train fast, dynamic movement, but they require a great deal of technique. Doing it wrong might result in no development, or worse yet, serious injury. Definitely consult with a personal trainer before attempting this advanced exercise.

Like in any good exercise program, don’t neglect your cardio. After all, the less fat your muscles have to carry upwards, the farther up you are likely to go!