Although having access to a gym is definitely preferred, it is possible to get a really solid vertical jump workout in at home, if you know what you’re doing.
Today I’m going to break down nine of the top exercises you can do to increase your vertical jump at home.
Will I Need Equipment?
No, but if you have some basic equipment, it’ll definitely improve the quality of your workout.
Most of these exercises just involve bodyweight, however some can be improved with some relatively light dumbbells or a weighted vest.
Having said that, with a little creativity, you can create your own weight vest by using a backpack with a couple of books in it or something similar.
If you wanted to go really ghetto you could replace the dumbbells with some several-gallon water or milk bottles.
Again, don’t sweat it if you don’t have any of this. But if you’re happy to go out and find these simple pieces of equipment, it’ll definitely help you get a better at-home vertical jump workout in.
Relatively light dumbbells – Anything from 10-50lbs here is fine. We’re primarily using these for the Bulgarian split squats, so how much weight you need will depend a lot on your initial strength level. A pair of 25lb dumbbells will do nicely for most athletes.
Medicine ball – Again really any weight will do. Just make sure it’s not too big and heavy. We’re going to be launching this into the air so think about the area you’ll be performing this exercise in. If you’re a strong and powerful guy, maybe you want something a bit heavier than a 10lb ball.
Weighted vest – This is a luxury really. You should be able to make do with a backpack. If you do decide to grab the weight vest recommended below, I’d recommend selecting the heaviest option as it’ll allow you to perform more difficult workouts and the weight can always be decreased if it’s too much.
Jump rope – Although not directly used in these exercises, jumping rope is perfect for warming up and it’s also a really good conditioning exercise for basketball players.
With that out of the way, let’s jump straight into my list of the best at-home exercises to increase your vertical jump! I’ve ordered these from most important/effective to least, based on my understanding and experience in vertical jump training.
1. Depth Jumps: The Shock Method
Depth jumps are the holy grail of plyometric training for the vertical jump. It’s literally just an eccentrically loaded (by gravity) vertical jump.
To perform a depth jump is relatively straight forward…
Simply step off a 12-24 inch box, chair, or platform. Once you hit the ground, absorb the force and spring back up into a jump in one smooth motion.
Once you land from the initial drop down, your goal is to absorb that extra force and perform a normal vertical jump.
Go as deep as you normally would, and use an arm swing as you normally would.
Contrary to popular belief, we aren’t trying to get extremely quick ground contact times in here as we’re trying to train the same stretch shortening cycle used for a max vertical jump attempt.
Doing depth jumps with minimal ground contact time is more effective for sprinters and field athletes as opposed to basketballers or volleyballers who are better off using longer ground contact times.
Also make sure you’re not overly tired when starting your depth jumps, so doing them toward the start of a session is a good idea.
You want max effort on each jump so we can really drive home a strong neural adaptation.
The set/rep scheme I recommend when doing these is 4×4. If you’re doing tons of other plyos, you can definitely do less.
Always stop when your performance begins to drop noticeably.
Best Boxes For Depth Jumps?
I’ve used just about every product on the market over the years and by far the best product for depth jumps are the JFIT plyo boxes.
They work the best because they come in a set of 4 boxes which makes consecutive depth jumps a breeze. I’d highly recommend making the investment if you want to take your at-home vertical jump workouts to the next level!
2. Med Ball Tosses
These are one of my absolute favorite exercises because of how close it resembles a vertical jump and because it really is a full body power movement.
There’s plenty of ways to throw a medicine ball but the one we want to focus on here is as shown above.
We’re training primarily hip extension here but using our entire posterior chain to develop force on the ball.
The ball should go both upwards and slightly backwards. If you don’t have room to throw it backwards, focusing on throwing it upwards (and only slightly backwards) is fine.
Use a ball that’s heavy enough that it goes 15-20 feet in the air: 10-30lbs depending on how strong you are.
You should shoot for no more than 8-10 of these tosses.
If you’re throwing them up against a wall and can gauge how high you’re throwing, simply stop when you can see a noticeable drop in height.
No medicine ball? No worries!
You’ll don’t have to fork out the cash for one of these if you can’t afford it.
Instead you’ll just have to get a little more creative and find an appropriate object you can fling around the place. Here are some ideas…
- Use an old backpack. One that you don’t care if it gets damaged. Fill it up with sand, dirt, or hell… even rocks.
- Find a big rock. Might be difficult depending on where you live, but I bet you could find something of reasonable size without having to travel all that far. Obviously make sure you’re throwing this one on a grassed or sandy/soft surface.
- Use a dumbbell. It doesn’t matter that it’s not a ball. As long as you can get a good grip on it and there’s somewhere soft for it to land, an old 15lb dumbbell would work perfectly for this!
You get the idea. I’m sure you could come up with plenty of other pretty decent low-cost solutions here.
3. Bulgarian Split Squat
So far we’ve covered one plyometric drill (depth jump) and one speed strength/power drill (med ball toss) and now it’s time to train for some pure strength!
The Bulgarian split squat is one of the best at-home strength exercises for the vertical jump because you don’t need a ton of load for it to be effective, since it’s a unilateral movement.
I recently wrote an entire article explaining why the Bulgarian split squat is one of the best squat variations for vertical jump training so if you’d like to learn more about why this is, be sure to check out those articles.
Bodyweight Bulgarian Split Squat
Depending on how strong you are, you might be able to get a decent workout just using your bodyweight. In sticking with the theme of at-home exercises, here’s me demonstrating how to do a BSS using a dining table chair!
You start with your foot elevated on a chair or bench, place your front leg out in front of you a comfortable distance, and perform the single leg squat remembering to keep your torso relatively upright. Your front foot doesn’t move.
If 15 repetitions of this unloaded variety is way too easy for you, then you need to modify the exercise to be more difficult. If however you’re actually getting a pretty solid burn in your quads and/or glutes when performing 15 reps, you can stick with this variation initially.
You’ll get stronger at these very quickly because there’s simply a bit of an initial learning curve for most people who aren’t used to doing unilateral strength work like this.
BSS Isometric Hold
Another progression you can try is the isometric hold which is to get down into the squat position and hold it there for 5-10 seconds.
These are great for helping with knee pain and will develop the tendons and ligaments in and around the kneecap.
These are not only a great at-home strength exercise for the vertical jump but once you’re a little more advanced, they become a brilliant prehab exercise – I personally love to do them on deload weeks.
Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat
Using dumbbells is going to be one of the simplest and most effective ways to make the BSS more difficult.
Even light dumbbells will make this quite a bit more challenging. I’d highly recommend grabbing a pair of 25lb dumbbells which will make this exercise a lot more effective.
Don’t want to get any dumbbells? Go to the store and buy a couple three gallon bottles of milk and use those. You can chug the milk after you’re done with your Bulgarian split squats!
If you have a weighted vest, then this is another ideal way to overload this exercise. The Aduro Sport weight vest is perfect for the BSS, but also jumping rope, split squat jumps, and all sorts of plyos like box and depth jumps.
If you want to pass on the weight vest, again you’ll just have to get a little bit creative.
I have been doing these at home during lockdown with a backpack filled with about 10 liters of water bottles inside. You can wear the backpack on your chest if it feels more comfortable that way.
If you’re really strong, you could try these with a backpack while duel wielding the milk bottles!
Bulgarian Split Squat Jumps
Although the purpose of these is to develop strength, there is a variation you can use as a plyometric/speed strength exercise. It’s a little more advanced and is perfect for those who felt they couldn’t get a big enough overload with the other BSS variations.
These are the exact same as what we’ve been doing, except they’re done explosively. The idea is to launch your body up off the ground with your plant foot while keeping your back foot on the bench.
4. Tib Raises
Most athletes completely forget to train their tibialis anterior muscle, which is the meaty part on the front of your shin.
A lot of athletes can get away with this too, but not jumpers.
Your tibialis anterior is heavily involved in not only jumping, but also landing.
Be sure to check out my full article discussing the importance of the tibialis anterior in the vertical jump.
The most effective way of training your tibs is to use a tib bar as demonstrated below.
You can pick these up pretty cheap and it just so happens that the most affordable tib bar on the market (FAE Iron Tib Bar) is also one of the best! If you use my discount code “JUMPSTRONGER” at checkout, you’ll save yourself up to 20% on these!
Don’t have a tib bar? You can do bodyweight tibialis raises as well, although they’re not quite as effective.
Simply stand up against a wall and dorsiflex your ankles, performing 20-30 reps until your shins burn.
5. Max Jump Attempts
Who would have thought that one of the best things for increasing your vertical jump would be to literally just practice jumping!? It’s almost so simple it doesn’t seem right!
At the end of the day, what all the fancy plyometric exercises are trying to replicate, is the act of jumping.
We often say the best exercises have the highest jump specificity. Well nothing is more specific to jumping… than jumping!
You can do standing max vertical jumps or running vertical jumps. I’d recommend doing more RVJs because this gives you an opportunity to practice your approach and focus your intention on improving mechanics while getting some solid reps in.
There’s no real limit to how many of these you should do. From a science point of view, you should keep it to about 10-15 reps and then be done with this exercise for the day.
On the other hand, if you look at some of the best dunkers in the world, they’ll routinely go to the gym and practice jumps for hours upon hours. And they seem to get up just fine!
To be fair, many of these athletes probably have a great deal of fatigue masking their absolute max potential when performing these hours-long workouts.
As a rule of thumb, the shorter the sessions are, the better when it comes to plyometrics.
Pro Tip: Try to use a vertec or some sort of overhead target when performing your max jump attempts as studies have shown you’ll jump higher when you have a target to aim for!1https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/17543371211039632
6. Dumbbell Walking Lunges
We’re switching back to the strength exercises here with this one. Ideally with dumbbells if you have access to them.
Now this exercise doesn’t really have much vertical jump specificity as we discussed earlier, but there’s several reasons why you should include something similar to this in your at-home vertical jump routine.
Unilateral Movements Fix Muscle Imbalances
If you’re a basketballer or even a volleyballer, chances are you have developed some sort of muscle imbalance in your lower body.
Performing unilateral movements forces our opposing muscles to work equally as hard, ensuring balanced development and preventing either side from compensating for the other’s weakness.
Only Requires A Small Load
You don’t need 50lb dumbbells to get a great leg workout with lunges. Just 10-30lbs is plenty and I guarantee you’ll be sore the day after doing these, even with very minimal weight!
Can Be Done Anywhere
Being outside helps a lot but you can even do these inside a tiny studio apartment if you absolutely have to. They can even be done on the spot!
I like to do 10-15 reps per leg, per set. Getting through five sets of that is tough, really tough.
Make sure you foam roll after that workout because the DOMS you get from dumbbell lunges is second to none!
Hopefully by now you get the idea that you don’t actually need dumbbells to do these. Throw some books in a backpack and stick that on while doing these.
7. Single Leg Glute Bridge
This is another example of an isometric hold and is a great, low stress way to strengthen our glutes.
You want to see that straight line running from your knee, past your hip, through to your chest. Assume the position and try to hold for 30-40 seconds per leg. This will be challenging for most people.
It’s tough to adequately hit the glutes when you don’t have access to a gym, but these are perfect to do at home.
Once 40 second holds are easy, stick a dumbbell (or another creative load of your choice) on the elevated hip to make the exercise harder.
8. Depth Drops
This is essentially just the first half of a depth jump. The goal is to drop from a platform and absorb the force as quickly as possible once hitting the ground. If you’re doing it right, you should look almost stiff legged.
Obviously your knees have to be slightly bent, but you’re trying to keep everything as stiff through the lower body as possible. We want to absorb the force immediately.
You can see how little movement there is after the initial impact. The force is immediately absorbed and dissipated throughout the legs.
You can use some fairly high boxes for these ones, but I’d recommend keeping it around 36 inches.
Make sure you’re thoroughly warmed up before doing these. If you have any knee pain or joint issues, don’t do this exercise!
Keep the reps to a minimum. About 10-12 reps total is plenty for this exercise.
9. Single Leg Calf Raises
This is another unilateral strength exercise that’s excellent for home purely because it doesn’t take much weight to overload sufficiently.
The calves are an important vertical jump muscle. They contribute to approximately 15-20% of your overall vertical jump power, so it’s important to ensure they’re strong.
The easiest way to do these is to just stand on a ledge and rest your hand up against the wall for balance.
Do 20-30 reps (or until failure) on each leg. The calves are relatively slow twitch so they can withstand a high amount of volume.
I’d recommend doing 4-5 sets to failure on each leg and doing these twice a week is plenty.
Again, you can overload SL calf raises very easily by holding a dumbbell or by wearing a backpack with some weight in it.
10. Split Jumps
And finally back to a plyometric focus, split jumps are a great full body jump-oriented movement.
They’re essentially just an explosive lunge however they’re best performed when you’re using a full arm swing as you would in a normal vertical jump.
Just do about 3-4 reps each side per set. Aim to generate as much power with each rep, get as high as possible, and remember to really swing your arms.
Even us two foot jumpers will really benefit from including explosive unilateral work like this. It helps iron out muscle imbalances and also hits the knee and hip joints from a unique angle.
Understand The Recipe For Increasing Your Vertical Jump
Improving your vertical jump essentially boils down to two things:
- Increase Strength – The first half is to become stronger. You need to be able to produce more force with your legs.
- Increase Rate Of Force Development (RFD) – RFD is all about how quickly you can utilize that sheer strength in the sport specific movement of the vertical jump. To increase rate of force development, you need to be doing speed strength and plyometric work to train your CNS to become more efficient at activating the muscles involved in the VJ.
It’s important you train both of these aspects in order to maximize vertical jump gains.
About half of these exercises are plyometric or speed strength in nature and focus on the RFD side of the equation while the other half are more strength focused.
While you can make excellent gains at home just from doing these relatively simple exercises, if you want to take your vertical jump training to the next level, you will have to step into the gym at some point and get under the barbell to increase your strength sufficiently.
While having access to a gym where you can do heavy squats and hip thrusts is definitely advantageous, it is entirely possible to get an excellent vertical jump workout in at home using these simple bodyweight exercises.
If you’re able to find some creative ways to overload some of these exercises, they go from being effective to extremely powerful to the point where you can make some serious vertical jump improvements without setting foot in the gym.
So if you don’t have access to a gym, you don’t have an excuse not to be training your vertical jump at home because there’s still plenty you can do!
Increasing Vertical Jump At Home FAQ
I wanted to quickly address a couple of common questions relating to the subject of at-home vertical jump training.
How to increase your vertical jump for volleyball at home?
As a volleyballer you can afford to be more narrow in your focus since you’re really only ever performing bilateral jumps (jumping off two feet).
I would still include some of the unilateral movements I’ve included but I’d definitely put more of a focus on the bilateral movements such as med ball tosses, depth jumps, and depth drops.
These were all exercises prescribed to me when I was training in the national elite volleyball development program. We of course were doing more bilateral lifts like squats and trap bar deadlifts as well as squat jumps.
Working out at home is great in a pinch, but if you’re a serious volleyballer, you need to find yourself a gym and get under a barbell to develop some serious bilateral strength for a big two-foot jump.
Also be sure to check out this article I wrote on increasing your vertical jump for volleyball.
How to increase your vertical jump for basketball at home?
Basketball includes a lot of diverse movements as well as both unilateral and bilateral jumps. The nine exercises above are perfect for basketball as most of them have a strong unilateral focus.
Basketballers specifically can also include jumping rope their training. This exercise is a great way to get the ankle extensors firing and can be used as a conditioning exercise if you do it for long enough.
Most cardio training has a neutral impact at best on vertical jump performance, however since jumping rope is literally just jumping repeatedly, it may be a great way to train for stamina while not harming your vertical.
Basketballers should also include drop jumps in their routine. A drop jump is almost exactly the same as a depth jump, except the goal of the drop jump is to explode back up off the ground as quickly as possible.
In the depth jump, you allow yourself to absorb the force of the landing before springing back up. In the depth drop, you’re trying to bounce up off the ground almost immediately.
You should pre-tense your legs to get ready to rebound off the ground while you’re still in the air.
This exercise trains a much faster stretch shortening cycle which has more carryover to movements such as layups, rebounding, and sprinting up and down the floor which often require minimal ground contact time.
I’ve also got a basketball specific vertical jump guide you should check out!