Just how important is having a strong core when it comes to the vertical jump? How much time should you spend working on those abs if your primary motivation is a higher vertical jump?
Having a strong core is an important aspect of overall athleticism and your vertical jump will benefit from doing regular core exercises.
In the rest of this article, we’re going to look at what the research says about core training and the vertical jump, as well as how much you should be doing and what the best exercises are.
Does Training Core Help Vertical Jump?
The simple answer is yes, obviously core plays a large role in the vertical jump. Having core strength plays a massive role in almost any athletic endeavor.
When we’re jumping, the goal is to transfer force from our hips to our toes as efficiently as possible. Having a stable core is only going to facilitate the efficient transferral of force throughout triple extension.
But does this mean we need to be training abs every day? Are we going to get enough core stimulation just from all the various jumping and squatting we’re doing?
What Does The Research Say?
The results were that both spike jump and block jump increased significantly.
Other research with very young children confirmed a vertical jump improvement after core stability training, but it’s hard to say how much of those results came from general growth and development or from the core program.2https://www.researchgate.net/publication/316856330_Core_Stability_Training_and_Jump_Performance_in_Young_Basketball_Players
There’s not a ton of research on this subject, unfortunately, but I think the logical conclusion is that a strong core is only going to be beneficial for your jump.
Ensure Adequate Core Development For A Higher Vertical Jump
At the end of the day, it’s going to be pretty difficult to have too much core strength or size.
But for many athletes, particularly younger basketballers and volleyballers who are still growing and in their ‘baby giraffe phase’, their lack of core development may be quite apparent and a pretty common issue.
This is why I believe it’s imperative most younger athletes are doing some core specific training at least a couple times a week. Trunk instability will hold you back from jumping your highest and from being as athletic as you want to be.
By spending time on your core, you’ll also be improving your balance and coordination. Your lifts will also increase because you’ll be more deliberate with every movement.
Best Core Exercises For Vertical Jump
If you’re doing squats, deadlifts, GHRs, or really any compound lower body movement, your core is going to benefit. But there are some particularly good core specific exercises you should include to make sure you’re getting enough volume in.
- Medicine Ball Slams – These can be done multiple different ways. Your can start with the ball overhead and simply slam it into the ground with both hands as forcefully as possible. You can also do lateral wall slams, where you’re essentially rugby passing the ball into a wall as hard as possible. This exercise is not only great for your core but it’s also perfect for power development and is my primary core exercise during a power focused phase.
- Woodchops – If you have a cable system, stand at a 45 degree angle and slowly pull the cable across your body, engaging your core from start to finish. This is a great way to develop your obliques in addition to abs.
- Planks – Any plank variation is always a great way to destroy your abs. You can do these with hip extension for extra work, or hip abduction if you’re doing side planks.
- Dead Bugs – Another great one for jumpers. The focus here is to keep your back in contact with the ground while doing contralateral limb raises. It’s excellent for overall body control.
Good Core Workout To Help You Jump Higher
Your vertical jump core workouts don’t have to be elaborate or particularly grueling to be effective.
The key to an effective core workout to help you jump higher is to select exercises that carryover well to the vertical jump.
The thing is, it’s pretty tough to isolate the core in a way that mimics the vertical jump.
The best core exercises with the highest vertical jump carryover will be explosive throwing movements like the following…
- Medicine ball underhand toss 5×5
- Medicine ball overhead slams 5×5
- Medicine ball lateral wall slams 5×5
The obvious issue with the above workout is that it’s effectively an upper body power workout that just happens to involve the core.
If you don’t want the extra power training volume in your routine (which is understandable depending on how you’re programming things), you can basically just select any old core exercises that you like.
You’re simply going to have to sacrifice vertical jump specificity in order to keep the core isolated and overall training volume in-line.
Although it is a good idea if you are doing power-focused workouts to include exercises like the above that will give your core a good workout.
To be completely honest, which core exercises you decide to do isn’t that important. Almost every core exercise is going to have a relatively low correlation to your vertical jump. The key is to ensure you’re hitting all aspects of your core: abs, lateral abs, lower back, and hip flexors.
Pick a couple exercises you feel comfortable with and then every few weeks switch them out for some completely different ones. Do your core work twice a week or so.
Having a strong core is required for any athletic movement, vertical jump included. If you have a deficient core, it’s imperative you’re remedying it immediately, before eventually building it into a strength.