For some reason people seem to think that jumping rope is a great way to increase your vertical jump. But the reality is that you can jump rope all you like and your vertical won’t go up much. It has a place within the realm of general fitness, but it’s really not an effective way to go about increasing your vertical jump at all.
Jumping rope has its benefits and can indirectly help improve your vertical, however the exercise itself is not particularly effective when it comes to vertical jump training. There are simply far superior ways to go about training for increasing your vertical jump.
This article will briefly tough on the biomechanics of the vertical jump so you can better understand what needs to happen in order to jump higher. We’ll then run through why jumping rope is an ineffective vertical jump exercise and lastly we’ll look at why you may still want to jump rope if one of your goals is to jump higher.
Understanding Vertical Jump Improvement
The first thing you need to understand is what actually needs to take place in order to increase your vertical jump. There’s really only two things you need to do to jump higher.
Every athlete will need to focus on both of these aspects and most will have to give one more attention than the other.
- Increase Raw Strength – As Kelly Baggett puts it, this is the measure of ‘horsepower’. How much force are your legs capable of producing?
- Increase Rate Of Force Development – RFD refers to how well you’re able to leverage that sheer strength into the sport specific movement of the vertical jump. How quickly can you produce force? In other words, power.
The recipe for vertical jump is literally just strength x RFD. It’s that simple.
And so if we want to add inches to our vertical jump we need to be doing specific things that increase either our strength or rate of force development, or both.
On the strength side of the equation, your primary movements will be as follows.
- Back Squats
- Hip Thrusts
- GHRs & Nordic Variations
- Bulgarian Split Squats
- Calf Raises
The job of these exercises is to make our legs as strong as possible so that we’re able to generate as much force as possible when it comes time to jump.
On the RFD side of the equation, you’ve got the following exercises.
- Depth Jumps
- Depth Drops
- Max Jump Attempts
- Ballistics/Power/Speed Strength (there’s many different terms to describe similar exercises)
- Med Ball Tosses
- Power Cleans (or any of the Oly lifts)
- Squat Jumps
- Dumbbell Snatches
All of these exercises are excellent for training you to produce force quickly (RFD).
Notice how jumping rope doesn’t feature on either of these lists? That’s because it’s a wishy washy vertical jump exercise at best: it doesn’t do much for strength or RFD.
Why Jumping Rope Fails As A Vertical Jump Exercise
So now that you have a decent understanding of the two major components of an improved vertical jump, let’s examine why jumping rope is not such a good idea.
Inadequate Force Generation
The total force produced to allow us to jump over a rope is very minimal. Jumping rope will barely increase strength if at all in trained athletes. It’s far more of a balance and coordination exercise than a strengthening exercise.
Of course if you’re extremely sedentary or detrained, jumping rope will ‘strengthen’ your legs, but not really much more than walking or jogging would.
When examining actual vertical jump strength training programs, there’s often a lot of extremely heavy lifting going on. The goal is to get strong enough that we can squat around twice our bodyweight.
That’s how you effectively move the needle on the strength aspect of vertical jump training. Not by repeatedly doing massively submaximal toe jumps!
Wrong Stretch Shortening Cycle
When you look at a max vertical jump attempt, be it standing or an approach jump, you’ll notice it’s a lot slower of a movement than the movement seen when jumping rope.
When training to increase your vertical jump, you always want to replicate the stretch shortening cycle of the movement you’re looking to improve. In our case that’s either the SVJ or RVJ.
This means we’re happy to increase our ground contact time, and get a deeper knee bend to generate as much force as possible.
Jumping rope has a very quick ground contact time and doesn’t allow us to adequately practice generating maximum force.
Lack Of Triple Extension
Biomechanically, the movement of jumping rope is actually quite different to the maximum vertical jump (which is what we’re trying to improve). The main reason for this is because triple extension is almost nowhere to be seen!
What do I mean by triple extension? It’s the ankle, knee, and hip joints working together to allow us to produce power, as shown below.
When you’re jumping rope, your torso is almost completely straight – there’s zero hip extension. Knee extension is minimal, and the movement primarily involves ankle extension.
When training for the vertical jump, we want to practice exercises that involve as much triple extension as possible.
How Jumping Rope May Increase Your Vertical
If you happened to make jumping rope part of your regular routine, you may actually see some carry over to an improved vertical jump.
I’m about to explain why this may happen but it’s important to understand that this doesn’t make jumping rope great for vertical jump training, but it’s certainly better than nothing.
Losing Fat Will Make You Jump Higher
If you’ve ever looked at any of the top dunkers, you’ll notice they’re mostly all shredded. Fat is not useful tissue to have on our bodies and the less fat you have, the higher you’ll jump if everything else stays the same. That’s just basic mathematics.
As I’ll discuss below, jumping rope is a great way to lose fat. Clearly this is a completely indirect way to increase your vertical jump via jumping rope, but it works.
If you’re a volleyball player who’s carrying a bit of extra fat and you decide to do some extra cardio every day, including 30 minutes of jumping rope, you’re going to get leaner, lighter, and assuming you continue lifting and jumping, your vertical jump will increase as a result.
I prefer jumping rope over something like jogging for this because even if its carryover to the vertical jump is minimal, at the end of the day it’s still jumping which is more specific to the vertical jump than running. At least you’ll improve your ankle extensors somewhat by jumping rope.
Conditioning For Vertical Jump Athletes
Jumping rope can be an awesome conditioning exercise and it’s actually something I recommend to athletes who are interested in jumping higher, but also need to be very fit.
I’m primarily talking to basketballers here. If you’re a serious hooper and you’re playing big minutes, you need to be extremely fit.
Training for cardiovascular endurance has always been at odds with vertical jump training. When you’re running suicides for hours on end, you’re making great use of your slow twitch muscle fibers but not doing much for the fast twitch fibers responsible for making you jump high.
At the end of the day, if you’re a basketballer, you can’t really avoid this type of training. You need to be fit.
Jumping rope, however, is a great way to accomplish that cardiovascular endurance you need in order to perform throughout an entire basketball game.
The reason I like it so much is as I mentioned earlier: it is a far more vertical jump specific movement than jogging is. A bunch of small jumps is better than no jumps!
It also burns slightly more calories than jogging does so there’s that.
So if you’re looking to increase your vertical, but need to stay fit and get your cardio in, try to include as much rope jumping as you can stomach! It’ll be slightly better for your vertical than jogging.
How Long Should I Jump Rope To Increase Vertical?
I see this question asked a lot on the internet. The answer is, you really shouldn’t spend much time jumping rope at all, if your goal is to increase your vertical. Any amount of time you spend jumping rope in the hopes of increasing your vertical jump would be better spent doing actual vertical jump training exercises.
If you want, it’s totally fine to include jumping rope in your dynamic warm up and I’m all for that. But I’d keep it to a couple minutes tops as you’re simply trying to get some blood flowing.
If you’re jumping rope for cardiovascular endurance then the sky’s the limit!
Jumping rope is a great exercise and definitely has its place, but it’s not a vertical jump training exercise.
Quite frankly, it annoys me when I read articles online by people who say “yes, jumping rope will increase your vertical jump because it strengthens your legs!” Bollocks. That’s no different to saying you should jog to increase your vertical jump because it also strengthens your legs…
And technically these people aren’t wrong. But that doesn’t mean you should start jumping rope if your goal is to increase your vertical. That would be like practicing basic arithmetic to get better at calculus. It’s just not going to help in any meaningful way.
Hopefully you now understand what actually is required to increase your vertical jump and can select some far superior vertical jump training exercises.
I recently wrote an article discussing the nine best exercises you can do to increase your vertical at home, so be sure to check that out if you’re looking for some better alternatives to jumping rope.