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The Athletic Mastery Free Vertical Jump Guide

Before you go on to read the post, if you’re interested in a comprehensive and cheap vertical jump program, check out The Jump Manual here. It is THE most popular vertical jump program on the internet. That is because it is extremely effective. The Jump Manual gives you step-by-step instructions on how to do EVERYTHING you need to improve your vertical jump, from weight training to stretching. You can try it for a limited time for just $1!

This post is loosely based on my vertical jump program, which is going to be released later this year for just $5. However, it is not as comprehensive.

Increasing your vertical jump is very simple. There are two main ways that people train to improve their vertical jump, strength training and plyometrics.

Both of these methods are effective in improving your vertical jump. That is why some vertical jump programs require no weights at all, but still produce results. However, using only strength training by itself,  or power training by itself, is not optimal.

According to a study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (which you can look at for yourself here), using both strength training and plyometrics in combination is more effective then using either training method alone.

Basically, this means that if you want to be able to jump higher, you should definitely be in the weight room. Power is defined as force x velocity, and power is the main determining factor for your vertical jump. To increase power you must increase your ability to produce force through strength training, and increase your ability to produce that force quickly through plyometrics and other power training methods. There are other reasons why plyometrics help your vertical jump and power production (stretch shortening cycle, etc.), but that is beyond the scope of this post.

I will explain every component of your training, in detail, further down in the post. The basic template for your training is as follows:

  1. Plyometrics – 3 sets of 5-8 reps for 3 different exercises OR Dunk Practice – 50-75 dunks
  2. Strength Training

Strength Training

Strength training is the first ingredient in any solid vertical jump program. Every one of the best vertical jump programs involves some kind of strength training. Read through this ENTIRE section, because this is the most important part of your training for most of you. Most of you are already proficient at producing force quickly. This is because athletes regularly jump and sprint, which is essentially what plyometrics are, but rarely strength train. Add in strength training, and you will not only get stronger, but you will see your vertical jump and speed skyrocket. 

Strength training can be done with or without weights. However, it is strongly preferred that you use weights. Strength training with weights is much more effective for overall strength gains. If you have access to them, utilize them. If you cannot get access weights, and have tried to find a way too, then look at my post of the best lower body bodyweight exercises.

DO NOT try to create a strength training program for yourself unless you have a lot of experience with training ,and have done other structured strength training programs before. You will be much better off finding a free strength program on the internet created by a strength coach with a lot of knowledge and experience. Trust me, you will save yourself a lot of wasted time. Strength coaches devote years to learning how to effectively build training programs for athletes. Reading a few articles on the internet will not make you an expert on the subject.

If you are a beginner (weight training seriously for less than 1-2 years straight) and do not know what strength program to do, check out my list of the best beginner strength training programs. Most of you reading this article are beginners, especially if you are in high school.

If you have been strength training seriously and consistently for awhile (at least 1-2 years straight), then you can take a look at my list of the best intermediate strength training programs. In order to choose an intermediate program over a beginner program, you should:

  • Have followed a strength program seriously and consistently.When I say this, I mean that you’ve followed a structured strength training program given to you by a coach, or found on the internet, and made considerable strength gains.
  • If you have 1 rep max squat below 315 pounds (squatting until your thighs are parallel to the ground, no cheating), or a max deadlift below 350-375 pounds, I highly recommend that you start with a beginner program.


Seriously, try a beginner program first unless you are above those thresholds. Beginner programs progress faster because typically those doing them are newer to training (you make gains faster when you are new), and they are working with lighter weights. If you choose an intermediate program when you can still use a beginner program, you will be robbing yourself off possible strength gains.

If you get stuck repeatedly on a beginner strength training program, move on to an intermediate program.

Look through the programs listed for your training level, and choose one. They all are effective at increasing strength, so choose a program based on if it fits into your schedule, appears enjoyable, and includes exercises that you know how to perform. Follow the program as it is written. You can make small modifications to the assistance exercises if you like, but do not make major modifications to the program. They are built the way they are for a reason.

There is one modification you should make for those of you playing AAU sports or summer leagues. If you are following a Monday, Wednesday, Friday strength training routine, and you have a tournament over the weekend, don’t do the Friday workout. Save your energy for the tournament!

If you follow the programs correctly, you will notice HUGE increases in strength. You can easily gain 100+ pounds onto your squat and deadlift in just a few months. Those increases in strength will have you bullying other players on the court, jumping higher, and running faster.

If you don’t know how to perform any of the exercises properly, first check my post about my favorite exercise form videos.

Youtube is another great resource for learning form for different exercises. If you like a training program, but don’t know how to perform certain exercises, search for it on Youtube, and you will find plenty of great videos explaining proper form.


Now, in addition to the basic strength program that you choose, we will add some plyometric exercises. The plyometrics I recommend definitely depend on the sport you are in.

If your sport requires a lot of jumping, like volleyball or basketball, and you play very regularly (3-5 times weekly), you may not need any plyometric training.  You are already doing plenty of jumping. If just add the strength training, you will notice a large increase in vertical jump. Especially if you haven’t strength trained consistently before, or have taken an extended break from strength training.

Now, if you’re not regularly playing your sport, or you just want to do some plyometrics, then you can add them. I have a list of some of the best plyometric exercises that you can use. Check out my post here to see them!

Perform the plyometrics before your strength workouts twice per week. With plyometric training, more is not better. These exercises are about jumping higher, and quicker, not doing repetitions. Don’t turn it into an endurance workout!

Choose 3 different plyometric exercises for each workout. Do 3 sets of 5-8 repetitions for each for each plyometric exercise. Your focus should be on increasing the height that you jump and to shorten the amount of time you are in contact with the ground, not on increasing the amount of repetitions or sets! Change the plyometric exercises you perform every 3-4 weeks.


If You Want to Dunk..

Now, if you want to dunk you should spend your time practicing dunking instead of plyometrics. Still utilize strength training normally, but instead of doing plyometrics practice grabbing the rim or dunking. I recommend somewhere between 50-75 dunks, 2-3 per week before your strength training workouts. Again, for training like this, more is not better. You want to focus on jumping as high as you possibly can, do not turn this into an endurance workout.

Practice jumping off of both one foot and two feet. You need to be able to do both in game!

For your one foot jumps:

  • Make sure to jump off of both the right and left foot. Train each equally.
  • Approach from a variety of different angles.
  • Approach from a variety of distances. Typically for one foot jumps, I utilize full speed jumps from outside of the three point line and two step jumps from the free throw line.

For your two foot jumps:

  • Make sure to use both left-right and right-left steps into your jump.
  • Approach from a variety of distances. Practice vertical jumps with no steps, drop step jumps, and full speed jumps.

If you can’t dunk just begin by grabbing the rim, then move on to dunking a tennis ball, then dunking a women’s ball, then finally dunking a men’s ball.

This is exactly what a practice dunk session should look like (this is not me by the way):


Overall, practicing jumping and dunking is much more fun, and much more specific if your goal is to learn how to dunk. Have some fun with it. Practice throwing yourself oops and dunking off the dribble. Just try to do a variety of dunks or rim grabs.

With athletes that can only grab rim, I like to use a simple progression that you can use if you still can’t dunk a basketball. The progression looks like this:

One hand rim grab  -> Two hand rim grab -> Tennis ball dunk -> Volleyball dunk -> One hand women’s ball dunk -> Two hand women’s ball dunk -> One hand men’s ball dunk -> Two hand men’s ball dunk -> Advanced Dunks

Please comment below if you liked the post or have any questions!