Answered by Danya Reich on Monday, February 1, 2010
Trying to put the jump in your jump shot? "Evidence has shown that weight training combined with plyometrics (jump training) can significantly increase jump height," says Timothy Hewett, Ph.D., director of applied research at Cincinnati Sportsmedicine Research Foundation. "You could gain an inch with weights and an inch with jump training; do them both and get two inches." To minimize the possibility of injury, "first, focus on your technique," says Hewett. "You want your jump to be strictly vertical—no side-to-side, forward or backward motions. Take off and focus on landing in the same spot and get deep knee flexion," he adds. Trainer Gary Guerriero, a strength coach and co-owner of the U.S. Athletic Training Center gym in New York City, also recommends that beginners build muscle and flexibility before jumping: "Make sure you have at least squatted your body weight or can leg press one and a half times your body." Guerriero advises stretching "the hip flexors, hamstrings and calf muscles because those areas have to be pliable and loose during jumps." When you're ready, start with 20 seconds of squat jumps (squat down until your fingertips touch the floor, take off vertically, land and repeat) then 20 seconds of tuck jumps (spring up while throwing your hands above your head and bringing your knees high, land and repeat). Hewett suggests a structured 3-day-a-week program with 15 minutes of stretching, a 30-minute session of 8 to 9 jumping exercises, followed by strength training for optimum results. When can you expect to see the difference? "The minimum it takes to really adapt muscle and actually grow muscle is about a 6 week period," says Hewett. His bonus tip: Come up exactly vertical by throwing your arms into the jump—it's been shown to give up to 10 percent more height.