Jumping is an explosive activity. It requires instant and rapid power. Many times people are told exercises to jump higher need to be done in a weight room. While building powerful legs can help you jump, often you are training the wrong muscles, and not using the explosive rapid motion required for jumping.
Have you ever noticed how basketball coaches love to have their players run the bleachers? Many coaches in recent years with all of the fold out bleachers have stopped using this exercise and it is really too bad. Running quickly up and down steps is one of the great exercises to jump higher. You are moving quickly, using the same muscles required to jump. It is not the same as running sprints on the floor, since when you run up the stairs you deeply work your upper thighs, the same muscles which help give you great leaping ability. If you have a safe place to run up stairs, add this to your exercise routine.
The next exercise which is great in improving your jumping ability requires some very strong boxes. These should either be constructed from wood, or you can buy progressive jumping blocks in many sporting goods stores. Having several different heights of blocks or boxes is beneficial. Start with your lowest box and leap up and down on to the box repetitively. Do at least 10 reps and then move to the next box. Leap from the floor onto the higher box for 10 jumps and then move to your highest box. By this time jumping may starting to become hard, you are going to have to focus your mental and physical energy. Leap onto the highest box as many times as you safely can. Now, progressively work back down the height of boxes. Jump on the next lowest box again for around 10 jumps, then down to the lowest box. Your goal is to jump to exhaustion. As you can, get progressively higher boxes. This exercise builds powerful and explosive legs and is used by top athletes in basketball, football, and wrestling.
If you want to really start building more powerful jumping you may need to hit the weights, but you need to do it a little different. Jumping is about explosiveness. You will want to workout with lower weights, and explode upward in the movement. Work to develop the explosive fast twitch muscles required for jumping high. There are two exercises you should focus on the squat and the toe raises.
While it may be tempting to use exercise machines, do not fall into the temptation. Use free weights for your squats and your toe raises. For the squats drop down into a sitting position with the weight resting on your shoulders and then explode back to a standing position. For the toe raises, place a board or stand under the balls of your feet, drop down to have a stretched calf muscle and then explode to the top of your foot extension. For the toe raises you can either hold the weights on your shoulders with a barbell, or hold dumbbells in your two hands.
By using these exercises to jump higher you increase the explosiveness in your legs. You will soon be out jumping your opponents and excelling on the court or field. Jumping higher is simply a matter of working harder than the other guy.