Before getting started, I want to make one thing clear. Here, we’re training strength for explosiveness and vertical jump.
We’re NOT focused on bodybuilding.
(Your muscles are likely to grow in the process, but these are two different things)
With that in mind, this guideline is sure to help.
The Importance of Form
“Form” refers to how good your technique is when you do an exercise.
Its purpose is much more than making you look cool when doing an exercise.
Being lazy with your form can create bad habits in your body’s movement over time.
This can lead to slower progress in the future and possibly allowing injury to creep in.
For instance, if you let your knee cave in during lunges (instead of it being aligned with your hip and ankle), this could cause knee pain down the line or an injury whilst playing a game.
If bad form is still a problem for you, even when trying your best with technique, this could be due to a lack of mobility.
Meanwhile, practicing good form will help maximise your progress, building a base for the future when exercises get harder.
It will also build healthy muscle memory.
This will help to prepare your body for the constant production and acceptance of force that exists in basketball.
Master your Bodyweight
In most sports (like basketball) all your movements: jumping, running, accelerating, decelerating… are with your bodyweight.
That’s why it’s almost crazy to begin lifting weights for exercises that aren’t even mastered without weights first.
Mastering exercises with your bodyweight will build a base for weightlifting without the risk of injury.
Also, it will greatly increase your awareness of correct form.
For example, why pump out five bad reps of a heavy squat if you can’t even do a proper squat with your own weight…
Doesn’t sound right does it?
Also, MANY people overlook the possibility of making gains in leg strength through bodyweight exercises.
Often, when an exercise gets too easy, one can make it harder through increasing the duration/reps, or increase the difficulty in other ways.
(e.g. doing a one leg squat instead of using both legs)
A Disciplined approach to Weightlifting
Despite this, (when you’re ready) it’s more effective to lift weights when trying to develop explosive strength.
Yes, increasing the weight on an exercise feels great.
But, you MUST stay disciplined if you really want to improve.
Before increasing the weight, make sure you can do the exercise with:
- Your body in balance
- full control of the weight.
Two staple exercises are the deep squat and the deadlift.
These are compound movements that use large muscle groups within the lower body.
Plus, they partly mimic movements that frequently occur in basketball.
Performing these exercises with good form and increasing the weight over time is very effective for gaining strength.
However, adding weight training for muscles which you feel may be holding you back (e.g. leg curls for hamstrings) is beneficial too.
Deep squat vs Partial squat
The age old debate…
A deep squat (thighs parallel to the floor or deeper) or a partial squat (anything less deep)?
But remember, we’re focused on strength for explosiveness and vertical jump.
So, as a beginner, doing a deep squat with your legs parallel to the floor is best.
This will help you master the movement and reduce the risk of injury, whilst also improving strength.
However, as you improve, you will need to move onto higher weights, smaller sets and eventually:
Think about it… when you jump in basketball, you never squat that deep.
It’s only ever a partial bend in the knees.
Also, partial squats allow you to lift heavier weights.
As a result, partial squats will lead to strength for explosiveness which translates better to basketball and vertical jump.
Exercises summary: a recap
Here’s a quick recap of the exercises to use in your strength training:
- The squat: A compound movement exercise that trains muscle groups used for jumping
- The deadlift: Another compound movement exercise which also trains muscle groups used for jumping
- Supplementary exercises: Once you identify a weak muscle/want to choose a specific muscle to train these can be used (for example, calf raises for the calf muscle or leg curls for the hamstrings)
These exercises are by no means the law on strength training workouts for vertical jump.
However, it serves as a guide that will lead you towards progress.
Remember that explosiveness can’t happen overnight.
But, consistent training will get you the results you desire.
Pairing the strength training discussed here with plyometrics is a great way to make some MAJOR gains.
(Usually it’s best to do plyometrics before strength training in a workout.
Plyometrics focuses on explosive movements, so you don’t wanna be doing it with fatigued muscles)