The testing of the vertical leap is a common practice at draft combines for aspiring professional athletes. A few inches can separate a star athlete who is poised to go early in the draft from an athlete who will not get drafted. The common benchmark for an outstanding vertical leap is 40 inches. You can improve your vertical jump and get closer to 40 inches with a few common jump routines.
Do the cross skip. Grab some athletic tape and cut off two 4-foot slices. With the two slices, create a cross, so you have four even squares.
Place your right foot in the upper left quadrant while balancing the left foot. Set your stopwatch to 2 minutes. As soon as your stopwatch begins the countdown, immediately jump your right foot from the upper left quadrant to the lower right quadrant, then to the lower left quadrant, and finally the upper right quadrant. Continue the same pattern until 2 minutes expire.
Repeat the exercise with only your left leg. Finish the last set with both feet, repeating the same pattern.
Do this exercise five times a week, allowing rest on the weekends. Change the patterns each week if necessary. Continue for 6 months.
This exercise is terrific for lateral jumping and change of direction. It will improve your agility--a must for most sports like basketball and football.
Perform toe raises. Stand on the last of a set of stairs. Make sure the back half of your feet extends over the step and into the air.
Stand on your tiptoes. Slowly raise your feet from a horizontal, 90-degree angle to as far up as your toes will allow, to support your entire body's weight.
Continue this exercise for 15 reps. Repeat 5 days a week, with rest allocated for the weekends.
Increase reps by five each week. Continue for 6 months.
Practice tuck jumps. This exercise involves repeated jumping up and down. While in the air each time, extend your knees to your chest and grab them with your hands. Jump back into the air as soon as your toes hit the ground.
Start by doing 15 tuck jumps for 5 days a week. Rest on the weekend.
Expand your tuck jumps by five reps each week. Continue doing tuck jumps for 6 months.
Do chair raises. Place a chair facing directly in front of you. Stand firmly, keeping your feet shoulder-length apart. Raise your right leg to the chair until your foot rests on it. Extend upward until your right leg becomes straight again and you stand firm with both feet on top of the chair.
Immediately return to the ground with your left leg. Take your right leg off the chair and place it on the ground. Repeat the same pattern, only alternating your feet. For example, for the second rep, you will raise up with your left leg and not your right.
Alternate legs until you reach 30 reps. Do chair raises five times a week, allowing rest on the weekend. Increase by 10 reps each week for 6 months.
Work on the broad jump. Stand up straight, with your feet a few inches apart (about shoulder-width). Proceed to jump as high as possible, immediately springing back up into the air as soon as you come into contact with the ground.
Start out with 20 broad jumps for the first week. Do this exercise 5 days a week for 3 months. Increase your reps by 10 each week.
Work with weights (optional). The above exercise routine is designed to be performed without free weights. You can increase your vertical jump to 40 inches solely via this routine. However, some athletes prefer to use weights as well. If you do, assign 1 day a week for lifting and use the other 4 for the above routine. Rest on the weekends and drink 1 gallon of water each day you work out. Water helps increase muscle mass and strength.
When working with weights, never lift more than you can handle. Start out with very light weights and do a high amount of reps. Popular weightlifting exercises for legs include squats, the power clean and toe raises.