Below you will find a collection of some of the best plyometric exercises to help you improve your athletic power and explosion. I have used all of these in my training, and I can guarantee that these are some of the best for improving lower body power.
You can mix and match these into your own training plan if you wish. Just remember from the workout page that you don’t need to do these everyday. Give your body enough rest between training sessions.
Remember to stretch a bit before your workout. If you are working out for the first time in a while, take it easy with these exercises. You can easily hurt yourself with plyos if you’re not careful.
Upper body exercises can be found here.
Alternating Lunge Jumps
Alternating lunges are pretty tiring if you perform them at your max. These can really help build up your quadricep muscles and other very important jumping muscles. I would recommend doing these lunges at the beginning of your workout so you have the energy to perform them correctly.
To start your alternating lunge jumps exercise, begin in a kneeling position. One knee should be almost touching the ground while the other should be out in front of you. From this position, leap up into the air as high as you can and land in the kneeling position again. When you land you should alternate your leg positions so your other knee is now out in front of you (check out the video). Try to perform this exercise continuously without taking rests between jumps.
Be sure to stretch out your legs before performing this exercise. Alternating lunge jumps can put a lot of stress on the knee joints. If you’re not careful you could injure yourself and really put your training schedule on hold.
In the video for alternating lunges, the guy performing them uses a bar for added resistance. I would recommend this if regular lunges are too easy for you.
The concept behind this exercise is pretty simple. You’re basically using just your calves to boost you off the floor with as little knee movement as possible. Eliminating movement of the knee forces your calf muscles to take on more stress, thus causing growth. Also, you’ll be getting the lower half of your leg used to the explosive movements that you’ll use when you perform a regular jump.
Reps for ankle bounces should be in the 50-75 range since this is a pretty low intensity exercise. You can pair it with jump roping if you want to involve more parts of your body (mainly arms). When you do an ankle bounce, do not pause between each rep. Simply bounce up as high as you can as soon as you hit the floor. If you start to lose form and your knees start bending, just stop. Remember, quality is always better than quantity. Check out this video of the ankle jumps if you’re more of a visual person.
Plyometric box jump exercises are incredibly useful for building explosive strength and power in your lower body. One thing to keep in mind when you perform these exercises is that you should always make sure the box isn’t too high for you. If it is, you’re probably going to take some skin off of your shins or maybe even break something.
To perform this exercise, all you need to do is stand in front of the box and jump up on top of it. Remember to bend your knees, swing your arms up, and jump up as high as you can. Try to land smooth and controlled on top of the box.
After a bit of hard work, you’ll be able to leap like this guy!
Gray’s 60″ Plyometric Box Jump Exercise
Double Leg Seated Jump
This is great for improving explosive strength. This will help your body develop its ability to explode off the ground from a standstill.
To begin the double leg seated jump, find a chair or some other object that will allow you to sit with your thighs parallel to the ground. Once you’re in the sitting position, simply leap up as high as you can and land on two feet. Repeat the motion about 10 times.
You can also jump up on to another object to make the exercise more difficult. This is demonstrated in the video below.
High Box Depth Jumps
High box depth jumps are another example of combination plyometric exercises. This one is obviously a combination of depth jumps and box jumps. These kinds of exercises give you a tougher workout and add a little more variation to help avoid the mundane. It’s always good to look for new exercises (or make up your own) when your workout starts to get a little boring. Anyway, on to high box depth jumps.
To begin this exercise, find a box that is at least 18 inches high. Your starting position will be on top of the box. Once you’re standing on top, step off and immediately jump out as far as you can. This is similar to the standard depth jump, but with a little more of the added shock resistance training. You are priming your body for the impact it will take each time you jump during a game. The depth jump will help with your horizontal movement and explosiveness.
That’s about it for high box depth jumps. My only piece of advice is just to make sure that your box isn’t too high. Using one that is too high can cause problems with the bones in your feet along with possible joint problems in your legs. Just test out different heights before you really start getting high repetitions going.
Multiple Box Jumps
Multiple box jumps are very good at helping athletes increase their explosiveness and endurance at the same time. This exercise can be done by just about anyone, and are a great addition to any vertical jump workout.
To begin multiple box jumps, you will need several boxes that should be lined up in order of increasing height. (I would highly recommend purchasing a set of plyometric boxes if you don’t have some. These are great training aids that can be used for many different exercises.) Space the boxes about two to three feet apart. There should be enough room for you to comfortably land in between the boxes, which I’ll explain in a second.
Once you have the boxes set, stand so that you are looking down the row of boxes. Jump up on to the first, lowest box, and then jump straight off of it so that you land just in front of the next box. Jump up on to the next box and repeat the motion until you have jumped up on to the last, tallest box.
You can check out the video below if this doesn’t make sense. The video has a young kid demonstrating the exercise. Proof that anyone of any age can do multiple box jumps!
Multiple Box Jumps Video
Rim jumps are often used by basketball players as a more advanced plyometric exercise. A basketball rim touch is a great measure of your vertical jump ability. The rim jump is used to build power and endurance in the lower legs. If you want to do rim jumps properly, you should be able to touch a 10 foot rim somewhat easily. Training on something lower, especially if you’re a basketball player, will fail to train you for the real game. Train to touch 9 feet, and you’ll stay at 9 feet. Always go for the absolute maximum effort that your sport will require in the real game situation. If you can’t touch the rim yet, try using ankle bounces instead.
Now that I’ve gone through my little spiel, let’s get started. Rim jumps are actually pretty easy. All you need to do is stand under the rim and repeatedly jump up and touch it. Don’t take any rests between jumps, just explode back up. Also, try not to bend your knees too much if you can.
The scissor jump is a great exercise to use if you’re trying to increase leg flexibility and strength. You can even use this movement as a warmup before your main workout.
To begin the scissor jump exercise, stand with one leg out in front of you and the other leg extended a bit behind you. Kneel down into a lunge position and follow this by jumping up into the air as high as you can. Before you land, switch your leg position and repeat the motion. Check out the video for a better idea of what to do.
Be sure to stretch your knee joints a bit before doing this so you don’t have any problems with pain. This is especially true if you’re tall like me.
Scissor Jump Video
Single Leg Bounding
Single leg bounding will greatly increase the strength and stamina of every muscle in your legs. This exercise is a good alternative to the triple jump. The triple jump requires a running start, while single leg bounding can be done from a standstill. Be sure to stretch out your calves and upper leg areas before beginning this exercise. Also, make sure your ankles are supported adequately by your shoes (or a brace).
To begin single leg bounding, balance on one foot at a predetermined starting line. Usually single leg bounding is done over a set distance like 5, 10, or 15 yards. Once you’ve found your balance, start hopping on one leg as fast as possible. This exercise is pretty tiring so just try to complete a couple trips from start to finish.
If you want to switch things up a bit you can try single leg bounding from a sprint. This is quite a bit more difficult if you haven’t had much training experience, but you can still give it a try.
Single Leg Seated Jump
The single leg seated jump is great for developing the strength and power needed for a single-foot takeoff. If you’ve been looking for a way to increase your vertical jump off of one leg, then this is it. This exercise will also help improve your overall vertical leap.
To begin the single leg seated jump, find a chair or other object that allows you to sit with your legs at about a 90 degree angle. From the sitting position, jump up into the air as high as you can using only one leg. Repeat the exercise 10-15 times.
This can be a bit difficult at first, but it will come over time. The single leg seated jump is also helpful for developing the one leg squat.
Standing Broad Jump
The standing broad jump is a great way to increase overall leg strength. It is also a great way to measure your explosiveness. Think of the standing broad jump as a horizontal jump test. If you want to know how Michael Jordan got his insane ability to take off from the free throw line, check out this exercise.
The standing broad jump is pretty easy to perform. Begin by making a line on the ground in front of you. Extend a measuring tape straight out from the line that you have made on the ground. You’ll use this to measure your standing broad jump.
Once you’ve got your line and your measuring tape all set up, stand with your toes right at the line. Swing your arms a little bit to get some momentum and then squat down a bit and jump forward as hard as you can. Swinging your arms will help you get your entire body involved in the motion. This will also allow you to see what your absolute maximum standing broad jump measurement is.
Try to land in one spot and stay there. Measure the distance that you jumped with the measuring tape. A lot of people use the back of the heel as the measuring point for your broad jump.
Zig Zag Hops
Zig zag hops are very useful for building lateral quickness and lower leg strength. They will also increase the strength of your ankles, thus reducing the possibility for injury. This is not a real difficult exercise, so just about anyone can do them.
To begin zig zag hops, make two parallel lines on the ground that will run straight out in front of you. The lines should be about 20-40 feet long. The distance between them doesn’t matter much, but try to aim for somewhere between 2-5 feet. Once you have the lines drawn, stand on the end of one line so that it is extending out in front of you. You will be jumping forward, but with each jump you will hop sideways a bit so that you can land on the other line.
Check out the video of zig zag hops below.