You can be strong out on the court, but strength is nothing without speed. Training the explosiveness of your muscles can help you jump higher, change directions more quickly and stand up to charges. Here are five exercises constituting a full-body workout that will help your muscles store and release explosive energy when you need it most.
Although jump squats are well-known for their ability to increase your max vertical jump, jump lunges take the same principle and extend it over a more complete range of motion that boosts your sprints and decreases your risk of injury. Start in a forward lunge position, with one knee bent at 90 degrees in front of you and the other leg fully stretched out behind. Launch yourself into the air using your front leg—stabilizing yourself with your arms and back leg—and quickly switch legs at max height. Land softly with the leg that’s now in front first, then restabilize your body a moment later with the extended back leg. Practice these in sets of five jumps on each leg.
Double box jump
This exercise improves your jumping abilities, but it also incorporates movements that prepare you for the impact of landing a high jump. Set two jump boxes of the same height roughly four feet apart. Start standing on one of them, knees slightly bent. Jump off the platform, letting your knees and ankles bend slightly upon hitting the ground to absorb the impact, then use the force to launch yourself onto the other box. Perform this exercise sparingly, doing three to five reps per set at most.
Clean high pull
The clean high pull is an explosive, multi-joint barbell exercise that prepares basketball players for the motions of a pullup jumper. It’s popular with the CrossFit crowd. Start with holding the barbell against your quads, legs shoulder width apart, knees bent and back flat (push your butt out to help with this). To perform it, launch your hips forward while keeping your back and arms straight, lifting the bar. When your back is almost completely straight and the bar is raised to your hips, use the momentum of the bar to explosively lift it to your chin and allow yourself to go up on your toes. Ensure your back is straight and reverse the motion slowly to avoid injury. Perform in sets of five to eight, and use relatively light weight to avoid wrist complications.
Explosive push ups
An explosive variant of the classic push up works out the shoulders and triceps, improving your passing abilities, with the added benefit of putting greater emphasis on building core strength. Starting at the lowest position of a push up, tighten your core muscles and launch your chest off the ground using your arms, clapping or bringing your hands behind your back for extra challenge. When you land, keep your core muscles tight and arms slightly bent to absorb the impact. With a controlled movement, lower yourself slowly back to the starting position. Feel free to do these in sets of 20 to 30, but keep your rest time in between them down to a minute or two at most.