Just how important is having a strong core when it comes to the vertical jump?
How much time should you spend working on those abs if your primary motivation is a higher vertical jump?
Having a strong core is vital to the vertical jump as it helps stabilize the body which allows for the efficient transferal of force.
In the rest of this article, we’re going to first take a look at the best core exercises for your vertical jump, and then we’ll go over the research about core training as it pertains to the vertical jump.
6 Best Core Exercises For Vertical Jump
Before we begin, just remember that if you’re doing lots of squats/deadlifts/GHRs/etc, you’re already getting a half decent core workout in.
While including the additional exercises will benefit your vertical, you don’t have to do a crazy amount of core work per week to reap the benefits.
We’ll discuss a little more about volume and frequency later.
These core exercises were selected specifically for their carryover to the vertical jump.
1. Med Ball Wall Slams
This exercise is a dynamic power movement aimed at primarily improving your rate of force development.
It’ll not only strengthen your abs and obliques but it’ll help them become more explosive as well.
The objective here is to essentially rugby pass a medicine ball into the wall as powerfully as possible.
2. Reverse Squats
The reverse squat is one of my all time favorite core exercises.
It works both your hip flexors as well as your lower abs.
This movement is pretty simple – you’re essentially just driving your knees up to your chest while holding onto a pole or something sturdy behind you to keep yourself secure.
You’ll need access to a cable machine for these, and a reverse squat strap will make life a whole lot easier as well.
I recommend TheTibBarGuy’s reverse squat strap which works phenomenally well and is only $20.
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Unfortunately most gyms won’t have any particularly good cable attachments for this exercise, which is why I invested in a strap.
3. Reverse Planks
When thinking about the vertical jump, the whole purpose of training your core is to maintain rigidity through the abdomen so that your upper body is as stable as possible.
If your abdomen is relaxed and floppy when you come into your jump plant sequence, you’re going to ‘leak’ a massive amount of energy.
Reverse planks are a great way to ensure our upper body is completely stable throughout the jumping movement.
You don’t have to do the weighted version to begin with, but that’s definitely something to work towards.
Supermans are another great movement for hitting the trunk.
When we think of the core, we tend to think of the abs, but it includes the muscles on the back of our spine as well.
Your lower back plays a fairly important role during hip extension, so it’s really important we give this area some attention.
These are super simple to do – simply raise your arms and legs off the ground (so that you look like Superman) and hold for a few seconds.
5. Dead Bugs
These are another great exercise for jumpers.
I’ve had these prescribed to me by several strength coaches over the years and they’re a great unilateral core movement.
The idea is to lie on your back with your arms up and knees as 90 degree angles (looks kind of like a dead bug).
Your objective is to extend one leg out as well as the opposite arm (contralateral limb raise) while keeping your lower back firmly on the floor.
Another favorite movement of mine is the woodchop, which we’re using to develop strength in the obliques.
Standing at a 45 degree angle, slowly pull the cable across your body, engaging your core from start to finish.
Not amazingly jump specific, but an exercise I’ve personally had a ton of success with.
Does A Strong Core Make You Jump Higher?
The simple answer is yes, obviously core plays a large role in the vertical jump.
Having core strength plays a massive role in almost any athletic endeavor.
When we’re jumping, the goal is to transfer force from our hips to our toes as efficiently as possible.
Having a stable core is only going to facilitate the efficient transferal of force throughout triple extension.
What Does The Research Say?
A fairly recent study looked at 40 state level volleyballers who were given a nine week core training program in the hopes of improving their block jump.
Other research with very young children confirmed a vertical jump improvement after core stability training, but it’s hard to say how much of those results came from general growth and development or from the core program.2https://www.researchgate.net/publication/316856330_Core_Stability_Training_and_Jump_Performance_in_Young_Basketball_Players
There’s not a ton of research on this subject, unfortunately, but I think the logical conclusion is that a strong core is only going to be beneficial for your jump.
How Much Core Work To Improve Vertical Jump?
So should we be training abs every day?
Aren’t we going to get enough core stimulation from all the various jumping and squatting we’re doing?
At the end of the day, it’s going to be pretty difficult to have too much core strength or size.
For many athletes, particularly younger basketballers and volleyballers who are still growing and in their ‘baby giraffe phase’, their lack of core development may be quite apparent and a pretty common issue.
This is why I believe it’s imperative most younger athletes are doing some core specific training at least a couple times a week.
Trunk instability will hold you back from jumping your highest and from being as athletic as you want to be.
By spending time on your core, you’ll also be improving your balance and coordination.
Your lifts will also increase because you’ll be more deliberate with every movement.
To be completely honest, which core exercises you decide to do isn’t overly important.
Most core exercises are going to have a relatively low correlation to your vertical jump.
The key is to ensure you’re hitting all aspects of your core: abs, lateral abs, lower back, and hip flexors.
Pick a couple exercises you feel comfortable with and then every few weeks switch them out for some completely different ones.
Do your core work twice a week or so.
Having a strong core is required for any athletic movement, vertical jump included.
Once you’ve got your core sorted out, check out my list of the most important exercises for the vertical jump to get some other ideas!