Barbell squats can improve your jumping ability.
Jumping ability is obviously a key to basketball success, but it's also important for many other athletes, including football and soccer players, as well as track and field jumpers. Weight training can build the muscles you need to jump higher and farther. Although you jump primarily with your legs, don't ignore your core and upper-body muscles, which also play roles when you jump.
Standard Weight Training
If there's one go-to exercise to improve your jumping, it's the squat, which targets your quadriceps and gluteus maximus muscles. Perform a low-rep, high-weight version with a barbell across the back of your shoulders. Barbell or dumbbell lunges also target your quads and glutes. Hold a pair of dumbbells while performing calf raises to strengthen the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles in your calves. Do straight-leg deadlifts to target your hamstrings.
Plyometric Weight Training
Plyometric training is also a must for building the explosive power you need to defy gravity. Most plyometric exercises are performed without weights, but you can do barbell or dumbbell squat jumps to combine weight training with plyometrics. Begin as you would for a standard squat, with a barbell across the back of your shoulders, or a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing your body. Squat as you normally would if you're holding dumbbells -- don't squat quite as deeply as normal when you do barbell jump squats -- then jump straight up as explosively as you can without locking your knees.
The barbell power clean -- in which you lift the bar from a squatting to an upright position -- is a total-body exercise, so you'll strengthen your upper body while you also hit the quads, hamstrings, glutes and core muscles that contribute much of your jumping power. The barbell push press provides similar results. The lat pulldown and the bench press can also be part of an upper-body routine to help increase your jumping ability.
Exercises for Horizontal Jumpers
Horizontal jumpers -- including track and field athletes such as long jumpers and triple jumpers -- can perform many of the same exercises as athletes trying to improve their vertical jumps. Exercises such as jump squats and cleans are just as helpful for horizontal jumpers as they are for other athletes. Additionally, University of California-Riverside track coach Ed Luna recommends that horizontal jumpers perform stepups and heel raises while holding a pair of dumbbells. He also advocates leg curls and extensions to target your hamstrings and quads, respectively. Do progressively more challenging sets of the latter two exercises, lifting 40, 60 and 80 percent of your one-rep maximum weight.