Core Workouts to Jump Higher, Part 2: Exercises

In Part 1, we looked at why athletes should do core exercises to jump higher. Now we look at some specifics.

Everyone knows how to get a strong core right? Crunches. No! If situps are so 1970s, crunches are so 1980s. Crunches aren’t that bad, but the world of core strengthening is so much broader. Here are some exercises to build that trunk stability you need to fly.

  • Planks are killer. They seem too easy. At first. The basic plank is to get in a pushup-like position, but on your elbows. So you come up on the toes and elbows, keep your body straight as a board and just hold the position. 60 seconds is a minimum. 2 minutes is good. Some athletes build to three sets of 4 minutes, which is pretty tough. A great variation is the side plank. In this case, either one hand or elbow is on the floor and the opposite shoulder is as high as possible. In other words, you’re sideways, facing the wall, again with a nice straight line from feet to navel to head.
    • One foot or one hand. Same as a basic plank, but lift either a foot or a hand off the ground.
    • Diagonal plank. In this case, lift both one arm and the opposite foot, so you have only one foot on the ground and one elbow, with the other arm against your side.
    • Ball plank. Both hands on the ground and one foot on a ball (stability ball, basketball, soccer ball, whatever). The other leg is extended to the side. Don’t let the free hip sag — keep nice level hips. This introduces a lot of instability and the core will work harder to counter that instability.
  • Spiders. Kadour Ziani’s favorite. This sort of super advanced plank. Lie on the ground face down. Stick your arms and legs out in an X (bigger or smaller depending on how strong you feel). Then lift your body off the ground, so you’re supported by just the hands and feet. As you get really strong, you can take one hand or foot off the ground and then two, so you just have one hand and one foot, both fairly far out from your body. I’m not there, but it would be cool!
  • Crunches. Of course. Old school, but still okay. The key though is to make sure you lift the shoulders and hips to the ceiling, not the head to the knees.
  • Superman. Like a reverse plank. Lie on your stomach and lift feet and shoulders off the ground with hands straight out front. You can hold a weight plate or medicine ball in your hands to get more out of it. Like planks, just hold for a minute or more.
  • Knee ups and leg lifts. This is an old classic but you have to be careful. Basically, you hang and lift your knees or feet up. In some gyms, you’ll have a special contraption with a back rest. All you really need is a chinup bar to hang from. In essence, you just hang and bring your knees as close to your chest as you can. If you’re strong, you can extend your legs out and lift your legs, but watch out! I see people doing exercises like this all the time where they let their low back arch. This is downright dangerous and it’s not even targeting the right muscles any more. Let’s face it, young males like to show off doing tough exercises, not sissy ones and they often sacrifice form for bigger weight. Do not do that! You want to keep strong tension on the abs to keep a straight or slight inward curve to your abs. If it goes the other way, with a slight inward curve to the back, bring the knees back in. If the knees are in, stop! You’ve reached your max number of reps. Do not do more reps (have I said that enough times?).

Be strong! Jump high!


  • "Préparation physique – l’oeil de Kadour Ziani,", 16 July, 2007.

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