Three Easy Ways to Improve Your Vertical

How do guys in the NBA playoffs score chicks like Eva Longoria? Mad hops. So follow these steps and get some!

The NBA playoffs are officially underway, and few players are as capable of carrying a team to the finals as Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic. At 6’11” and just 22-years-old, the league’s reigning slam dunk champion is a physical specimen, to say the least. But it didn’t come without work: “In high school I couldn’t get more than three inches off the ground. My ups are trained,” says Howard. So stop ignoring your gams at the gym, and follow our guide to truly jacked legs—maybe you, too, can touch the sky.

Quadriceps: Lunge

Beginner: Take a large step (three feet) forward, plant your front foot, and lower your back knee to about an inch from the ground. Push back up to a standing position, switch legs, and repeat, whilesimultaneously not falling on your ass.

Try: Four sets of 10 per leg

Intermediate: Throw that lunge into reverse. Grab a medicine ball or dumbbells and take a big step backward, this time dropping the knee of the stepping leg. Drive that knee forward to stand again, switch legs, and repeat.

Try: Four sets of 12 per leg

Advanced: Holding dumbbells at your sides, place the sole of one foot on a stability ball or bench behind you. Slowly lower front leg to form 90-degree angles with each knee. This ain’t called the Bulgarian split squat for nothing.

Try: Four sets of 10 per leg

Gastrocnemius: Donkey Calf Raise

Beginner: Stand bent-over next to a railing, holding it for support. With legs straight and back flat, contract calves to rise up on your toes. Count two to lift, four to lower, and repeat. Yeah, it looks like it sounds.

Try: Four sets of 10

Intermediate: From same position, but with a step under the balls of your feet, cross your left foot behind your right ankle, slowly lower your right heel toward the floor, then rise up as high as possible.

Try: Four sets of 12 per leg

Advanced: Do either of the first two exercises with extra resistance, such as a dip belt, weight plates, or someone on your back. Preferably a gorgeous, spandex-clad gym girl who digs guys with exploding calves.

Try: Five sets of 10

Hamstrings, Glutes: Stability Ball Bridge

Beginner: Lie on your back with your lower legs on a stability ball. Contracting your abs and glutes, press your legs into the ball to lift your hips until your body forms a straight line. Hold for three seconds, lower down, and repeat. Enjoy humping the air.

Try: Three to four sets of 15

Intermediate: From the hips-up position, bend your knees to bring them toward your chest while rolling the ball to the soles of your feet. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat. Now, isn’t this more fun than regular hamstring curls?

Try: Four sets of 12

Advanced: This time, once your hips are up, point one leg straight up. Keep your lower back firm as you curl the ball with your other leg. Do all reps with one leg, then switch—without letting your butt hit the ground.

Try: Four sets of 12

Need Inspiration? Here Are 3 of the Greatest In-Game Dunks.

Julius Erving

The godfather of dunk, “Dr. J” changes the game with one flying leap.

Michael Jordan

Knicks’ fans, brace your eyes. You know, that thing you’ve been doing all year.

Vince Carter

The guy in the white is Fredric Weis. He’s 7’2″. And the French wonder why we think we’re better than them?