Want to jump higher? Squat lower.

Quarter squats -- in which you bend your knees only halfway to parallel -- may naturally seem like a better way to build strength for jumping. After all, you only do a little dip before a jump, right?

But deep squats -- where your thighs are below parallel -- are better when it comes to improving your vertical, according to a new study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.

The findings match what many fitness professionals are seeing in their athletes, says Gary Ditsch, M.S., C.S.C.S., lead exercise physiologist at Retrofit.

How do full squats improve your vert? "When you are coming out of the bottom of a full range-of-motion squat, you are already accelerating the body upward," says Maryland trainer Jonathan Ross. "Since the range-of-motion on a full squat is deeper than the shallow, quick squat used to start a jump, it does a better job of training the upward acceleration required to jump higher."

A lot of men have a hard time performing a full squat, though. One clue you're not ready for it: Your heels lift off the ground as you lower down. The main culprit: Ankle mobility. Resist the urge to prop your heels up on weight plates. That might help you complete the movement, but doesn’t address the underlying issue, Ditsch says.

Instead, start with box squats to build your strength and flexibility. Start by sitting with your butt at the edge of a box or bench. Now drive through your heels to stand up. When you lower down, focus on driving your hips back and down and letting your knees follow, Ross says. Touch the bench, then raise up. (For more fast fitness fixes, check out the 100 Best Fitness Tips of All Time!)

Mastered that? Then watch the video below to see trainer David Jack, star of The New Spartacus Workout, now on DVD, demonstrate how to perform the squat with perfect form.

Looking to finally get in shape this year? Follow these 30 Tips to Drop 20 Pounds and make 2013 your best year ever!

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What was a one-game phenomenon for LeBron James last year has turned into somewhat of a regular occurence.

The reigning NBA MVP said this week he has ridden his bike to several games this year, including to Saturday's game against the Washington Wizards.

In January James created somewhat of a stir when he rode his bike to a game against the Chicago Bulls. But that was because traffic was backed up due to the Miami Marathon.

These days, James is riding to and from games for other reasons.

"I want to get better," James said. "I want to maximize everything I can and not waste an opportunity each and every day to compete and to get better as a player. I want to be the best and I got to push the button sometimes."

Last Saturday, James said he rode to and from American Airlines Arena twice: Once for the morning shootaround, and then later for the contest against the Wizards.

If James was weary during the gamem he didn't show it. He scored 23 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out five assists.

In fact, James' biking may be contributing to his increased stamina on the court. On Tuesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, James played 42 minutes but never showed any signs of fatigue.

"He wasn't even breathing heavy," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He's been biking so much on his own. He biked to the game the other day. He's turning the corner right now in terms of his conditioning. It's world class, his conditioning."

James even does the 45-minute ride home after games when it's dark out. But don't fret, Heat fans, James has lights on his bike.

"Everybody was a little worried," Dwyane Wade said. "But he's a grown man. So it's fine."

(H/T to Game On!)

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"No other exercise will work your legs as hard as the pistol squat," says Rachel Cosgrove, C.S.C.S., creator of the legendary Spartacus Workout series. (The new Spartacus workout is now on DVD! Click here to try it today!)

If you haven't heard of it, picture a one-legged squat to the floor in which your non-working leg is held straight out in front of you. Brutal. In fact, this simple movement takes an enormous amount of strength, flexibility, and balance -- which is why many guys have a hard time doing even one properly. Watch the video below to learn how to perform the pistol squat with perfect form:

But Cosgrove has a cool trick to help you balance so that you can reap the strength-building benefits of this amazing exercise: hold a weight at chest height with your arms extended. It will counter your bodyweight, helping you balance as you lower your body. "Think of it like a teeter totter," Cosgrove says. "As you squat and sit your hips down and back, your body wants to fall backward. Having the weight in front of you will keep you upright."
 
The straighter your arms, the more counterbalance you have. As you become more comfortable, bend your arms and hold the weight close to your chest to make the squat harder. And if you can't go all the way to floor at first, lower as far as you can, pause for two seconds, then push your body back to the standing position. Increase your range of motion as your strength improves.

For a fast-paced plan that will give you the body of a warrior, check out The NEW Spartacus Workout from Men's Health -- now on DVD!

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By DualFit.com

Learning how to jump higher offers many advantages. Whether you play basketball, volleyball, tennis or any other sport that requires jumping, there are a variety of ways you can learn to improve your jumping range.

When you practice the right kind of strength-training, you will eventually build muscle power during your workouts. As a result, you'll be able to jump a lot higher.

The key to jumping higher is to practice. One of the most important things to do is to exercise your leg muscles as much as possible. There are a variety of exercises that will help improve your leg muscles. Squats are considered an easy and fast way, especially if you're a beginner. Here are six helpful steps to doing squats:

1. Gently place a barbell over your shoulder area. Hold the barbell on either side of your shoulders with a firm grip. Avoid lifting more than 75 percent of your body weight. This technique shouldn’t trigger any kind of excessive fatigue or back pain. If you feel excessive strain, simply reduce your load before you begin your squat exercises.

2. Line up your knees and toes. Avoid pointing your feet in an outward (or inward) position because it can cause unnecessary strain.

3. Squat to the ground while bending your knees. As you’re squatting, position your body as if you're about to sit in a chair. Make sure you’re only bending your knees and keep your back straight.

4. Hold your body in the squat position for approximately six seconds.

5. Stand up straight with your knees. Then hold this position for about six seconds.

6. Repeat steps 1-5 for 25 reps on a daily basis. Feel free to increase the amount of reps. Many athletes love to use this method because it is a very easy way of building up your leg muscles without straining your muscles.

Once you have mastered this exercise technique, you will begin to improve your jumping levels and speed.

More From DualFit.com:
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