Exercise Tip of the Week: Box Jumps

Box jumps have been around for decades as one of the staple plyometric exercises in training. Whether you’re an athlete or a general health enthusiast, box jumps have a tremendous impact on your explosiveness and ability to generate power through your lower half. Both things will pay huge dividends in your exercise routine.

There’s one big problem…

Box jumps may be one of the most botched exercises out there.

boxjumpfail1

I could watch these all day.

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I see it every day, multiple times a day. I’ve been guilty of it myself plenty of times, but over the years I’ve corrected my own mistakes and talked to some great strength & conditioning coaches that were able to show me how to properly do, instruct and program an effective box jump.

First, let’s talk about what a box jump IS NOT.

  • A box jump is not cardio
  • A box jump is not a “more is better” exercise
  • A box jump is not a “faster is better” exercise
  • A box jump is not supposed to be heavily loaded

Here are a few common mistakes that a lot of people make on their box jumps.

 

Hey you… yeah, you! The guy doing 1-minute intervals of rapid fire box jumps on a 36-inch box that you can barely get your toes on… STOP!

It’s not safe or effective to perform box jumps like that. That is everything a box jump is not.

So, what IS a box jump?

  • A box jump is a great way to activate your central nervous system
  • A box jump is a great way to increase your explosiveness and power
  • A box jump is a low-impact exercise
  • A box jump is a bodyweight exercise
  • A box jump is an opportunity to achieve triple extension (ankles, knees and hips) and jump as high as possible without having to absorb the full impact of max-height jump (this is because you land on a box, instead of returning all the way down to the ground).
  • A box jump, when done correctly, will make you a better athlete

Below are some examples of what I consider to be good form. All have slight variations, so I’ve slowed the videos down and added a few notes.

Personally, I use box jumps as a part of my dynamic warm up. One coaching cue that has stuck with me is that “a box jump can potentiate the nervous system,” and that is how I prefer to use them.

With explosive, short bursts of power (like box jumps) I can give my nervous system a wake-up call. This will activate the rest of my body to be ready to handle increased amounts of weight throughout the duration of the workout. Technically, a box jump won’t build much new muscle for you, but when you use them to prime your body for an intense workout, that’s where the muscle magic happens.

As a part of your training program, box jumps can help you generate more power and explosiveness, which will allow you to become stronger, faster and bring you to new levels of badassness. Is that a word?


Here are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to box jumps

DON’T

  • Rebound (rapidly jump up and down the box)
  • Land with your knees caving in
  • Use a box that you can’t land safely on
  • Stomp your feet when you land
  • Add weight
  • Land in a deep squat

DO

  • Fully extend at the ankles, knees and hips
  • Use your arms and core for power and stability
  • Land in the same position you jumped from
  • Land soft and stealth (like a ninja)
  • Step down from the box, reset and repeat

Hopefully these tips help you the next time you go to perform box jumps. These simple tweaks can help you avoid a torn Achilles, torn ACL and countless bloody, scraped shins – all extremely common in bad box jumps.

Remember, you want to generate power with each rep. Keep the reps at 6 or below (per set) so you can explode on each jump. Inability to use your explosiveness due to fatigue will lead to poor mechanics and injury, so take your time and be precise with the jumps! Now go crush it!