Box jumps are a quintessential plyometric movement that stands as the true test of one’s lower body strength. Not only do the box jumps require significant leg strength, but also an explosive power done in a vertical leap that makes the whole movement smooth and dynamic.
We dedicate this article to discussing the fundamentals of box jumps and how you can gain leverage for better sports performance, lower body strength, and better posture and form for other jumping exercises. Consider this your ultimate guide for The Box Jump!
This Ultimate Guide Will Cover:
- How To Do A Box Jump
- Box Jump Benefits
- Common Box Jump Mistakes To Avoid
- Box Jump Muscles Worked
- Box Jump vs Jump Squats
- Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, & Programs
- Box Jump Variations
- Box Jump Alternative Exercises
- FAQs About Box Jump
How To Do A Box Jump
What You’ll Need:
- Plyometric box: Plyo boxes come in wood or foam material. If you are a beginner, you could look for a plyo box with adjustable height settings. If you have experience with box jumps, choose at least 16 inches of box height for women and at least 20 inches for men.
- Elevated surface: Ply boxes are expensive with budget and space. If you do not have the means for boxes, you can consider any higher platform that will accommodate the length of your feet and some more. Just do not settle for narrow stairs that are risky to use.
Step 1: Prepare Your Takeoff Stance
Stand approximately 6 inches away from the box with a hip-width level to “stack” your hips, knees, and ankles. A good rule of thumb is to position your feet closer than your typical back squat stance. This makes sure you will land softly with good balance.
Step 2: Hing the Hips and Takeoff
Swing your arms backward as you hinge your hips. Use both feet to jump off the floor at the same time and land on the top of the box softly and not with a thud. Remember to jump as high as you can and use both legs to land simultaneously. Make sure to bend your knee as you jump off to create a soft landing rather than maintaining a straight position, which could cause a strong impact on your soles.
Step 3: Stand Straight At The Top
As you reach the top of the box, aim to float over the box so you can land softly and brace for impact. Ensure to align your toes with your knees to keep tension on your quads instead of the joints. Then, stand properly with your spine straight and your legs strong to achieve a full hip and knee extension. This counts as one rep.
Step 4: Descend One Leg at a Time
To go down from the box, do so with one foot at a time. Remember to use your quad muscles to alight from the box to not cause discomfort on your knees. Avoid jumping off backward as this could cause serious injury. Learn more about the common mistakes on box jumps in another section.
3 Box Jump Benefits
1. Enhanced Force Production
Having a steady rate of force production; more so increasing it through box jumps, is a key factor in athleticism. Be it CrossFit, gymnastics, rugby, martial arts, basketball, and other sports, box jumps can pave the way to develop explosive power, which can be carried on over to other jumping exercises.
2. Improved Kinesthesia
Kinesthesia (also known as proprioception) is the ability of the body to sense movement, action, and location. The simple act of jumping on a box and arriving on the landing with a smooth motion creates more mind-muscle connection, a key aspect in every form of exercise there is.
3. Increased Power on Hips and Knees
As the box jump makes significant use of the knees and hips, expect increased strengths in these areas especially involving the hips and knees extensions that drive your body mass forward.
Box Jumps Muscles Worked
During the takeoff jump, the hamstrings support the knees in extending while the quadriceps provide the same level of power as the hamstrings to successfully propel the lifter’s body upward. Once on the landing, the glutes are primarily responsible for pushing the hips forward to achieve a proper extension. It also stacks the hamstrings and quadriceps in standing straight.
You would also feel significant effort on your calves from repetitive explosive movements when performing the box jump. The calves assist in ankle plantar flexion so you can tilt your feet as you jump with two feet at the same time. The calves also support the feet at the top of the movement and absorb excessive shock coming from the quads and hamstrings.
Box Jumps vs Jump Squats
A proper box jump works on the hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves by aiming to jump onto a box with a quarter squat. A jump squat is different from a box jump in a way that it starts and ends in the same spot. Both can be performed using weights such as dumbbells or a barbell. However, keep in mind that the heavier the load, the less explosive the movement becomes.
Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, and Programs
As a Jumping Technique
Performing box jumps frequently and correctly leads to more explosive movements and enhances jumping skills. To improve your technique, perform three to five reps for three to four sets on a low box. When you incorporate box jumps on a lower landing, you can achieve more repetitions without wearing out your legs easily. Rest for 2 minutes between each set.
For Improved Power
To make your landing more explosive, consider jumping on a higher box for one to three repetitions for three to five sets. No need to start off with a high number as long as you increase the box height over what you typically use. Even better, you could choose a taller box with the same height as your hips. This will challenge you to have more control over your body weight. Feel free to extend your rest from 2 to 3 minutes between each set.
For Muscle Endurance
You have better success with muscle memory, and endurance with box jumps by cranking up the training volume. Do 10 to 20 repetitions for two to three sets with a rest window of 60 to 90 seconds in between. Start on a low box if necessary to avoid straining your joints over more repetitions.
Box Jump Variations
Once you have mastered how to perform box jumps with maximum effort, you can take your jumping skills to another level and try out these variations on your next plyometric exercise.
Seated Box Jump
This variation holds plenty of power in the concentric phase. Since you are starting off from a seated position, this variation is devoid of takeoff preparation which can be done in the classic standing box jump. This exercise also focuses on lower body power and force generation.
Single-Leg Box Jump
The single-leg box jump variation can improve your athletic performance while achieving more explosive movements. This can support other leg-dominant exercises such as swimming or sprinting, letting you beat your personal records with more power on your lower extremities.
Depth Drop to Box Jump
Limiting contact between your feet and the floor and immediately jumping on a box cuts the load-up time by a huge percentage and forces your lower body to propel sufficient energy to take off while creating a soft landing.
Weighted Box Jumps
You can take your box jumps up a notch by holding dumbbells in each hand or wearing a weighted vest. This forces you to exert more effort and execute the right combination of balance and coordination to make a safe landing on the box.
Box Jump Alternatives
If box jumps are not always accessible in your local gym, give these Alternatives a try. They work on the same muscle groups and provide almost the same benefits for your increased performance in training.
This alternative to box jumps makes greater use of leg activation, targeting the quads, hamstrings, and calves altogether. It releases greater power output as you jump off and land on the exact same spot. In strength training, this could level up your squatting skills and enable you to lift heavier loads progressively.
Lunges require significant engagement from the quads and hamstrings, whether done in a weighted or bodyweight fashion. As it enables you to build strength in your legs, glutes, and even the abs, it improves your posture and increases your range of motion.
Trap Bar Deadlift
This alternative may be far off from actual box jumps, but you might be surprised by the fact that they involve similar muscles in their respective movements. For instance, the Trap Bar Deadlift incorporates the hamstrings, glutes, and the back during the movement. It puts less stress on the lumbar spine while placing significant work on the leg muscles.