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December 12, 2021 8 min read

If you’re getting into fitness, especially bodyweight exercises, then it’s very likely that you’ve heard about the exercise known as box jumps. On top of that, you’ve likely seen some athletes or influencers jumping on top of boxes that are as high as 50 inches off the ground. This is certainly an impressive feat and it should be noted that this is really quite difficult to do!

In this article, we’ll give you an overview of the exercise, its benefits, and how you can start working your way up to a very impressive box jump.

Plyometric Training: What Is It? 

If you’ve heard of box jumps, then chances are you’ve heard the term “plyometric training” thrown around a couple of times. But what does the term even mean? And what kind of exercises are utilized in this type of training?

To put it simply, plyometric training, or jumping exercises, is when you rapidly load and unload your muscles. This will trigger something known as the stretch reflex, allowing your muscles to generate more force than they usually can.

Think of it as turning your muscles into a loaded spring.

The end goal of this type of training is to enhance the reflex of your muscles, ultimately allowing you to generate more power when you need it. This type of training is generally done with low reps because you need a lot of effort to do the exercises involved, but it can also be done with higher reps. However, that defeats the purpose and you’ll end up building muscle endurance over power. 

Box Jump Benefits

Before we talk about how to properly do a box jump, you must be wondering how jumping on top of a box can benefit you. Read on and you’ll see that box jumps really are one of the best exercises you can do. 

  • Total lower body workout. This exercise will work your glutes, hamstrings, quads, abductors, adductors, and calves in one swift motion. This makes it an excellent exercise for creating power and strength in your lower body. Additionally, you’ll find that this exercise will also require you to use your core and your arms. These are used to a lesser extent than your legs, as you’ll be engaging your core for the sake of balance and swinging your arms for momentum. You can even hold onto dumbbells for an extra challenge.
  • If you’re already an athlete who participates in any sort of sport, you’ll find that this exercise has a lot of good applications. You’ll definitely notice improved performance in just about any sport that you do once you start regularly adding this exercise to your routine. Box jumps will help to make you faster and stronger, both in the gym and during sports. Even if you’re not someone who's active in sports, you never know when the added athleticism from box jumps can come in handy! 
  • If you’re an athlete that participates in a sport where vertical jump height is really important, this is the perfect exercise for you. Since the exercise is essentially an explosive jump upwards, it’s perfect for that sort of training. Additionally, it won’t put as much stress on your joints and bones as other exercises that are meant to work on your vertical jump. 

Box Jump Form

As with every exercise, it’s important to know the proper form.

You don’t want to injure yourself because you don’t know how to properly do an exercise but before we get into the form of this exercise there are a few things you should know.

Start off with a box height of about 12 inches.

If you’re confident in the strength of your legs, you could start off with something higher, but remember to be careful. It cannot be stressed enough how important proper form is in this exercise, so make sure you’ve really nailed it before increasing the height of the box.

With that being said, let’s get into the steps for this exercise:

  1. Of course, you’ll first need to get the proper equipment for this exercise. Most gyms will have a plyo box or something similar. If your gym doesn’t have that, or you’re not working out at a gym you can always use an elevated, but flat and sturdy, elevated surface. A good park bench or sturdy chair will get the job done. 
  2. Once you're all set up, stand facing the box with your feet hip-width apart and about six inches away from the box. 
  3. Now, bend your knees until you're in a quarter squat position. Remember to press your hips back and also swing your arms behind you as you do this in one quick, fluid motion. 
  4. Now, it’s time to take-off! Push through the balls of your and jump straight into the air in an explosive movement. As you fully extend your knees, swing your arms up and forward, this will help you get as much height out of your jump as you can. 
  5. At the top of your jump, bend your knees and hips to bring your feet forward so you’ll actually be able to land on top of the box. 
  6. You’ll want to land with both feet at the same time. The balls of your feet should land first, followed by your heels. When you’re landing, it’s important to try and do this as softly as you can. Don’t be stiff, allow your knees and hips to bend in a natural way so it absorbs the shock of your landing. 
  7. Before you step back down, check to see if your feet are about hip-distance apart. If they are, then you’ve done everything right. 
  8. Step down from the box, return to your starting position, and repeat. 

Common Box Jump Mistakes

Box jumps are generally considered an advanced exercise. Because of this, there’s a lot of things that you might end up doing wrong. 

  • For starters, choosing a box that’s too high is one of the most common mistakes that people make when it comes to this exercise. Doing this is a good way to trip on the box, fall, scrape up your shins, or worse. Nothing can destroy your confidence faster than royally messing up and hurting yourself. As mentioned, beginners to this exercise should choose a lower box that’s between 12-24 inches in height. 
  • A key to preventing injury when doing this exercise is to make sure that you’re landing on the box correctly. Common mistakes when landing includes: Landing with one foot at a time, landing with your feet together, or having your knees cave in towards each other. If possible, perform the exercise in front of a mirror or record yourself doing it to see if you’re doing something wrong on the landing. 
  • Not fully extending the hips is another common mistake that beginners to this exercise will often commit. The whole point of this exercise is to build explosive power in your legs as well as give you a higher vertical jump. If you don’t bend your hips fully, you won't be doing it the right way and won't get the full benefits. 
  • Another thing people tend to do is do box jumps at the end of a workout or routine. Simply put, doing this exercise at the beginning of a workout after you warm up and have taken some pre-workout is a great way to get your legs primed and ready for heavier lifting. If your leg muscles are already tired out from an intense set of squats, then you won’t be able to perform well at this exercise. This will cause your form to suffer and you won’t see much improvement as you’ll be too tired to do the box jumps effectively. 

Box Jump Variations

    1. Step-Up


       

      The box jump can be a pretty intimidating exercise, especially for beginners. Luckily there is a variation that can help you work up to it. This variation of the box jump is known simply as a step-up. Because it’s a simpler version of the box jump, it doesn’t have the same benefits. Namely, you won’t be able to build up that explosive power that a box jump is so well-known for. Additionally, this exercise isn’t appropriate for helping you reach greater vertical jump heights.That being said, the step-up activates the same muscles groups as a box jump. So, it’s still a great idea to include this in your leg day routines to help build the necessary strength to graduate to box jumps. 

        2. Seated Box Jumps

           

          This variation of the box jump is much more difficult than the standard version. It might not seem like it, but starting from a seated position makes this a lot harder.   Your muscles will be working a lot harder than the standard box jump. The benefit of this variation is that you’ll learn how to go without the rapid pre-stretch that most polymetric exercises use. 

            3. Depth Box Jumps


               

              A variation of the box jump which involves stepping down from a raised platform, then jumping onto your box. The whole point of the exercise is to increase the amount of resistance that you experience when you actually jump up onto the box. This will make the exercise harder and cause you to push yourself and give you a much more effective exercise. There is one downside to this variation. The step down from the platform can be hard on your joints, so be careful and start with a platform that’s close to the ground at first. 

                4. Box Jump Burpees

                   

                  Want to turn this lower body exercise into a full-body one? Look no further than this variation of the box jump. This is a very difficult move but it’s excellent for conditioning. This variation is perfect if you’re looking for an exercise to really get your heart rate up during an intense cardio session. It also won’t hurt to use  SHREDDED-AF beforehand. 

                  Reasons You May Not Be Able To Do Box Jumps

                  Box jumps are certainly one of the harder movements to do, even for some advanced athletes. Therefore, you might not be surprised to find that you can’t do box jumps yet. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t get the hang of it at first. Below will give you some reasons that you might not be able to do a box jump yet and what you can do to work up to them! 

                  1. Box jumps can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never done them before. You might not be confident in your abilities yet and that underconfidence can cause you to fail at first. The best thing you can do in this situation is to lower the box, even if it’s just a few inches off the ground. Building up confidence in your technique is crucial to performing a successful box jump. 
                  2. Another reason you might not be able to do a box jump is that your calves aren’t strong enough yet. That’s right, all those times you’ve skipped legs have finally caught up to you. The easiest way to fix this is to work on strengthening your calf muscles. Luckily for there are plenty of calf exercises out there to get you where you need to be for a box jump
                  3. The final reason that might be preventing you from performing a box jump is that your body lacks the explosive power necessary to perform the exercise. Ultimately, you will have to switch up your training routine a little bit to focus on this explosive power. This can be done in a variety of ways, even with the use of kettlebells. A personal trainer can really help you get into this type of training. 

                  Conclusion

                  The box jump is easily one of the best and most strenuous calisthenic exercises that you can do. This plyometric exercise will give you a killer workout while working every one of your leg muscles and it will help you build functional athletic ability and increase your vertical jump height.

                  If you want to have a leg day that’ll really get you pumped up, include this exercise into your routine. But, remember to start small, especially if you’ve never done it before.