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How to do box jumps

Every box jump involves a leap of faith. You’ll probably land on top of the box, on your feet, and not make it into one of those box jump fail compilation videos (seriously, do not Google). But how do you convince your brain and body that a solid landing awaits?

Start With a Smaller Box

No, smaller. Find a box in your gym that’s so tiny and cute it doesn’t even scare you. Maybe that’s a 20-inch box instead of the 24-inch you’ve been attempting—or maybe you’re not ready for boxes at all and you’re going to start with a four-inch aerobics step. We all have to start somewhere.

If you’re completely psyching yourself out about any height at all, find something visual that doesn’t add height, like a yoga mat. Jump onto the mat as if it were the world’s tallest box: you go up, you come down, you land right in the middle where you need to be.

This isn’t just for your confidence, but also so you can work on your form. Super high box jumps are impressive, but they have a lot more to do with hip flexion (pulling your knees up to clear the box) than with jumping ability. Better to jump high above the box, alighting softly in the center on your way down, than to just barely get your toes over the edge.

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Visualize Your Landing

Get to know the box. It’s not enough to know how many inches, or to see where the box is—you need to know, in the deepest circuits of your brain, exactly where your landing place will be. Scott Herman, who can jump 52 inches, recommends not just touching the box but standing on top of it to really get a feel for where it is in space.

​Use Visualization to Power Through Tough Workouts

Mentally rehearsing tough spots in workouts or competitions can be a useful tool to beat those…

While you’re up there, strike a pose. Find the spot where you’d like to land—right smack in the middle of the box—and stand there as if you’ve just landed. Legs a little bent, weight in the middle of your feet. A good rule of thumb is to land in the same position as you start.

Don’t worry about jumping down, by the way. It’s safest for your joints and tendons if you step down rather than jump, especially if you do a lot of reps or if your box jumps are getting to be really high.

Take a Video

Maybe you worry about bumping your knees on the way up, or scraping your shins if you fall. Take a video of yourself doing your best jump, slow motion if you can. Then see what’s actually going on. I used to worry that my starting position was too far away from the box, but video convinced me that I cover enough forward distance that it’s not an issue.

Record Yourself Exercising to Improve Your Technique and Form

In weightlifting, form and technique are everything. You can think you’re doing everything right,…

If you’re feeling really brave, take a look at some of those box jump fail videos . You’ll notice that each one has a fatal flaw you can avoid, and you’ll start seeing the same warning signs over and over . If the person’s toe catches on the corner of the box and they fall forward, it’s usually because they’re fatigued from too many jumps, and they can’t jump quite high enough. (Or they chose a too-high box to begin with.) But you know to use a smaller box and keep good form.

Or if somebody falls off the other side of the box, it’s usually because they forgo t to stick the landing. You should be landing straight down, dropping from the air into that landing position you visualized, and then standing back up again. You won’t land on the far side of the box and flip it . You won’t land with lots of forward momentum that makes you somersault over. You’ll land softly, like a cat, like you practiced.

Give Yourself a Pep Talk

That moment before takeoff is an important one. You’ve got an easy box height, you know how to land, and you know what to do. Give yourself a routine: maybe reposition your right foot, then your left, then inhale, then squat and swing your arms—or whatever works for you.

How to Calm Your Nerves with “Mental Rehearsal” and Get Through Anything

They say worrying does you no good, but worrying productively can actually get you through…

If the box is solid wood with sharp edges, or rubbery with soft edges, remind yourself that you’re going to fly straight up and land right in the middle, so it does not matter what the edges are like.

If it’s one of those platforms with metal legs, envision a solid wood box underneath the platform. Those metal legs are just a useless skeleton and they are not in your path.

Remember how solid you landed every time you practiced before—because you’ve practiced tons of times on easy, low boxes, right?—and lift off. Good luck with the landing.

I’ve developed and use the following 6-phase box jump and landing exercise progression.

That said, for coaching all exercises, I use the same process popularized by American football coaches: Stance – Alignment – Assignment.

The stance for both the following squat jump and double-leg landing progressions is the same – a squat stance with the thighs and torso roughly 45-degrees relative to the floor and the feet just outside shoulder-width. In other words, the take-off should look just like the landing and vice versa.

The alignment involves keeping the knees tracking in-line with the feet and with a fairly neutral spine. The prerequisite to both of the following progressions is the ability to demonstrate this stance and alignment.

The assignment is what differs between the squat jump progression and the double-leg landing progression. The squat jump progression is mainly about power production, while the double-leg landing progression is about absorbing force

Here’s my 6-Phase Box Jump and Landing Progression

The Box Jump Progression: Phase 1-2

Phase 1a – Small box jump (mid-shin height)

Phase 2a – Medium box jump (knee height)

Landing Progression: Phase 1-2

Phase 1b – Drop landing from small box jump (mid-shin height)Phase 2b – Drop landing from medium box jump (knee height)


1a and 1b, and 2a and 2b are done together in two distinct steps. Jump onto the front of the box (to perform the ‘a’ portion), then perform the drop-jump off of the back of the box (to perform the ‘b’ portion). Pause for at least a second on each element to ensure proper stance and alignment is maintained.

Jumping and Landing Progression: Phase 3-6

Once the above two phases are completed (and performed in conjunction), and competency in stance and alignment is displayed in Phase 2a and 2b, progress to the following phases.

Phase 3 – Small box jump (mid-shin height) with backwards drop landing.

Phase 4 – Medium box jump (knee height) with backwards drop landing.

Phase 5 – Small box jump (mid-shin height) with backwards drop landing. Fast transition.

Phase 6 – Medium box jump (knee height) with backwards drop landing. Fast transition.


Doing the drop-jump backwards off the box forces you to feel the ground and reflexively decelerate when your feet make contact. Whereas, dropping from the back of the box as in Phases 1 and 2, you see the ground coming and simply use your eyes. The athletic challenge is furthered in phase 6 by requiring a fast transition from landing to jumping. This makes it more plyometric.

Many people get hurt because they perform drills and sporting actions their body isn’t ready for. Spend two to four weeks (on average) in each phase to ensure your body is prepared for the demands of the next phase and other advanced jumping and landing drills.

High Box Jumps: Overrated and Misused

High box jumps get misused when the emphasis is on the height of the box instead of the height of actual jump. Sounds weird, but here’s why that is:

Let’s say you’re standing next to a high box platform that’s the same height as your waist. Now pick up one leg off the ground and flex your hip as high as you possibly can. The distance between the bottom of your foot and the top of the box is the actual height you’d have to jump in order to get on top of that box. The rest comes from hip flexion.

Now, if your goal when using high box jumps is to emphasize work on quick hip flexion, fine. But most people are using high box jumps because they want to emphasize explosive jump height. This is where box jumps get misused.

Trying to increase vertical jump height? That will require a powerful and explosive hip extension action, instead of a hip flexion action, which means you actually want to limit the amount of hip flexion involved in landing on top of the box.

If you do this, you won’t land on top of the box in that super-low crouched position we see during high box jumps. Instead, you want to find the highest box height that you’re able to land on, but with your knees and hips only bent around 30 degrees. With this method you’ll get all the good stuff from the exercise and you’ll be far less likely to become the star of the next high-box fail video.

Of course, you won’t be able to use as high of a box if you’re limiting the amount of hip flexion involved in the movement, which may be a blow to your ego. But there’s a big difference between what determines smart and effective training and what makes for cool social media material.

Box Jumps Aren’t Necessarily Plyometrics

Plyometrics can best be described as “reactive power” training, as plyometrics involve powerful contractions in response to a rapid stretching (eccentric action) of the same muscle and connective tissue.

Plyometric movements involve the stretch-shortening cycle, which consists of three phases:

1. A rapid pre-stretch or eccentric loading phase: Elastic energy is generated and stored, and the myotatic or stretch reflex is set off.

2. The amortization (transition) phase: The time between the end of the pre-stretch and the start of the concentric muscle action.

3. Muscle contraction or explosion phase: The execution of the explosive action the athlete is performing.

But let’s make it really simple. A good example of plyometrics in action is the fact that you can jump higher when you take a few steps before a jump.

The more powerful the reflex and subsequent contraction – via the steps before the jump – the more elastic energy is stored in the muscle.

Likewise, the shorter the amortization phase, the more powerful the subsequent muscle contraction will be.

So the ultimate goal of plyometrics is to take advantage of the elastic component of your muscle-tendon unit and utilize the stretch reflex (an involuntary neural event) to achieve as strong a muscle contraction as possible in the shortest amount of time possible.

Real Plyometrics

Put simply, a standing broad jump or jump onto a high box are power exercises; they are not very plyometric exercises.

A true plyometric exercise must contain a very fast loading phase and minimize the length of the amortization phase. The shorter the amortization phase, the greater the plyometric training effect.

So, the plyometric version of a box jump would be to either first jump off of a small box or take a small jump into the air and then, upon landing, minimize your ground contact time and immediately explode onto the high box. Hence what we do in phases 5 and 6 of my 6-phase box jump and landing progress

In short, the less ground contact time you have between jumps, the greater the stretch reflex you create, therefore the greater plyometric effect.

Calling anything that involves jumping “plyometrics” is inaccurate. In that, using jumps as power training is purely about improving muscular power, and is based on the height or length of the jump. However, plyometric jumps are about improving the elasticity of your muscle-tendon unit and about refining the stretch reflex.

This was originally posted on Nick Tumminello’s website. You can click here to read more blogs from him.

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How to do box jumps

How to do box jumps

How to do box jumps

How to Improve Box Jumps!

If you’re new to functional fitness and already dread the idea of doing box jumps, then it’s probably time you started getting used to them.

Box jumps are one of the most common exercises in the sport of CrossFit. In any given week, you will find them in a number of different workouts at affiliates across the world.

A box jump is as simple as its name suggests: you have to jump from the ground, onto a box! The size of the box can vary from workout to workout, and depending on your gender and age. Some Rx’d workouts might use a 24 inch box, while others use a 32 inch box.

But regardless of the size, the most important thing to remember is the hip extension at the top.

To perform a proper rep, a full hip extension must be reached. That means, once you jump onto the box with two feet, you must then lock out your legs, and stand up with your hips over your feet, just like a deadlift. Once you have achieved this, you can jump back down and start again!

Box jumps are great for any athlete and have a number of physical benefits. These include:

Increased explosiveness – Springing from the ground to a box is a great way to increase you vertical leap. The movement utilizes a lot of fast twitch muscles and that will help improve your overall explosiveness. The more you jump, and the higher you jump, the more explosive your legs will become.

Improved Olympic lifting – High box jumps have a direct carry over to the Olympic lifts. The rapid hip flexion in the top part of the box jump is the same as the hip flexion needed in the third pull of the snatch and the clean. So doing box jumps will help create faster hip flexion.

Improved cardiovascular – Box jumps can be an exhausting exercise. Each rep uses a number of leg and core muscles, and after a few reps you will notice your heart rate start to rise. This exercise is not only good to improve leg strength, but also to improve cardiovascular fitness.

During workouts, box jumps can be tough. Many beginners will burn out early in a workout simply because they do not have the form, or technique for box jumps. However, the exercise can be made a lot easier, by following a few simple steps to improve box jumps.

How to do box jumps

Proper Technique

The most effective way to improve box jumps, is by getting the right technique. I know what you’re probably thinking, ‘there’s not much to jumping from the ground to a box, is there?’ Although the truth is, there is.

Just like a deadlift, just like a snatch and just like a clean, a box jump is a lot easier when you have the right technique. A good technique consists of keeping your feet together, and trying to land them in the centre of the box.

You want to try to have a soft landing, and keep balanced the whole way through. Looking straight ahead and focusing on a horizontal point is a good way of keeping balanced while box jumping.

Timing and Rhythm

The most important step, and by far the best way to improve box jumps, is the timing and rhythm of your reps.

Most beginners start from the bottom of the box, jump onto it, and then step down. Others simply jump up and back down to the ground and have a short break before going again.

The most effective and efficient way of doing box jumps, however, is to start and finish each rep on top of the box. If you need to have a rest, take it while standing on top of the box, and not on the ground.

The reason for this is simple. Jumping down and back up to the box in one swift movement utilizes the stretch cycle period, making it easier and more efficient to perform a rep. If you land on the ground, you have to re-generate power to get back on top of the box by bending you hips and pushing off the ground. Essentially, you are wasting more energy, the more time you rest on the ground.

Here’s a quick video of multiple Games competitor Matt Chan showing us how to do efficient box jumps:

By following a few simple steps, you can improve your box jump performance quite dramatically.

The more you practice the skill, the higher your vertical leap will become, and the more explosive your legs will become.

Eventually, with a bit of training you might be able to become the new Ryan Moody (6 times world record holder for highest standing box jump). Or you could even rival The Rx Review’s own Michael McCoy, who still holds the record at his local box for the highest box jump.

How to do box jumps

Box jumps are a bit of a athletic status symbol, with professional athletes or otherwise very fit people posting videos of themselves leaping like gazelles straight up onto chest-high platforms. These flat-footed rocket launches are incredible feats, no doubt. But determining their worth for the average gym-goer is a little harder to nail down.

What Box Jumps Are Good For

This exercise is good for fast-twitch muscle fibers. It activates certain parts of your muscular system that are not activated during leg presses, squats, and other leg workouts.

The landing portion of this exercise can put healthy stress on your body that can prevent future injury. The exercise as a whole is great for building athleticism and balance that will help you in many other daily activities.

Lastly, this exercise is hard. It is great for getting a sweat on, and for getting that heart rate up quickly.

How to Do Box Jumps Correctly

First, get a stable platform. If you want web-wide shame and embarrassment, along with a hammered shin and a bloody lip, try a shoddy table or a wobbly stool. Or some text books on a computer like this guy:

Start with a low height, and move up until you feel challenged. Some choose to immediately find their maximum height, but this is a mistake. The benefits of this exercise come as you master proper form in the multiple stages of the jump, not when you hit a certain number of inches.

For the jump, start with feet shoulder-width apart. The pre-jump squat doesn’t need to be too deep. The hands should come back and explode up as the quads and calves are engaged.

The landing, both on top and on bottom, should be soft and controlled, with the jumper maintaining balance, landing in the initial jumping position, with hands at pocket level, slightly away from the body for balance. If the top landing is too hard, your box may be too low, or you may need more reps to get things under control. If your landing on top or bottom leaves you falling off balance, try going a bit lower.

Some people do repeated box jumps in a set, where they’ll land and immediately jump up again. This puts a strain on your knees and tibia, especially if you’re jumping high. If you want to try this, do a low height, and make sure you’re maintaining balance, and land in the athletic position that you started in.

Why Box Jumps Aren’t A Vital Exercise

Box jumping makes a fun contest between friends, but its value in becoming fit isn’t out of this world. Mastering box jumps will make you a better athlete, but since many of us are more worried about love handles than athletic prowess, box jumps don’t need to take priority.

Perhaps most importantly, it’s easy to get hurt doing box jumps. If you do them regularly, you’re almost guaranteed to bash your shins or take a fall.

And lastly, you aren’t actually proving much by doing a high box jump. True vertical is measured by how high you can reach, not how high you can bend your knees in a jump.

But… here’s an awesome video of Chicago Bull Jimmy Butler doing a box jump:

How to do box jumps

There are exercises we all love to hate, and, for many, box jumps are near (or at) the top of the list. It seems like a simple enough move — until you’re facing the box, wondering how in the world you’re going to propel yourself on top of something so high.

“Box jumps are hard for most of us for two reasons: fear and a lack of awareness and coordination in the body,” says Bergen Wheeler, national director of Core Fusion talent development for Exhale and co-creator of their Core Fusion Extreme class.

But with a few key tips and Wheeler’s step-by-step exercise progression below, you can work up to confidently leaping onto any box. “Box jumps are an incredible exercise,” she says. “They make you strong, they make you overcome your fears and they make you look really cool when you do them in front of your friends — you will be the envy of all of your friends and the gym or studio regulars!”

KEY POINTERS FOR BOX JUMPS

Wheeler says the keys to nailing box jumps are to:

  • Jump on and off of the ground with both feet.
  • Track your (bent) knees over your toes.
  • Land with your feet flat, at least hips distance apart, with bent knees in a squat position.
  • Use your arms to help lift you off the ground.
  • Brace your core. (This is the most important step!)

YOUR BOX JUMP TRAINING PROGRAM

Start with the first exercise (squat jumps), performing it every time you work out. “This should be done each time you set foot in the studio or gym. Incorporate it into your exercise regime,” Wheeler says. When you feel comfortable doing squat jumps, move onto the next exercise. Continue doing this, and soon you’ll be a box-jump master.

“Squat jumps with no box teach your body what it feels like to use your arms, land in a proper squat, activate your abs and to fully extend through your body in midair,” Wheeler says.

  • Start in a squat position with feet parallel, knees bent, hips in line with knees, weight in your heels and arms in front of you.
  • Swing your arms down while stretching your legs and jumping as high as you can. (Your body should be fully extended with arms down by your side.)
  • Land back in a squat position, swinging your arms back to the start position. Do 3 sets of 8–10 reps.

2. LOW BOX JUMPS

“This step will help you conquer the fear that you may have in attempting box jumps,” Wheeler explains. Choose a box that’s about 6 inches tall to practice what it’s like landing carefully in a squat.

  • Stand in front of a low plyo box and perform your squat jump, landing on the plyo box in a squat.
  • Step back down, and return to a squat position. Do 3 sets of 8–10 reps.

3. BOX STEP-UPS

“Stepping up on the box you’re eyeing to jump is another crucial moment that will help you overcome your fears,” Wheeler says. Again, it’s important to start and end this movement in a squat and to also be in a squat on top of the box so you can become comfortable with this position.

  • Stand in front of the desired height plyo box. Squat, then step up one foot at the time on the plyo box, landing on the box in a squat.
  • Step back down, and return to a squat position. Do 3 sets of 8–10 reps.

4. BOX JUMP WITH HAND HOLD

Having someone to spot you can help alleviate your fears the first few times you do a box jump.

  • Have your teacher or trainer stand in front or beside you to spot you. (Wheeler actually holds her students’ hands on their first few reps.)
  • Perform your box jump. Do 3 sets of 8–10 reps.

5. ADD HEIGHT

Only attempt jumps on higher boxes when you are really comfortable jumping on a lower height. “Constant repetition will not only help you overcome your fears, but it will help you build strength in your legs and abs to then move on to a higher box,” Wheeler says.

OTHER EXERCISES THAT CAN HELP

In addition to the moves above, some basic exercises can help strengthen your legs and abs, which will make box jumps easier. Wheeler recommends abs exercises like planks. She also suggests squats, pliés, weighted lunges or exercises that combine lower-body and upper-body movement so you get comfortable using your arms in conjunction with your legs. Consider it cross-training for box jumps and do them as often as you wish. “If it were me, I would do it every day until I mastered what I wanted,” Wheeler says.

GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT WORKOUT