The Box Jump
Box jumps are incredible addition to any workout regimen, assuming that you use them intelligently.
In recent years, there has been a major shift in how box jumps are utilized in a workout. Box jumps have transitioned from being a low volume/technique driven/explosive drill that is performed while the trainee is fresh, to a high volume/cardio blasting/”get on the box at any cost” drill that is performed at random times throughout the workout.
*** Everything I am about to say is my opinion. Don’t forget that, what I say is not the law, it’s what I believe at this moment. I am simply aiming to get you to think about what box jumps are designed for.
The box jump is a variation of a plyometric (aka: “jump training”) drill. Plyometrics are a form of training that involves rapid stretching and contracting of muscles in an effort to produce the largest amount of power in the shortest amount of time possible.
Based on this definition, it is reasonable to think that plyometrics should be performed early in a workout when you are as fresh as possible. Jumping while fresh will ensure that you can maximize the training effect of your box jumps, and also so that you can safely land on top of the box surface that you are jumping toward. Leaving skin on the box or worse hurts like hell.
—> A quick brief on jumping technique
Arm drive combined with leg drive are the keys here. Put as much force into the ground surface as possible while extending from the ankles, knees and hips. Arms will start in the front of the body, counter-swing backward, than aggressively swing back through to the from of the body on up to the ceiling. Your goal should be to land in the same position that you originally started from. Feet must land flat, completely planted on the box surface, not half way on or only on the balls of the feet. This rep does not count if this happens.
These are my rules for box jumps.
Again, the summarized version is: Explode off the floor and land in the exact same posture that you left the floor with. This represents a quality rep.
Knowing this will help you understand why I feel the fitness world has lost sight of box jump’s purpose
So, great story Kyle, but how many box jumps should I be doing in a given workout?
Short answer: 25-30 reps.
Yes, that is it.
Again, remember that the goal of any box jump is to improve your body’s ability to first elongate the muscles and then quickly contract the muscles to explode from the floor. You’re trying to develop explosive power by including box jumps into your workout, not build work capacity or a resistance to fatigue. I am adamant about this.
This shouldn’t happen in a controlled environment.
If you injure yourself while performing box jumps, I would bet a six-pack of Imperial IPA beer that you either:
A) Let your ego choose a box that is too high.
B) Are using box jumps as a conditioning tool.
Problem A happens. We all think we can jump higher than we really can, and sometimes we have to leave some skin on the box in order to bring our ego back down to earth.
Problem B however, is pure negligence. Box jumps are one exercise that I will NEVER (and never say never) prescribe as a conditioning tool. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. Looking at the science behind why we do box jumps in the first place, transforming them into a gut busting conditioning tool is asking for injury. It’s a de-evolution in exercise. A step backward.
—> We lose power rapidly into adulthood…
Power declines at about 2-3 times the rate that strength does move through adulthood, so make sure that you put the content of this article into action. It’s actually kind of important that we do our best to maintain our ability to produce power when we need it. Smart box jumps can help off-set this.
Cheers to avoiding knee pain, leaving skin on the box or sudden death by box jumps!