Box jumps have long been an integral part of functional movement training. Like running, box jumping is one of those things that looks simple but is often dangerous when performed the wrong way. However, it can be very effective when performed the right way.
Practice and perfect three key elements and you’ll be well on your way to feeling more confident in your jumps.
Stabilization & Strength
It’s about core stability and core strength. Stable core muscles allow you to hold your initial position, as you land on top of the box, and as you land back on the ground. Strong core muscles allow you drive powerfully into the air, hold your position while in flight, and protect your body from the shock of landing back on the ground.
Plank to achieve better stability
Planks help engage the muscles of the pelvis and lower abdomen, which are vital to the execution of a proper box jump.
How-To: Begin in a plank. Hold 45 seconds. Extend your arms, one-at-a-time, until in a full push-up position. Bring your right knee to your chest and hold for 30 seconds. Take your leg back and bring your left knee to your chest. Hold 30 seconds. Take your leg back to its original position and rest. Repeat the sequence for 3 sets of 4 to 6 holds per leg for max benefits.
To build strength: Wrap a band around the base of a rig. Slip your foot inside the loop and instead of bringing your knee to your chest, pull forward for 12 reps on each foot.
Repeat entire sequence for 3 to 4 sets of 12 reps for max benefits.
Your takeoff position is key to achieving lift and accuracy in your jumps. Imagine your body is a tightly coiled spring. Your objective should be to release that spring straight up, not out, and as close to the box as possible.
Positioning yourself closer to the box forces you to drive vertically, decreasing the distance between you and the box before, during and after each jump. A closer position forces you to drive your knees higher, increasing your trajectory, enabling you to achieve maximum lift, clearing the height of the box. The shorter the distance from the box, the faster you can perform each jump.
How-To: Position your body as you would during the start of a hang clean. Rise up slightly onto your mid/forefoot. This foot position will trigger the reflex needed for the initial take off.
Position your arms behind you so that they follow the angle of your torso. Good arm placement aids in timing and balance at takeoff and landing. Your head along with your eyes and chin should be focused forward, not up or down.
Takeoff & In-flight Mechanics
When you are set to jump, violently swing your arms up towards the sky. This motion will begin to draw your torso up initiating the movement. At the same time, drive your knees up towards your chest in order to leave the ground and complete the lifting process. Your main objective is to clear the height of the box, not necessarily to land on top of it. Think height first!
Tuck jumps are great for practicing your takeoff form and in-flight mechanics without a box.
How-To: Start in the takeoff position. Takeoff from the ground as you would during a box jump, violently throwing your arms up, and driving your knees to your chest at the same time. Land back on the ground and repeat for 2 -3 sets of 4-6 reps for max benefits.
One-Leg Low Box Jumps
These are perfect for building up the lower leg muscles needed in both the takeoff and landing of your jumps. This exercise will also ensure that you are building the strength, stabilization, and endurance of each individual leg. Legs that are conditioned separately and equally have fewer imbalances, and will be twice as powerful when used together.
How-To: Find a flat surface to jump on about 1ft off the ground. To start, tuck the leg you’re not jumping with behind you and hold that leg, bending it at the knee. Standing on one leg, position your body in the correct position to do a standard box jump. Leave the ground the same way you would during a standard jump as described above. Repeat for 2-3 sets of 5-10 reps per leg for max benefits. Do not alternate.