Box jumps are a plyometric training exercise to improve your glute, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves overall strength and power. Although an intense exercise, box jumps are modifiable for all fitness levels as you can adjust the height of the box on which you are jumping. The American Council on Exercise considers box jumps intermediate-level exercises, so only attempt box jumps when you are able to complete a traditional, stationary squat with perfect form.
A warm-up increases the circulation to your legs and prepares your muscles for the intensity of box jumps. You can perform full-body movements such as five minutes of walking or light-resistance stationary cycling. Another warm-up option is plyo-specific and uses squats to prepare your legs for the box jumps. For example, perform 10 to 12 squats without resistance or step up onto the box with each foot five to 10 times. These initial step-ups get you used to the height of the box so your muscles are acclimated for your specific workout. As a beginner, use a plyometric box or an aerobic step that is 6 to 12 inches high for both the warm-up and the workout. Once your strength improves, increase the height of the box to between 12 and 24 inches.
Place the box on a no-slip floor. Stand facing the box and approximately 3 to 6 inches away from the box. Position your feet hip-distance apart with your knees and toes facing forward. Rest your arms at your sides. Set your feel parallel with each other so your heels are not turned out or turned in. Bend your knees and swing your straight arms behind you. Lower your hips until you feel your heels lift off the floor. Forcefully push off the floor as you swing your arms forward and quickly jump onto the box. Land with both feet on the platform, your weight evenly distributed across your feet, your toes facing forward and your knees bent. Land with your knees facing forward, not turned in or out and keep your knees directly above your heels, instead of pushed forward toward your toes. Stand up completely and slightly push your hips forward. Lower your arms to your sides. Step down slowly with one foot at a time, maintaining an upright body posture and returning to the starting position.
Jumping onto the box is the key, but safe jumps are essential. Instead of lifting your feet off the floor as if jumping rope, which limits your range of motion, push your feet onto the floor and propel your body upward. Jumping down off the box is not recommended as it carries a risk of injuring your Achilles tendon.
Begin with three to five box jumps. If three to five are easy, increase the number of repetitions. For example, perform five to eight box jumps. Continue to gradually increase the repetitions until you reach 12 reps. Then, add another set of 10 to 12 jumps. When that set becomes easy, add a third set of 10 to 12 repetitions. Perform box jumps one or two days a week. Plyometric box jumps use a lot of energy and, as a result, break down muscle fibers, so allow for at least two days of rest in between sessions for muscle recovery and repair. Stretch your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and glutes after your box jump workouts.
Increase the Challenge
To make box jumps more challenging, you can use a higher box. Another option is to perform the movement by taking off on one leg instead of two and landing with both feet on the box. For example, stand facing the box, balance your weight on your right foot, bend your right knee and push off the floor with your right foot. Then, land on the box with both feet. Once you master this variation, jump off one leg and land on one leg to further increase the intensity of the box jump.