Jumping on top of a sturdy box is not just something people do for fun. Find out how to do box jumps with good technique and whether they are the right choice for you.
As the name implies, box jumps involve jumping onto a sturdy surface, often a plyo box, from the bottom of the bodyweight squat position.
This exercise can be a great way to improve muscle power in muscles like your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves.
Many people will even be able to grow these muscles with box jumps.
Compared to regular jump squats without a plyo box, box jumps are easier on your knees because you build up less momentum before falling.
It may also feel better to have a specific height as a target in front of you.
One thing to keep in mind is that most people still want to do other leg exercises to actually grow the muscles in the areas above more effectively.
Additionally, it is possible to do lower box jumps to train cardiovascular health. However, people with this goal will likely want to choose more effective exercises.
How to do a box jump
As the name implies, doing this exercise will require a sturdy plyo box or another elevated surface. How high your plyo box should be depends on a variety of factors.
In short, you want to be able to do at least 10 box jumps at the height you choose, even though a set typically consists of fewer repetitions. If you are in doubt as a beginner, choose a lower box.
Once you have the right equipment, take the following steps to do a box jump:
- Stand upright in front of the box with your feet at shoulder width.
- Bend into about a quarter squat or slightly lower while you swing your arms back.
- Swing your arms to the front again and at the same time jump forward on top of the box. When landing you want to have your knees more or less at the quarter squat again. If your hips are lower than that, it may be a sign the box is too high for your current jump level.
- Step down for the next repetition.
You want to land on the box with your feet at about shoulder width and your knees going somewhat outward/in line with your feet.
How much you want to swing your arms depends on your training goals. The more you use them to generate upward force, the less your legs have to work in box jumps to reach the same height.
Next, one of the benefits of using a plyo box is that you don’t have to jump down. Most people want to step off the box or the plyo box substitute, not jump off.
Lastly, most people want to focus at least somewhat on keeping their spine straight. Especially when using extra weights.
Box jumps muscles worked
Box jumps mainly work your quadriceps (front thighs), glutes (butt), hamstrings (back thighs), and calves. Additionally, your lower back muscles will have to work to a certain extent.
Interestingly enough, training your muscles in different ways can cause different changes. Plyometric leg exercises like box jumps focus on training muscle power.
Muscle power is how much force your muscles can generate in a short amount of time.
To train muscle power you typically want to stick to shorter sets of up to 5 repetitions with 2 to 4 minutes of rest in between each set.
As you get more powerful, you will have to keep challenging your muscles to see progress. One way to do this is to focus on jumping higher.
Additionally, individuals more experienced with plyometric training can consider weighted box jumps with equipment options like a weighted vest. Keep this weight around 40% to 70% of your 1RM.
Lastly, plyometrics can also help you build some muscle although weighted exercises tend to be more effective for this purpose.
Benefits of box jumps
While they are not the best for all training goals, it is fair to say the box jumps offer benefits. A few examples include:
- Powerful muscles: Box jumps are a type of resistance training that can help you increase leg muscle power and even mass.
- Can help with losing weight: Box jumps will burn more calories than standard daily activities. Additionally, any extra muscle mass you build increases your energy usage throughout the day. In turn, you can say that box jumps help, but are not always enough for, weight loss.
- Balance & coordination: You can train your balance and coordination by challenging yourself in these areas. Box jumps can help you do this.
- Can improve athletic performance: The muscles you work with box jumps are also important for running and other movements. Increasing muscle power in these areas can improve performance in many sports.
- Keeps things interesting: You can make your workouts more fun by doing different exercises. Implementing box jumps every once in a while could benefit your consistency.
Box jumps are often not the only exercise option for these benefits. At the same time, these could be enough reasons to do this movement more often.
Box jump alternatives
There are many good other leg exercises too. Both for improving muscle power and building mass.
Some box jump alternatives include:
- Broad jumps
- Jump squats
- Bulgarian split squats
- Jump lunges
- Speed squats
- Power skips
Why you are interested in box jumps and why they turn out to be suboptimal for you will influence what alternatives are the best for your situation.
Is the box jump a good exercise?
The box jump is a good exercise for improving muscle power in leg muscles like your quadriceps.
Landing on the box can be more comfortable for your ankles, knees, and back than something like a jump squat.
If you are not too experienced with resistance training, box jumps could even help you grow your quadricep muscles too.
Box jumps can also be helpful for people who want to switch up their exercise routines.
Additionally, you could do box jumps with a lower surface to focus on cardiovascular health. However, there are many options that are more effective for this goal.
Similarly, to grow and strengthen your leg muscles optimally, there are better exercise options.
Lastly, keep in mind that personal preferences should influence your exercise choices too. If you don’t like box jumps, other plyo box workouts can offer many benefits too.
What is box jumping good for?
Box jumping is mainly good for improving leg muscle power in a way that is softer on your ankles, knees, and lower back than something like jump squats.
Are box jumps better than squats?
Box jumps are generally better than squats for improving leg muscle power. On the other hand, weighted squats tend to be better than box jumps for improving leg muscle mass and strength.