In terms of common gym equipment, the jump box doesn’t look like very much. This unassuming cube may not inspire much enthusiasm - until you see someone using it.
It can be incredible watching the explosive power of someone utilizing a jump box. Jump boxes use something called “plyometric training”. Plyometrics combine speed and power, to give amazing force. Used correctly, a jump box can reduce injury risk, increase endurance, and build power.
Of course, none of this happens if you aren’t using a jump box correctly. Below, we cover some of the most common jump box exercises (including the standard box jump), so you can work this equipment into your routine easily.
Constructing a workout around a jump box
A jump box, sometimes known as a plyo box, can support a whole workout. It’s particularly good for short, repetitive movements, where a user can build up conditioning and endurance. When using the box, it’s important to think about form, rather than just trying to do as much as possible.
Consistent reps will build up strength, and lower the risk of injury. Below are several exercises that can be achieved using a jump box. These work out different parts of the body, and can be tailored to suit your needs. Work through for several reps, take a small break, and then move onto the next one. Cycle through them twice, or even three times, for a better workout.
This is the most basic move for using a jump box, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact, one of the worst mistakes you can make is saving this move until the end of the workout.
- Stand in front of the box, roughly 6-inches or a short step away from it. Keep the feet hip width apart.
- Bend the knees into a quarter squat, pushing your hips out behind you. Swing your arms back, and engage your core muscles.
- Swing your arms forward, using engaged muscles and explosive momentum to propel you up and forwards. Land softly, with both feet on the box completely. The knees and hips should be bent, to soften the landing and ease pressure on the joints. Check your feet position: they should be fully on the box, and hip width apart.
- Stand up straight, and step down from the box. Don’t jump, as this puts strain on the joints.
- Repeat. Aim for 5 reps and 3 rounds. Quality matters more than quantity, so pay careful attention to your body positioning throughout.
Variations on the box jump
If you want to make a box jump easier, there is one simple method: choose a smaller box. For beginners, try using a stair initially, and slowly build up.
Another beginners move is the step-up. Step up with the right foot, and press on the heel to straighten the leg. Bring the left foot to meet the right. Bend the right knee, and step down with the left foot. Bring the right foot down to meet the left. Repeat this as necessary, then switch lead foot.
Variations can also be used to make the box jump more difficult (or more engaging).
Try adding weights. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, and carry them through the box jump movement. Alternatively, hold a kettlebell to the chest.
Adding a quarter turn can make the workout more engaging. Stand sideways to the box, with your feet a hip width apart. Bend the knees to a slight squat, push out the hips, and bring the arms back.
Swing the arms forward, explode upward into the jump, and perform a quarter turn in the air. Land with the hips and knees bent, facing forward on the box. Step down, and repeat. Switch sides after every rep.
Similar to how the box jump can be made easier by lowering the height, it can be made harder by choosing a bigger box. When you feel box jumps are becoming too easy, try to increase the height.
This jumping movement engages the legs and the core, as well as the shoulders and chest.
- Stand next to the jump box, feet under the hips and in line with the back edge of the box.
- Bend forward and place both hands, palms flat, on the box, close to the far edge.
- Press down through the arms, and brace the core.
- Kick your feet up in an explosive movement, bringing them towards the glutes. Hop the body over the box, to land in a mirror position on the other side.
- Immediately reverse the movement, landing back where you started. This is one rep.
Box Jump Burpees
For many, “box jump”, and “burpees” are two dreaded words that should never go hand in hand. The box jump burpee is an intense move that works much of the body. It’s ideal if you find the box jump is no longer achieving much.
- Stand a step away from the box, feet hip width apart. Squat low, with your hands on the floor in front of you.
- Kick both feet back and behind you, into a straight push up position. Lower your body to the floor.
- Immediately, bring your feet back into a squat position. Quickly stand, and jump up onto the box. Land with your knees and hips slightly bent. (If necessary, step forward between the squat and jump).
- Step down, and repeat straight away.
Non-Jumping Jump Box Exercises
Although jumping may be the most obvious use of the jump box, it isn’t it’s only use. In fact, there are lots of ways to use a jump box and work the entire body.
- Start in a straight plank position, with the feet resting on a jump box, palms flat to the ground. As a variation, hold the body in a reverse “V” position, with the hips pointing upwards.
- Holding the core tight, press down with the arms. Lower your body until the chest (from a straight position), or the head (in a reverse V) is close to the ground.
- Push back up through the hands, until the arms are straight. Repeat.
Multi Level Push-Ups
- Start on the floor in a plank position. Place the left palm flat on the floor, and the right palm flat on the edge of the left side of the box.
- Push down, lowering the chest to the floor, then push back up to the top of the box.
- Move the right hand to the right side of the box, place the left hand on the left edge of the box, and walk the feet to the right. You should be in line over and behind the box. Do a push-up on the box.
- Continue moving right. Place the right hand on the floor, move the left hand to the right edge of the box, and walk the feet in line with the shoulders. Do a push-up from this position. This is one rep. Complete 3 reps in total.
Elevated Knee Touches
- Start in a plank position, feet on the box, body straight, and the palms resting flat on the ground.
- Hold your core tight. Bring the right knee forward, bending towards the right elbow. Return the knee to the starting position.
- Bring the left knee forward, bending toward the left elbow. Return the knee to the starting position. This is one rep. Repeat for 5 reps total, 3 sets.
- Sit on the front edge of the box. Place the palms on the edge of the box, either side of the hips. Hold the arms straight, and keep the feet flat on the floor. Move slightly forward, so the body is resting away from the box.
- Bend the elbow 90 degrees behind you, as you lower the hips to the floor. At the same time, bring the left knee towards the chest.
- Straighten the arms and lower the left leg back to the floor. Bring the hips back up in line with the edge of the box, but not sitting.
- Repeat the action, bringing the right knee forward as you lower the body. This is one rep.
Step-Up to Lunge
- Start by standing a step away from the front of the jump box, hands held by sides.
- Step the right foot up onto the box, placed flat. Push through the right foot, engaging the core, and lift the body up. As the right leg straightens, push the left knee up towards the chest. Bring the left foot down to the floor, back to the starting position. Step the right foot down, but bring it behind the body and lower to a lunge position. Press down with the left foot, and return to the starting stance.
- This is one rep. Complete 8 of these, then switch legs. Bring the left foot up to the box, push the right knee towards the chest, and lunge back with the left leg. Repeat another 8 times.
Single Leg Elevated Squat
- Stand to the side of the jump box. Bring the right leg up and place it flat on the edge of the left side of the box. Straighten both legs. The left foot should be to the side of the right, and slightly in front.
- Bend the right knee to 90 degrees, lowering the left leg toward the floor. If you can, touch the ground using your left foot. Hold the arms out in front, to maintain balance.
- Straighten the right leg, bringing the left leg up with it. This is one rep. Complete the move 8 times, and then switch legs for another 8.
Why Use a Jump Box?
A jump box can help the user to build strength and power. They’re versatile, and adaptable for many types of movement. They’re also small; easy to fit into a home gym.
An intense workout using the jump box can work your quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, core, arms, and shoulders. You’re required to stay engaged when using a jump box, which can encourage you to work harder. A poorly performed box jump is painful, and you don’t want to risk missing the box. Because a strong level of engagement is necessary, the movements stay tight and controlled, right until the very end.
Using a jump box proves that to have a good workout you don’t need lots of equipment, or even loads of time. Working through a few, basic movements can still improve strength, and foster an explosive power.
Choosing the Right Size Box Jump?
Although it’s incredibly cool watching someone explode on to a 60-inch box, it isn’t realistic for most of us. If you ever want to work up to this, you need to start on the right size box. For beginners 5’4” and under, a 16” box is recommended (and some may prefer 14”). Beginners 5’9” and above are best off starting with a 20” box. Once you’re comfortable, a box between 24” and 30” is standard.
Don’t push yourself too fast by picking the wrong size box. Choose a height that feels comfortable, but not easy. Going too high too fast will result in injury, and then it’s even longer until you can advance.
Can You Make Your Own Jump Box?
Yes, it is possible to make your own jump box. All you need is plywood, screws, and wood glue. Be very careful when measuring and cutting, because every part of the box needs to be accurate for a proper hold. Gluing the box before screwing it together provides an extra layer of durability, which is particularly useful when it comes to jumping moves.
It is possible to make your own jump box, but you need to be careful. It needs to withstand a serious workout without the risk of falling apart.
If you don’t want to make your own, look for common objects that can be used instead. Staircases make great starting points for beginners. Otherwise, look for sturdy chairs and benches. A strong jump box will not only be safer, but it can also make the user feel more confident.