Box jumps are an exercise used extensively in many vertical jump programs and with good reason. You see the humble box jump has a lot going for it. It isn't perfect however and in this article I will look at the pro's and cons of this exercise, as well as give you some practical advice on how to get the most out of it.
A box jump is simply jumping onto a box. To perform it correctly you should select a box height that challenges your jumping ability, but is not so high that it is your hip flexibility, rather than your muscular power that is allowing you to successfully complete the jump.
Box jumps are an excellent exercise choice for increasing your vertical jump because they are a low impact exercise. What does this mean? It means that when you land from the jump the impact forces you have to absorb are much lower than a regular jump.
For example, imagine you have a 30 inch standing vertical jump. This means that every time you jump with maximum effort you have to absorb the impact of landing forces from around a height of about 30 inches.
Alternatively, if you jump up onto a 25 inch box, then you only are absorbing landing forces equivalent to a 5 inch jump. This is substantially easier on not only your joints, but also your muscles due to the reduced eccentric stress.
These two factors have a couple of positive benefits for your vertical jump training in that it allows you to perform a higher volume of jumps and also it takes less time to recover.
Another benefit of box jumps is that generally they are done from a standing still position (dead stop). This makes them very good for improving explosive concentric strength and rate of force development (RFD).
The box jump is a terrific exercise, there is no doubt about it. But, like most exercises, there are also a few things that you should factor in when deciding whether or not to use them.
The first problem with box jumps is that because you need to bring your knees up quickly to land your feet on the box, it can lead to athletes not getting full hip extension. The higher the box you use the more pronounced this becomes.
Now before you all write in and comment, I have also those seen those clips of athletes jumping onto REALLY high boxes (check the image below of Greg Safko from Crossfit Sparta).
While this is damn impressive and yes, it does still require a very good vertical jump, there are other factors at work here such as hip flexibility, and the fact that they almost certainly do other things besides box jumps to develop their hops.
The other downside to box jumps is that they are really best suited for improving standing vertical jumps or jumps where you only have a short take off. The reasons for this are that with its reduced eccentric stress,a box jump won't do much in the way of developing reactive strength.
Secondly, because the landing area of a box is often quite small, and the boxes themselves are not always the sturdiest of things, it doesn't really suit using much of a horizontal run up beforehand. of course if you have a wide, solid platform to jump onto this isn't as much of an issue.
The third issue that you should consider is that impressive box jumps don't always translate into impressive vertical jumps, especially if it is running vertical jump height you are after. They build explosive strength, but if you lack reactive strength and movement efficiency, your running vertical might not benefit that much from them unless you incorporate other drills that work these areas (which of course our vertical jump training program does this for you).
Box jumps are ideally suited for heavier athletes due to the reduced impact. They are also very good for athletes whose primary form of jumping is a standing or one step jump. These two reasons go a long way to explaining why box jumps are so popular with NFL recruits. Those athletes tend to be bigger and heavier, and the standing vertical jump test is a key performance indicator at the NFL combine.
However, box jumps need not be limited to just heavy athletes. A few examples of non-football athletes that come to mind who could benefit from including box jumps in their workouts are volleyball and basketball players who often go for spikes and rebounds off jumps that have little or no run up, and soccer players who routinely jump to attempt to head in goals of corner balls, also off little or no run up.
Aside from a standard two foot box jump there are two other variations that I like to include in my training arsenal.
The first is the single leg box jump. This is actually quite a good choice for single leg jumpers as it helps develop explosive strength at approximately the joint angle used for take-off in a running jump.
The other variation is the one step box jump. When combined with a weight vest as shown in the video below this becomes probably my favorite version of the box jump.
The single leg and 1-2 step box jump are both excellent exercises but if you want a version of the box jump that is TRULY SPECIAL then you need to check out our jump training book Game Changers.
One of the methodologies described in the book is a version a box jump that has put more inches on athletes verticals than any other exercise I have ever seen.
The box jump is a classic exercise that can be very beneficial for athletes who jump from a standing position or off short run ups. It is great for building concentric power in a very specific manner, and it is easy on the joints.
If you avoid the common mistakes of using too high a box, and you mix it in with some other vertical jump exercises to form a well balanced vertical jump program you will find that the results speak for themselves.
Increasing your vertical jump isn't that complicated. It is simply about developing more power and movement efficiency. Most people know that getting more powerful is about getting stronger, usually via weight training, and then teaching our body how to apply that strength quickly via jumping drills. Where most athletes get confused is in determining how much strength work to do versus how much jumping etc to do.
How do you know? If you do it wrong you end up wasting time focusing on things that don't help you much. If you are not sure what you need to be working on you should take a look at our vertical jump training service.
It is an online jump training program where we determine precisely what you need to be working on, and then I build you a custom workout based on your individual needs. No more guessing what to focus on, how many reps, how much rest, or even how much weight to use (no other jump program gives you that last bit of VERY IMPORTANT information which makes it that much more user friendly to use).
So if you want to jump higher go and visit our vertical jump coaching page and get started. It really is the next generation of jump programs.
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