If you’re new to functional fitness and already dread the idea of doing box jumps, then it’s probably time you started getting used to them.
Box jumps are one of the most common exercises in the sport of CrossFit. In any given week, you will find them in a number of different workouts at affiliates across the world.
A box jump is as simple as its name suggests: you have to jump from the ground, onto a box! The size of the box can vary from workout to workout, and depending on your gender and age. Some Rx’d workouts might use a 24 inch box, while others use a 32 inch box.
But regardless of the size, the most important thing to remember is the hip extension at the top.
To perform a proper rep, a full hip extension must be reached. That means, once you jump onto the box with two feet, you must then lock out your legs, and stand up with your hips over your feet, just like a deadlift. Once you have achieved this, you can jump back down and start again!
Box jumps are great for any athlete and have a number of physical benefits. These include:
Increased explosiveness – Springing from the ground to a box is a great way to increase you vertical leap. The movement utilizes a lot of fast twitch muscles and that will help improve your overall explosiveness. The more you jump, and the higher you jump, the more explosive your legs will become.
Improved Olympic lifting – High box jumps have a direct carry over to the Olympic lifts. The rapid hip flexion in the top part of the box jump is the same as the hip flexion needed in the third pull of the snatch and the clean. So doing box jumps will help create faster hip flexion.
Improved cardiovascular – Box jumps can be an exhausting exercise. Each rep uses a number of leg and core muscles, and after a few reps you will notice your heart rate start to rise. This exercise is not only good to improve leg strength, but also to improve cardiovascular fitness.
During workouts, box jumps can be tough. Many beginners will burn out early in a workout simply because they do not have the form, or technique for box jumps. However, the exercise can be made a lot easier, by following a few simple steps to improve box jumps.
The most effective way to improve box jumps, is by getting the right technique. I know what you’re probably thinking, ‘there’s not much to jumping from the ground to a box, is there?’ Although the truth is, there is.
Just like a deadlift, just like a snatch and just like a clean, a box jump is a lot easier when you have the right technique. A good technique consists of keeping your feet together, and trying to land them in the centre of the box.
You want to try to have a soft landing, and keep balanced the whole way through. Looking straight ahead and focusing on a horizontal point is a good way of keeping balanced while box jumping.
Timing and Rhythm
The most important step, and by far the best way to improve box jumps, is the timing and rhythm of your reps.
Most beginners start from the bottom of the box, jump onto it, and then step down. Others simply jump up and back down to the ground and have a short break before going again.
The most effective and efficient way of doing box jumps, however, is to start and finish each rep on top of the box. If you need to have a rest, take it while standing on top of the box, and not on the ground.
The reason for this is simple. Jumping down and back up to the box in one swift movement utilizes the stretch cycle period, making it easier and more efficient to perform a rep. If you land on the ground, you have to re-generate power to get back on top of the box by bending you hips and pushing off the ground. Essentially, you are wasting more energy, the more time you rest on the ground.
Here’s a quick video of multiple Games competitor Matt Chan showing us how to do efficient box jumps:
By following a few simple steps, you can improve your box jump performance quite dramatically.
The more you practice the skill, the higher your vertical leap will become, and the more explosive your legs will become.
Eventually, with a bit of training you might be able to become the new Ryan Moody (6 times world record holder for highest standing box jump). Or you could even rival The Rx Review’s own Michael McCoy, who still holds the record at his local box for the highest box jump.
Here’s some footage of his efforts: