If you are looking for a new exercise to increase your explosiveness, your vertical, and your stamina, box jumps may be a good part of your lower-body mix. They are a pretty intense exercise, and I wouldn’t recommend them for anyone who is just starting a workout routine. I’m fit and these bad girls kicked my butt pretty quickly.
The first time I tried them, I simply jumped with both feet onto the aerobics platform (about 10 inches high) at the fitness gym. Rather than stand all the way up on the platform, I kept my knees flexed and jumped gently back down. They looked pretty much like this. I did three sets of 30 seconds each, getting in about 30 jumps on each set. I moved carefully and kept a sharp focus on each movement, so that I didn’t twist or bust something. (That’s all I need!)
Then I did a little bit of research online and talked to some friends who suggested a slightly different approach. I used a higher box — the LifeTime Fitness near me has a set of boxes for this very purpose — and worked only on the jump, not on high repetitions.
My box was about 17 inches high, coming up just below my knees. The height was a little intimidating at first, but I didn’t have any trouble actually reaching it. The trick is that you’re not hopping up with your legs hanging straight down, you are actually raising your knees in order to gain some height.
So you stand with both feet solid in front of your box, squat down, then jump up. I bring my hands up to help with my momentum, and make an effort to land with the entire length of my feet on the box. You may have to experiment a little with how near or far away from the box you need to be to get the arc right.
The object is to land softly, without a loud “WHOMP” that turns all the heads in the gym to where you are laboring really hard to do something that looks really simple. In order to get a nice soft landing I’d need about three yards of cotton batting on top of my box, but I’m working on it. It’s also important to stand straight up once you land on top of the box, like you would in a squat exercise. Then, rather than jumping off the box like I did with my low, quick jumps from the first day, I simply stepped down. I did three sets of 10 careful reps each.
Here’s another page with a simple explanation and good pictures of the box jumps.
I was careful to NOT do these on a day before any of my boxing-specific workouts, just in case they were hard on my hips or knees, but I haven’t had any difficulty with that. I plan to continue working on the 17″ box, and have my eye on the next higher one. The competitive gene Does Not Ever Die.
Here is my favorite video of all the box jumpers I saw on my surf. Wouldn’t you love to be able to hit that 50″ jump?
Image credit: Rodrigo Basaure on Flickr.