I did box jumps for the first time last week. I mean, I’ve probably jumped on boxes before, but I only recently visited a gym that had a dedicated plyo box. A box made for jumping. It was fun.
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At their heart, box jumps are simple: You jump on a box. Which I did. But then you wonder: What next? Here are a few things you should know about working box jumps into a workout:
- It’s easier on your joints if you step down to the ground afterwards, instead of jumping down.
- Don’t overdo it: It’s easy to injure yourself with jumping exercises. I stopped at about five sets of 5-10 jumps that first time.
- Take a nice long rest between sets, if you want to jump as high as possible. Box jumps are a power exercise, meaning you’re using your muscles to create as much force as possible, as fast as possible. Rests of three to five minutes are best for power exercises. You can do something else, like push-ups, while you wait.
A big part of the fun of box jumps is challenging yourself to jump taller and taller heights. Some boxes have one height, take it or leave it. The box I used had three different heights (50, 60 and 75cm) depending on which way you turn it. I could do all three, but I’m not going to lie: Standing in front of a 75cm box for the first time, and leaving the ground without knowing if you’re going to land the jump, is kind of terrifying. And thrilling.
If you’re new to box jumps and even 50cm looks intimidating, jump onto an aerobics step instead. Most can be stacked to the height you like, up to 30cm or so.
Besides jumping straight up, there are some more challenging things you can try. I like the variations in this video from Men’s Health:
- Jump up with both feet, but land on just one.
- Jump up starting on just one foot. (This is really hard — try it with that aerobics step!)
- Start from a seated position, with the box in front of you. When you crouch down before a jump, you’re actually storing some energy in your muscles and tendons, like stretching a rubber band. Sitting, instead of crouching, takes that away and makes it much harder to jump high.
The next time I was at the gym, I saw some teenage gymnasts doing even more fun things with the plyo box, like jumping from the box down onto a bosu and bouncing off that for a no-hands cartwheel. I’m not going to try that one myself any time soon, and can’t recommend it. But I think it illustrates my main point here: Box jumps are fun.