Box jumps are a form of plyometric exercise that involve repeatedly jumping onto a box or any other stable, level surface. This exercise targets the quads, hamstrings, and glutes, especially the highly volatile muscle fibers. As a result, box jumps are an excellent way for athletes to increase the height of their vertical jumps, as well as increase strength in the legs and improve stamina.
One advantage of box jumps is that they require very little equipment. While some fitness equipment companies sell boxes designed specifically for box jumps, it is possible to perform this exercise on any raised, flat, and stable surface. The higher the surface is from the ground, the more intense the workout will be. For this reason, athletes should begin with lower surfaces and gradually try to perform the exercise on higher surfaces after building up the necessary muscles and coordination.
To perform box jumps, the athlete first stands straight up in front of the box with his hands at his sides and looking straight ahead. Then, with the feet shoulder-width apart, he squats down by bending the knees and the hips. It is important at this point to still keep the back as straight as possible, and to continue to look forward. Then, in one explosive motion, the athlete extends the legs while swinging the arms forward to help generate momentum. Once in the air, the athlete must bend his knees to pull his feet high enough into the air to clear the top of the box and, eventually, land on it.
When landing on the box, there are a few important things the athlete should remember. First, the entire foot should be on the box, not just the toes. Second, it is important that both feet land on the box at the same time. Third, the athlete should maintain control throughout the jump and should land softly.
Once on the box, the athlete stands into a fully erect position before returning to the ground. If the athlete feels comfortable doing so, he can return to the ground by jumping backward gently and with control. Otherwise it is also acceptable to simply step down off of the box backward. If an athlete chooses this latter approach, he should alternate which leg steps down first after each jump to maintain muscle balance.
The number of repetitions will vary depending on the desired intensity of the workout. To decrease the difficulty of box jumps, the athlete can lower the height of the box or step onto the box instead of performing a jump, though he should alternate which leg steps first each time. For a more difficult exercise, the athlete can raise the height of the box or start the exercise while standing further away. Weight vests can also increase the difficulty, although too much weight can be dangerous for the knee joints.
Box jumps are beneficial to athletes who participate in a number of different sports and activities. Since they improve vertical jump height, box jumps are ideal for basketball players. They generally improve lower body power, so they also benefit any athlete who needs quick bursts from the lower body, such as sprinters or wrestlers. They will also improve an athlete's ability to execute other exercises like burpees, front squats, thrusters, tuck jumps, and jumping pull ups. When combined with these exercises, they can be a crucial part of a complete body workout that maintains a high level of intensity while requiring very little equipment.