Box. Jumps. Y’all.

So now it’s summahtime, basically, because in New York there is no spring, so it’s time to wear shorts and show off how strong strong strong our legs are. But first let’s do some box jumps and build those leg muscles. Because seriously y’all, box jumps are for real.

WHAT’S A BOX JUMP?

This is a very good place for us to begin. What is this thing? Well, to start, a box jump requires almost no equipment; only you and some sort of stepper, whether it’s those jazzercise ones at the gym with risers you can stack, or a park bench (that no one is sitting on), or a high curb thing that’s around flowers in the park, or something like that. Really you just need any stable platform that is anywhere from 8 inches to 2 feet high, depending on your level. Some people end up doing like 4 feet, which I just cannot fathom. I suggest starting with 8 inches to make sure you’re solid in your form, and then building up from there.  Here are the steps to doing a box jump:

  1. Stand facing the platform with your feet about 3″ – 6″ away from it. Make sure your feet are shoulder width apart and your shoulders are back, keeping your chest open.
  2. Pushing your hips back, lower into a squat.
  3. Explode upwards towards the bench, extending your knees, hips, and ankles, keeping your feet parallel to the floor. I hate using “explode” and “explosive” to describe workouts, but really it’s the best way to get the idea across in this case.
  4. Land on the platform with both of your feet fully on, rocking the weight to the back of your heels and bending your knees as you land.* Be careful of your feet coming close together, keep them on the wide side, shoulder width apart.
  5. Now that you are in a squat position again, push off (somewhat more gently) and jump back, landing softly on your your feet and bending your knees, preparing for your next jump onto the platform. **

You can also watch this video of a totally hot lady showing you how to do it, if you hate reading.

*Landing note: When you land, you should be like a ninja. Not like a “User Interface Ninja” or a “Social Media Ninja” or any other stupid, fake, not-ninja ninjas people claim on their business cards in San Francisco. Land like a real ninja. Be as light and quiet as possible. I should not hear you land. If I were in the same room but not looking at you, I would think you had given up and are taking a nap, because I do not hear your feet slamming onto the stepper as you land on it. Not one bit. This is to protect your knees and reduce strain on joints as you’re landing.

**Jump-down note: If you feel yourself getting a little tired, try the jump up / step down method. You get most of the benefits of the box jump, but at a greatly reduced risk of injuries to your knees or ankles (mainly the Achilles) that can occur when form starts to falter. If you feel that you’re starting to land hard on the way down, just step down. No one wants to deal with an injury.

WHAT’S SO GOOD ABOUT THESE THINGS?

Box jumps are a great way to increase your heart rate realfast, making it a great addition to any circuit training, or as a quick cardio burst after you do some lifting. Here’s why they effing rock:

  • Plyometric Training: also called “plyos” if you’re a douche (or just a Millennial). Plyometrics are exercises that involve exerting as much energy as possible from muscles in a very short amount of time, essentially rapidly stretching the muscle and then shortening it (this is the explosive part). This has been shown to greatly improve muscle power. It’s something I incorporate into almost every workout; it’s super efficient and challenging.
  • Wail On Those Legs: The main “explosive” muscle fibers used in the box jump are the glutes, quads, and hamstrings. Your calves also do a lot of the lifting. If memory serves me correctly, those muscles span your whole damn leg. Your legs are gonna be super strong, you guys.
  • Hey, Abs Too: Anything that requires balance means you’re using your core, and this shit is nothing but jumping and landing while trying not to fall. You’ll work your abs and hip flexors as you pull your legs up onto the platform after extending them and jumping upwards.
  • Your Muscles Can Go All Night Long: Plyometrics increase your muscular endurance. It doesn’t just increase the amount of muscle tissue, it makes more efficient use of muscle tissue that is already there. Your muscles become more powerful, not bigger.
  • Sports and Stuff: If any of you are training for an actual sport or event, this is the exercise for you. You’ll be better at jumping off quickly, which means any sport that requires a quick start or reactive movement (or jumping) can benefit from this kind of training.

So, get on it you guys. Try doing 5 sets of 5 if you’re a first timer, or incorporating a minute of these into one of your circuits. Remember to start low, and if you can comfortably do 10 without bending your knees below a 135 degree angle when you land (essentially, not going too low in your squat), add another riser to your jazzercise stepper, and try 10 more. I’m up to 7 risers, hoping to get up to 8 risers (20 inches) by the end of the summer. If I’m doing circuits and doing 20 at a time, I’ll stick with 4 or 5 risers. Start out with two risers (8 inches total) to get the hang of this.

Y’all like these box jumps?

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