Box jump variations for different training goals

By Sam Thielen, MS, CSCS

Plyo Boxes are extremely effective tools with a wide variety of uses. Not only can an athlete use a variety of different jumping techniques, but the pace at which jumps are performed and the number of repetitions per set can vary greatly, depending on the goal. Below are descriptions of a few variations that can be implemented in an athlete’s training program.

Standing Box Jump

Certified strength and conditioning specialist, Sam Thielen, at Sanford POWER in Fargo, NDThis is one of the most common variations used to increase vertical jump height and reinforce proper jumping mechanics. To begin, stand 1-2 feet from the box with their arms in the air. The focus of the jump should be on generating as much speed as possible while swinging the arms down and sinking the hips and then reversing the motion to jump as high as possible above the box. Land softly in a squat position on top of the box. Generating speed and maximizing extension of the ankles, knees, and hips is the primary goal of this variation. Use multiple sets of low reps in order to maximize jump height and speed on each rep.

Approach Box Jump

The approach box jump is essentially the same as the standing box jump; however, 1-2 steps are taken to “approach” the box before jumping. This is a very realistic movement as the majority of jumps in athletics are executed while moving. The focus of the jump should still be on speed as you load and jump. Most athletes will be able to jump higher with an approach than from the standing position. Use multiple sets of low reps in order to maximize jump height and speed on each rep.

Single Leg Box Jump

This jump variation is executed almost identically to the standing box jump, again, except that it is performed on one leg at a time. To maintain balance, it can be helpful to swing the arms outside of the standing leg while loading. Because you will jump, off and land on the same leg, box height should be reduced to an appropriate level. Single leg jumps help reinforce proper technique with each leg individually, which can help reduce any imbalance that may exist between legs. Use multiple sets of low reps in order to maximize jump height and speed on each rep.

Seated Box Jump

Seated box jumps are an excellent way to focus on lower body power and force generation because they begin from a “dead start” position. Begin in a seated position on a box about 2-3 feet from the landing box. Using a seat that puts the thighs parallel to the floor is more challenging than sitting above parallel. The arm swing and trunk lean are the same as a standing jump, but remain seated until the arms begin to swing upward and ankle, knee, and hip extension begin. A slightly shorter landing box should be used than during the standing box jump, as this variation is more challenging. The primary goal of the seated box jump is to work on generating force from the “dead start” position while still maximizing triple extension at takeoff. For an added challenge, try placing your hands on your hips throughout the jump! Use multiple sets of low reps in order to maximize jump height and speed on each rep.

Split Box Jump

This variation in great for working on single leg take-offs and sprint starts. Begin this jump with one foot on top of a box that puts the knee and hip close to parallel. Next, swing the arms down and up while you jump upward off the top leg. Switch legs in the air so the opposite leg lands on the box, and subsequently, the other leg lands softly on the ground. Repeat the arm swing and takeoff on the opposite leg for the desired number of repetitions. The Split Box Jump can be performed using low reps for maximum jump height and power production, or using high reps for conditioning.