When you've got limited time in the gym, moves like the box jump will be your saving grace—a surefire way to hit multiple muscles at once and get a serious cardio benefit at the same time.
"This exercise is meant to be a full-body movement—ideally, quick, explosive, and controlled," says Stephany Bolivar, CrossFit coach and personal trainer at ICE NYC.
Aside from working your muscles from head to toe, the box jump (demonstrated here by NYC-based trainer Rachel Mariotti) also challenges you to work on athletic skills like agility, balance, and coordination. Best part: you don't need to have a special plyometric box to do this move. Any elevated, flat, and stable surface will do, like stairs or a park bench.
Box Jump Benefits and Variations
During the upward phase of this movement, you'll use your core, glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, and even arms to propel yourself onto the box. When you land, your quads will do most of the work. Make sure to stand up all the way when you get to the top of the box to get a full hip extension, says Bolivar. The explosive force used in this move taps into your powerful fast-twitch muscle fibers. (Here's more need-to-know muscle science.)
If you're new to the box jump (and especially if you're a little nervous to attempt it), build power by mastering plyometrics moves on the floor first. Jump squats, star jumps, split jumps, and tuck jumps will all help you develop the explosive strength needed to master the box jump. When you're ready, try a low box or a stair step before you move to a taller one.
As you become more comfortable with the box jump, you can use taller boxes or try them wearing a weighted vest (or even make it a box jump burpee), suggests Bolivar. Single-leg box jumps are another way to take this move up a notch. To make this move low impact, you can step onto the box, alternating which foot leads every rep, says Bolivar.
How to Do a Box Jump
A. Stand just in front of a box with feet shoulder-width apart.
B. Swing arms and hinge hips back with a tall chest, flat back, and engaged core.
C. Swing arms forward, using momentum to jump up and slightly forward, landing softly with both feet completely on the box.
D. Stand up, locking out the knees and extending hips. Carefully step back down to the ground.
Do 2 to 3 sets of 3 to 5 reps.
Box Jump Form Tips
- Try to land as softly as possible. (Harder and louder landings mean more pressure on your joints.)
- Control the descent onto the box by keeping your core engaged.
- To make sure you jump far enough forward, aim to land near the center of the box.