How to Crush Box Jumps — and a Box Jump Workout to Hone Your Skills

Just one killer move packs all the benefits of a strength and cardio workout.

When you've got limited time at the gym, exercises such as the box jump will be your saving grace — they're a surefire way to hit multiple muscles at once and get a serious cardio benefit at the same time. Aside from working your muscles from head to toe, box jump workouts (demonstrated here by NYC-based trainer Rachel Mariotti) also challenge you to work on athletic skills such as agility, balance, and coordination.

"This exercise is meant to be a full-body movement — ideally quick, explosive, and controlled," says Stephany Bolivar, a CrossFit coach and personal trainer at ICE NYC at the time of this article's original publication. The best part? You don't need to have a special plyometric box to do it. Any elevated, flat, and stable surface will do, such as stairs or a park bench. (BTW, here are more plyometric exercises to work into your routine.)

Box Jump Workout Benefits and Variations

Box jumps are a full-body endeavor: 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 the jump, 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, recommends Bolivar. And BTW, 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 box jump workouts — and especially if you're a little nervous to attempt the move — 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 to level up, try a low box or a stair step before you move to a taller surface. (This plyometric workout for beginners is a great place to start building strength for a jump box workout.)

As you become more comfortable with the box jump, you can use taller boxes or try to do 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. Or, to make it more 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 plyo box (or another elevated surface) with feet shoulders-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 knees and extending hips. Carefully step back down to the ground to return to starting position.

Do 2 to 3 sets of 3 to 5 reps.

Box Jump Workout 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.

6 Box Jump Workout Moves

Box jumps are far from the only thing you can do with a plyo box; in fact, these platforms can make just about any move more heart-pumping or hardcore. "Each rep forces your body to recruit more muscles to either catch air or sink lower into exercises like squats," says trainer Adam Kant, an NCSA-certified personal trainer and the founder of Intrepid Gym in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Below, try Kant's incinerating box jump workout circuit — aim to do it four times through — and take your power to the next level.

Power Pistol Squat

Targets: butt and legs

A. Stand facing the box with elbows bent by sides. Step onto the box with right foot so that it's close to the left edge, with left leg slightly in front of body alongside the box.

B. Slowly bend right knee 90 degrees, lowering left heel toward the floor and tapping down if possible. Extend arms forward to counterbalance.

C. Return to standing and quickly step back to starting position.

Do 14 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

(Love a good unilateral challenge? Try the mega-challenging pistol squat.)

Multilevel Push-Up

Targets: shoulders, chest, biceps, and abs

A. Start in a high plank position with left palm on the floor and right palm on the box near the left edge.

B. Do a push-up, lowering chest toward the floor, then pressing back up to starting position.

C. Walk hands and feet to the right, placing right palm near the right edge of the box, left palm near the left edge of the box, and stepping feet toward the right.

D. Do a push-up atop the box, then walk hands and feet to the right again so that left palm is on the box near the right edge and right palm is on the floor.

E. Do a push-up. That's one rep.

Do 3 reps.


Targets: shoulders, triceps, and abs

A. Sit on the front edge of the box, palms resting on the box on either side of hips. Straighten arms and shift hips foward to just in front of the box with knees bent, heels on the floor.

B. Bend elbows 90 degrees behind body, lowering hips toward the floor while bringing left knee toward chest.

C. Straighten arms, lowering left leg to the floor. Switch sides; repeat. That's one rep.

Do 14 reps.

To make this move harder, start with legs extended, heels on the floor, and lift left leg parallel to the floor.

Box Crunch

Targets: abs

A. Sit on the box with arms by sides. Balancing on butt and bringing arms slightly out to sides, lean torso back 45 degrees and extend legs forward so that body forms an almost straight line.

B. Crunch up, bringing knees in toward chest while reaching arms forward.

C. Return to reclining position and repeat.

Do 14 reps.

To make this move easier, keep palms flat on the box.

Decline Side Plank

Targets: shoulders, abs, and butt

A. Start in a side plank position on the floor, torso propped up on right forearm, feet stacked left over right atop the box with hips lifted off the floor.

Hold for 30 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.

To make this move harder, lift left leg off the box while holding the plank.

Burpee Box Jump

Targets: arms, abs, butt, and legs

A. Stand behind the box and squat, placing palms shoulders-width apart on the floor in front of feet.

B. Jump feet back into a high plank position.

C. Quickly jump both feet forward near hands.

D. From the squat position, jump onto the box (step closer to the box first, if necessary).

E. Jump back down from the box to return to starting position.

Do 14 reps.

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