The Box Jump ... Ami ou Ennemi?

Something to think about ... is what you're getting from the box jump what you think?

The popularity of the box jump seem to put the exercise at the top of most people’s list of plyos. Perhaps rightfully so and perhaps not. By the end of this post you will be able to discern and make up your own mind on the topic.

Misconceptions #1 : Inappropriate Exercise

The real reason we do a box jump is to work on propulsion, production of force, and not so much force absorption. We’re accumulating less stress on the landing because we are going up 18” lets say, but we are not coming back down those 18”. The misconception is that they are used for the wrong purpose. Ability to absorb as well as attain a good position on that landing is far less common and less sharpened skill than the ability to produce force. Almost everyone jumps well, almost no one lands well. One could also make the case that we get far more benefit out of the landing than the jump.

Misconceptions #2 : Landing Position determines Box Height

This one may seem trivial but it might be the most important in this list.

Misconceptions #3 : Safety Concerns : What happens when the box is too high?

What’s the point seeing how high a box you can jump on top of? If it were to be made into a competitive event, it seems reasonable to have some sort of high jump like in track and field or even some opposite version of limbo. Box jumps are a training tool not an event. In the most controlled setting of health and sport, the weight room, there’s no reason to see how high a box you can jump up to.

Landing in a deep squat position is a torn labrum waiting to happen. It’s instilling a poor movement pattern. It’s potentially bad for the spine. And anyone without a deep hip socket is begging for a cranky capsule.

Misconceptions #4 : It’s NOT a Conditioning Tool

This thing is not for activity that is heart rate intensive. (I do misspeak in vide #4, yes, it’s still a plyometric). Plyometrics are for max force production. You cannot produce max force when you’re out of breath, it will not happen. If this is the case, then what are you training while being out of breath and doing box jumps? Are you training poor to mediocre reps? And if so then what are you getting out of them? What is the training affect? Real question.

Misconceptions #5 : Accumulation of Contacts

I cannot tell you the regularity of HIIT/Crossfit people telling me about the workout they just went through where they did 100 box jumps. What does this accomplish? Real question here too. What was the reasoning for 100 reps?

Number of contacts is a way to quantify stress imposed by plyometrics. You might reduce stress by using box jumps because you’re not dropping as far after the height reached from the initial jump, however this does NOT mean you get to do endless contacts in one workout. To do so would be dangerous and asking for a result you’d rather not have, also known as a consequence. If you’re going to work hard, you might as well work smart.

#6 : How to do a Box Jump

Get up as high as you can and stick the landing like the ninja, no noise, ready to move.

It also must be noted that position reigns as primary objective. If the body cannot get into a position it will not be able to go full tilt. Think of standing on the side of your foot. Your body will not let your hip and leg put full force into that foot. Why? The body has a few million years of evolution on us. It’s smart. It’s not going to give you full force production because it’d snap your ankle. This positioning concept is the same thing on a less dramatic scale. Not being in great position, because your body can’t get there yet or due to sloppy reps, either way, you won’t be able to produce the force you want unless you’re in position. You also want to be training for and with good position because you always get a result. You’re getting better at bad reps or better with good reps. Pick.

With all this said, box jumps have their place in many people’s programs but definitely not all, and probably far less than most The box is not as profound as it’s been made out to be.

Here’s a list of prerequisite exercises to the box jump in succession of how you might progress a healthy, qualified for and ready to begin person to using plyometrics. To really know the path of best progress, we'd have to know where to start, and that is 100% dependent on the initial assessment. If you're interested in finding out where best fits you and your circumstance, click here to claim you complimentary Starting Point Session with an expert coach at Grit Gym.

OH Slam to Floor / Deceleration Jump

1leg OH Slam to Floor / Deceleration Hop

Jump+Suspension Trainer : Lateral/Linear

Hop+Suspension Trainer : Lateral/Linear

Precision Jumps : Lateral/Linear

Precision Hops : Lateral/Linear

Hurdle Jumps : Lateral/Linear

Hurdle Hops : Lateral/Linear

Furthering the complexity beyond this you might get into depth jumps, box jumps or combinations of. But we’re not trying to force an adaptation. This is a matter or coaxing the body to give us the adaptation we want. Forcing your body into submission by asking it to do what it cannot yet do is a silly way to make no progress and get injured.

Keep in mind that all of this depends on the individual. A 68year old female that’s never exercised a day in her life will probably not need any sort of plyometric, she needs to focus on strength. And when plyo’s are introduced, it might be something as simple as a lateral shuffle, carioca or some kind of ladder drill. Where as a healthy 22year old that played a collegiate sport is going to want to start further along the progression.

The people that can benefit from box jumps do not need to be incorporating them more than maybe 1-3months out of their years worth of training. The main point of this post is to think it through. What is the reason for adding this exercise and what adaptation are we coaxing the body towards? Plyo’s are a great way to impose a stress upon the body that the body will respond to while it’s recovering and give you the ability to run faster and jump higher. However, this has to be stress by design and not by chance.

To get see where is best for you to begin, click here: to get signed up for your complimentary Starting Point Session.

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