Box jumps might be one of the scariest things you do in the gym. We all know at least one person who missed the box and ended up losing half the skin on their shin. (Um… ow?) In this blog, you’re going to learn exactly how to do box jumps, step by step, so that you can approach the movement safely and confidently.

BTW, we know that the fear is real. If you want to protect your legs before you start practicing, consider getting yourself a pair of shin guards.

Grab your plyo box and let’s get to work.

How to Do Box Jump: A 5-Step Breakdown

Let’s start at the beginning!

1. Position Yourself at the Box

You need to be far enough from the box so that when you squat, your knees don’t hit it. However, you need to be close enough to actually land on the box. For most athletes, standing approximately a foot or so away is a safe bet.

In terms of your stance, your feet should be roughly hip-width apart. Of course, yours might be slightly different depending on your body proportions. However, if your stance is too narrow or too wide, it’s going to make it harder to squat and jump.

2. Squat and Send Your Arms Back

You’re not going into a full squat here. That’s wasted energy and will actually slow you down. Rather, it’s closer to a quarter squat. Considering the box jump height standards, for taller boxes, you might need to squat a little deeper.

When it comes to the box jump muscles used, we tend to look at this as a lower-body exercise. And overwhelmingly, it is. However, executing a box jump without using your upper body is going to be a lot harder. Take advantage of the power that you can generate with your arms! As you squat down, send your arms back in preparation for your jump.

And speaking of…

3. Jump Up onto the Box

Now comes the fun (and terrifying part). Get ready to jump!

male athlete learning how to do box jumps

Your quarter-squat built tension in your quads that you’re now going to release and use to drive yourself upward and slightly forward. You’ll also drive your arms forward to help with speed and momentum. Remember, you only need to jump high enough to clear the edge of the box and land safely on it. Aim to land with your whole feet on the box. This drastically reduces the odds of missing the box and scraping your shins. Your position upon landing on the box should mimic your position at take-off: legs slightly bent. Think of landing as softly as possible. Ideally, your feet don’t make that much noise when they hit the box.

Pro tip: Look where you want to go. Since you want to land on the box, keep your eyes on the prize: the box. More often than not, your body goes where your eyes go.

Once you’ve landed on the box, stand up so that you’re at full extension — meaning your body is straight.

athlete learning how to do box jumps

Did that feel absolutely horrifying? Here’s a cool little trick. Record yourself or have a buddy record you performing your box jumps. You’ll likely see that you can jump much higher than you think you can. This is great for building confidence.

4. Get Down from the Box

Now, one thing we’re a fan of with box jumps for beginners is stepping down from the box, rather than jumping down. When you’re getting off the box, you’re doing it backward, which means you don’t get to see what you’re doing or where you’re going. Understandably, this can be intimidating for some athletes! So, first, get more comfortable with the sensation by stepping down one foot at a time.

Once you’re feeling more confident, try jumping down. Yes, this is indeed a jump. At the top of the box, bend your knees slightly and hop off. (This part might come to you very naturally.) Jumping down with straight legs isn’t as efficient and not the greatest for your joints. You want to keep your knees and ankles soft.

5. Repeat for Reps

In all likelihood, if your workout calls for box jumps, you’re going to be doing a lot more than one. Now, there’s nothing wrong with doing one jump, landing back on the ground, taking a breath, resetting, and doing the next rep. In fact, if you’re new to box jumps, this is exactly how you should look at it. One rep at a time. Baby steps.

However, once you’re ready to start stringing together reps and do box jumps unbroken, your approach should change just slightly. While it might seem odd (and even incorrect), consider the top of the box your starting position. What we mean is this: Take a breath on top of the box, jump down, and immediately rebound back onto the box. You’re like a spring, and you’re bouncing off the ground, not the box.

This is better than landing back on the ground, taking a breath, and going into the next rep. The reason for this is simple: gravity. When you pause on the ground, you have to work up a lot more power to get moving again. If you pause on top of the box, when you start that next rep, gravity is actually working in your favor.

So, your reps might look like this:

  • Jump up on the box. Take a breath.
  • Jump down and up. Take a breath.
  • Jump down and up. Take a breath.

And so on. This approach is going to help you do box jumps for sets and reps.

Now that you know how to do box jumps, you’re ready to attack them like a total pro. Practice means progress, and always be patient with yourself. If you need to grab your shin guards and a plyo box, we’ve got you covered. Shop with The WOD Life today!