Box jumps are one of the most popular plyometric exercises, but also one of the most controversial plyometric training exercises.
Box jumps offer some benefits that other plyometric drills don’t offer, therefore the question ‘How to build a jump box for Plyometrics’ is an interesting question for those doing their plyometric training at home or want to save costs and build their own jump box for plyometric training.
This article covers
- The benefits and disadvantages of box jumps
- Important considerations when designing your own jump box for Plyometrics
- How to build a jump box for plyometrics
Do you need a plyometric jump box?
In the grand scheme of plyometric training and plyometric exercises box jumps are just one plyometric exercise out of many plyometric exercises. You can do a very effective plyometric training without a jump box. You can go a long way with your bodyweight and plyo hurdles of various sizes.
For more information on plyometric training exercises have a look at the articles
- How Plyometrics Increase Your Vertical
- Why understanding the Mechanics Behind Plyometric Training will make you jump like Michael Jordan
- 3 Steps to Develop your own Power Training Method
Why Box Jumps are dangerous
Well, if you have read any of my articles before I don’t really believe an exercise or activity is dangerous, much rather the execution of an exercise or the misuse of an exercise.
Plyometrics and plyometric exercises are no different. And with regards to the box jumps, I believe it’s one of the most misused plyometric drills.
I have experienced first-hand, athletes breaking hands, breaking wrists, scratching their shins so that you can almost see the bone and many more things.
What is the reason for that?
Somehow the height of the box gives athletes a reference or benchmark. So, if they could jump to a 60 cm box and can now jump to a 90-centimeter box, they have improved, correct?
Well, not really. Because you can use a different strategy to achieve this. Just have a look at the Article recommendations week #38 2016 , where I shared a picture of Lachlan Wilmot demonstrating that a jump to a higher box does not necessarily mean a higher jump.
Jump training needs to improve COM displacement, not hip mobility, a higher box doesn’t mean your jumping higher! pic.twitter.com/hEcKWcfjLZ
— Lachlan Wilmot (@lachlan_wilmot) September 23, 2016
My point is, I am not against athletes being ambitious – by no means! – neither am I against testing your limits once in a while, but I do believe that the box jump is not the right exercise for that.
With regards to testing your maximum jump height, I have seen
- athletes literally jumping into the box
- athletes landing halfway on the edge of the box and falling sideways or backward
- athletes not making the height and hitting the shins on the edges
The list could go on and on, again I am not against box jumps, but I believe the box jump is not a good exercise to test your maximal jumping ability.
If you want to test your jumping ability, there are various ways to do that.
If you don’t have a great deal of equipment, you can use a standing long jump or a vertical jump. When I was in school, we did the vertical jump next to a wall, put some chalk on your fingertips, reach to the highest point on the want you can reach vertically, put some chalk on the fingertips again jump and try to reach the highest point vertically and measure the distance between the two points.
Well, is that very accurate you might be asking. No, but better than a broken wrist that takes you out of your training for a couple of weeks.
If you want to invest into equipment you can look at a yardstick or an Abalakov jump belt. The Abalakov belts are so old school, that you can hardly get them anymore, but they serve the purpose. Basically, it’s like a measuring tape attached to a belt and to a gadget o the ground and once you jump the measuring tape unreels and measures the distance.
If you want to have more accurate measurements, there are various devices out there you can use from contact mats, over position transducers, accelerometers to force plates that allow you to test your jumping ability.
Box Jumps are a great plyometric training exercise
Considering you are using the box jump wisely and you are not going crazy on jumping to a too high box, as I just outlined, box jumps are a great plyometric training exercise.
The box jump offers one benefit, that many other plyometric drills don’t offer, which is that they take out the impact of landing or better reduce the impact.
How does that work?
If you imagine you have a vertical jump of 80 centimeters and you perform a simple countermovement jump, you jump 80 centimeters up and land from 80 centimeters height, which results in an impact from a height of 80 centimeters.
Just as a simple example, if you would jump to a 60-centimeter box, you would jump 80 centimeters up and land on 60 centimeters, so the impact would be reduced to an impact from a height of 20 centimeters.
Again, that is just a simple example but showcases the point.
It is very important to note, that when you jump onto a box you don’t jump back down because then you did not take out the impact! You took it out upon landing on the box and you put it back in by jumping down. If you really want to reduce the impact, you need to jump onto the box and step down for the next repetition.
Bottom-line, if executed correctly and used wisely, the box jump can be a great plyometric exercise.
I use the box jump early in my plyometric training stream or plyometric training continuum, before introducing other plyometric drills with higher impact.
In addition to that, the box jump can also be used effectively to teach and learn proper jumping technique and landing technique.
So, what are the considerations for building a jump box for plyometrics?
Unfortunately, I am not very skilled at building and constructing things, therefore this article will not provide a step-by-step outline on how to build a jump box for plyometrics.
How to build a Jump Box for Plyometrics
However, I have seen enough athletes using boxes and also coached athletes from various sports how to jump onto a box or form a box, that I can offer some considerations what is important when building a jump box for plyometrics.
How to build a Jump Box for Plyometrics Consideration #1
Whether you want to jump onto the box or you want to jump off the box, you need to make sure the surface of the box is big enough. The last thing you want to worry about is whether you make the jump because the surface is too small. Also consider that you might want to do lateral box jumps at some point, where you tend to land in a bit of a wider landing position than with linear box jumps.
The surface should be at least 60 by 60 centimeters, if not 80 by 80 centimeters.
How to build a Jump Box for Plyometrics Consideration #2
From my experience, it has always been helpful, if the edges of the box were soft, rather than hard and sharp.
This can be achieved through either using a softer material or rounding the edges and put a kind of carpeting layer over the edges.
How to build a Jump Box for Plyometrics Consideration #3
Different type of jumps requires different heights of the boxes. For example, a single leg jump requires a lower box than a double leg jumps. Or a jump with rotation requires a lower box than a linear jump.
Possible solutions to that are either a box with adjustable heights or boxes with various heights.
Which brings me to the next point, storage.
How to build a Jump Box for Plyometrics Consideration #4
If you build different heights of boxes, consider it will take up a lot of space for storage.
Building boxes with adjustable heights or boxes that are stackable can help reduce the space for storage.
How to build a Jump Box for Plyometrics Consideration #5
Last but not least, you want to use the solid material. At some point you will be advanced and consider box jumps with the additional load, so make sure the material of the boxes is solid enough to support the weight.
Also, think about the longevity of the material, you want to use the jump box for a couple of years.
Concluding How to build a Jump Box for Plyometrics
If used and applied correctly, box jumps are a great tool in your toolbox of plyometric training exercises.
In order to perform box jumps safely and effectively, a jump box for plyometrics need to fulfill certain requirements, that you need to consider when you build a jump box for plyometrics.
More information on Plyometric Training
For more information read the article or visit the plyometric training video library