Box Jumps: Training versus Testing

I'm all for box jumps. Fitness gear companies want to sale us on various tubing, hydraulic pistons, vests, and computerized gadgetry that fail to achieve what simple gravity and a small change in elevation can.

Take, for example, the Vertimax Trainer. It costs in the realm of $3000, and is necessary when the force of gravity just isn't enough to pull you into the earth.

But please be careful know what you're getting into. Be aware of the differences between box jumps as a training modality and box jumps as a test and display of awesomeness. The ratio of risk to reward exists on a sliding scale for every person.

If you currently earn a living (or scholarship) by playing a sport, and want to improve in that sport, you should probably be doing box jumps as a training modality while avoiding them as a display of awesomeness. And that includes repeated box jumps for time.

Most serious athletes need only concern themselves with the center of gravity.
They can do this without the cool/risky circus antics.
Why are simple box jumps so great?

A box (or picnic table, etc) demands that you commit to the jump with an explosive effort towards an objective end. The box mitigates landing impact, so it's a great place to learn how to take off and land well. Next you may want to learn how to land well from jumping over a small box (or hurdle). For even more overload and benefit to the central nervous system,  drop off a box and immediately jump back up. You will gradually learn how to decelerate your body mass and quickly attain proper control and position for an even more powerful second jump.

If you do box jumps well, and not too often, and not in a state of high fatigue, the risk is low and the benefit toward the coveted "explosive power" is tremendous.

But again, you need to build up (height, repetition, and impact) very gradually. Do not do them in a state of fatigue! Many feet and knees and Achilles tendons have suffered the wrath of box jumps done too intensely, too soon, and too often.

Mike Boyle Says...

World-renowned strength and conditioning coach Mike Boyle recently claimed that box jumps over 30-inches are foolish. He said they're done by those looking to show off and/or get a skin graft, and athletes can achieve a tremendous training effect while saving themselves unnecessary risk by using a far more conservative, unimpressive box. He emphasized landing well in the position that you jumped from (without the extreme tuck). On all of these points I agree.

BUT the other half of the coin...

A high box is an event. I'm not claiming that it's the safest training modality but it sure makes for an awesome test. Jumping on top of something in a flash is a conquering of ... gravity? ...the environment? ...fear? ...it's a conquering of something that non-professional athletes can relish in!  It provides a sense of a accomplishment that most traditional strength and power exercises cannot deliver. Some things are worth the small risk. Avoid metal boxes.

"Do you see how high that thing is? Well now he's standing on it."

Did you ever visualize the world as a series of challenges where every desk, platform, wall, and fence is classified as something that you could or could not leap onto or over? Yeah, neither have I ; ).

Here are a few examples:

A world record attempt. "Can you all move your car?"

1 comment:

  1. You are so entertaining Bob...and very smart, though.