Is there a lift or exercise that you struggle with? And I just don’t mean it’s a weak-point but that it paralyzes you and almost can’t even force yourself to do it.
Can you picture an exercise where this kind of scenario exists? Or not even an exercise but something physical such as jumping out of a plane or going cliff diving.
I’m sure there are a number of people that never make the jump. And this is how it is for some people with box jumps.
You can sometimes feel as though your feet are nailed to the floor. You take a moment to mentally prepare yourself. You visualize yourself successfully landing the jump. You load up, swing the arms back then straighten your body as you are about to leave the ground but don’t.
Now to make matters worse imagine having failed at a box jump in the past. If this happened on a regular plyo box, and not a soft box, then it’s awful the damage this can do to the shins. And while the physical scars will heal the memory carries with it the experience of what happened last time. Try and force your body to do this again in the future and you’ll see what it looks like when you can’t get yourself to do something.
So besides switching to soft safety plyo boxes (which every gym should do) what else can you do to get over a missed plyo box jump and bring them back into your training?
Below are 4 Tips for Successfully Completing Box Jumps
1. Fully Commit
When I see someone miss a box jump they failed because they quit on the jump before they even left the ground. They set up properly. They loaded up. They used a great arm swing. And as they started to push off the ground to jump up to the box they didn’t complete the push off.
It’s as though they were standing on hot coals and wanted off the ground as quickly as possible. And while the idea of being quick off the ground is great we don’t want to miss out on the power of the big toe. In order to fully extract all the power for the jump we need to forcibly push the floor down with the big toes. Not sure what I mean? Try this test.
Stand up and with your big toes off the ground, jump and try and touch the ceiling. This is assuming this a ceiling height you could normally touch when you jump. Now try the jump again but this time push the big toes hard through the floor as you jump. You should notice a big difference.
Next time you step up to a box make sure to push the floor away with the big toes to tap into all your power.
2. Use an Approach
Let’s use another analogy for this one.
If you were a volleyball player would you stand right at the next for a set or back up a few feet to have an approach before you hit? Obviously you would use an approach.
As you build up in height of the boxes there will come a point where it’s a bit more of a challenge. At this point use an approach, similar to a volleyball hit. For me it’s left foot step, right foot step, two foot jump. Yours might be the opposite depending on your dominant side. Either way give this a go for your first attempt. Often times it’s a mental block more than anything to completing a jump and getting a successful attempt under your belt makes the next one way easier.
3. Think Strong Arms
In the same way that it’s hard to jump with your big toes off the ground it’s really hard to jump without your arms. And while almost everyone moves their arms when they jump not everyone takes full advantage of the arm swing.
The arms help us to balance ourselves but also helps to propel us upwards. While most people can’t recall Newton’s Laws they can recall the sentence ‘for every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction’. In other words the more push we put into the ground the more push back there is. The more we stretch the jumping muscles the more potential there is for them to contract.
Don’t use just your legs when jumping. Push hard with your legs and throw the arms down hard and fast to load up as much as possible.
4. Get Stronger
Carrying on with the previous point, jumping comes down to producing as much force as we can into the ground as quickly as possible. So there are two components here to consider. How strong are you? And how fast are you? Most people lack the pre-requisite strength to do plyometrics but want to start here with their training.
I remember attending a conference in Colorado Springs on strength training and hearing an expert from Germany talk about assessing strength for plyometrics. His test involved stepping of a box and jumping up. When they measured how long the athlete was on the ground they could determine the maximal height for box jumps. If the athlete got stronger they could use a higher box as they had the strength to reduce the ground reaction forces upon landing.
The next time you are going to do some box jumps keep these tips in mind. They will help you jump higher and have fewer missed attempts.