How to Master Box Jumps

Brittany Risher
by Brittany Risher
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How to Master Box Jumps

There are exercises we all love to hate, and, for many, box jumps are near (or at) the top of the list. It seems like a simple enough move — until you’re facing the box, wondering how in the world you’re going to propel yourself on top of something so high.

“Box jumps are hard for most of us for two reasons: fear and a lack of awareness and coordination in the body,” says Bergen Wheeler, national director of Core Fusion talent development for Exhale and co-creator of their Core Fusion Extreme class.

But with a few key tips and Wheeler’s step-by-step exercise progression below, you can work up to confidently leaping onto any box. “Box jumps are an incredible exercise,” she says. “They make you strong, they make you overcome your fears and they make you look really cool when you do them in front of your friends — you will be the envy of all of your friends and the gym or studio regulars!”


Wheeler says the keys to nailing box jumps are to:

  •      Jump on and off of the ground with both feet.
  •      Track your (bent) knees over your toes.
  •      Land with your feet flat, at least hips distance apart, with bent knees in a squat position.
  •      Use your arms to help lift you off the ground.
  •      Brace your core. (This is the most important step!)


Start with the first exercise (squat jumps), performing it every time you work out. “This should be done each time you set foot in the studio or gym. Incorporate it into your exercise regime,” Wheeler says. When you feel comfortable doing squat jumps, move onto the next exercise. Continue doing this, and soon you’ll be a box-jump master.


“Squat jumps with no box teach your body what it feels like to use your arms, land in a proper squat, activate your abs and to fully extend through your body in midair,” Wheeler says.

  • Start in a squat position with feet parallel, knees bent, hips in line with knees, weight in your heels and arms in front of you.
  • Swing your arms down while stretching your legs and jumping as high as you can. (Your body should be fully extended with arms down by your side.)
  • Land back in a squat position, swinging your arms back to the start position. Do 3 sets of 8–10 reps.


“This step will help you conquer the fear that you may have in attempting box jumps,” Wheeler explains. Choose a box that’s about 6 inches tall to practice what it’s like landing carefully in a squat.

  • Stand in front of a low plyo box and perform your squat jump, landing on the plyo box in a squat.
  • Step back down, and return to a squat position. Do 3 sets of 8–10 reps.


“Stepping up on the box you’re eyeing to jump is another crucial moment that will help you overcome your fears,” Wheeler says. Again, it’s important to start and end this movement in a squat and to also be in a squat on top of the box so you can become comfortable with this position.

  • Stand in front of the desired height plyo box. Squat, then step up one foot at the time on the plyo box, landing on the box in a squat.
  • Step back down, and return to a squat position. Do 3 sets of 8–10 reps.


Having someone to spot you can help alleviate your fears the first few times you do a box jump.

  • Have your teacher or trainer stand in front or beside you to spot you. (Wheeler actually holds her students’ hands on their first few reps.)
  • Perform your box jump. Do 3 sets of 8–10 reps.


Only attempt jumps on higher boxes when you are really comfortable jumping on a lower height. “Constant repetition will not only help you overcome your fears, but it will help you build strength in your legs and abs to then move on to a higher box,” Wheeler says.


In addition to the moves above, some basic exercises can help strengthen your legs and abs, which will make box jumps easier. Wheeler recommends abs exercises like planks. She also suggests squats, pliés, weighted lunges or exercises that combine lower-body and upper-body movement so you get comfortable using your arms in conjunction with your legs. Consider it cross-training for box jumps and do them as often as you wish. “If it were me, I would do it every day until I mastered what I wanted,” Wheeler says.


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About the Author

Brittany Risher
Brittany Risher

Brittany is a writer, editor and digital strategist specializing in health and lifestyle content. She loves experimenting with new vegan recipes and believes hummus is a food group. To stay sane from working too hard, she turns to yoga, strength training, meditation and scotch. Connect with her on TwitterInstagram, and Google+.


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