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Plyometrics are absolutely the best way to develop explosive power and strength, improve coordination and balance, and burn mega-calories, and one of the best plyo moves around is the box jump. If you’re not used to it, however, jumping onto a box might be a bit scary, so here are step-by-step instructions to help you get acquainted with this incredible lower-body blaster.
1. Stand facing the box about 1 to 1½ feet away with your feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides. You don’t want to be too far away from the box or you’ll jump more forward than upward, and you also don’t want to be too close or you might trip on the box as you jump up.
2. Drop quickly into a quarter squat while reaching your arms back. This is the “loading” phase during which you put your muscles on a quick stretch and get them ready to explode and drive you upward.
3. From the quarter squat, quickly extend your hips and legs and explode upward, swinging your arms forward and jumping onto the box. Your takeoff position and landing position should look similar, with your back straight, your knees bent and your hips back.
4. Land with both feet completely on top of the box quietly, like a cat. Don’t “stomp” on top of the box, which can cause trauma to your joints and connective tissues.
5. Once on top, stand up straight and extend your knees and hips before stepping or jumping lightly off the box.
6. Don’t allow your knees to cave in when you jump onto or off the box. They should always stay over your toes to protect your joints and generate the most power from your leg muscles.
Tip: Think of your lower body as a spring, compressing and then uncoiling quickly to pop you on top of the box, then compressing as you land and uncoiling to stand you back up straight. This kind of visualization will help you keep your knees soft and your hips in motion throughout the move.
Do it better Use your arms to help propel you upward. Think about catching a basketball rebound to help get you in the right frame of mind.
Beginner tip: Take baby steps when learning to box-jump. First, step up and step down off the box for a set. Then step up and jump off for a set, and then jump up and step off for a set. Once you’re comfortable, try jumping onto and off the box.