The box jump is a quintessential power exercise, and it’s one you’ll see lots of your favorite fitness influencers doing on a regular basis.
Before you start trying to hop up onto a box, though, remember that this exercise isn’t a good option for everyone. Read on to learn about some box jump alternative exercises you can add to your workouts instead.
Benefits of the Box Jump
Before we dive into some box jump substitute options, let’s briefly go over why you might want to include box jumps in your workouts.
What benefits do they offer?
The following are some of the primary reasons why people practice box jumps:
- Increased strength in the lower body and core
- Improved endurance and cardiovascular health
- More explosiveness and better power output
- Improved vertical jump and coordination
Box jumps are also a good cross-training exercise if you’re involved in sports, especially those like basketball or volleyball, that require a lot of jumping.
Are You Ready for a Box Jump?
Before you can try a box jump, it’s important that you’ve first mastered some prerequisites. The following are some of the most important exercises to learn to do with good form before you tackle box jumps:
- Air squats
- Weighted squats
- Bodyweight lunges
If you struggle with these exercises, or if you lack strength and stability in your ankles or knees, you’re probably not ready for box jumps yet. That doesn’t mean you can’t still work on your strength and explosiveness, though.
Top 8 Box Jump Alternative Exercises
The following are some excellent box jump alternatives that you can add to your next workout. Whether you’re looking for substitutes to box jumps at home or the gym, these are good options to consider:
If you’re a beginner, one of the best exercises that makes a great alternative to box jumps is a basic squat. Before you even think about trying to jump onto a box, you ought to be able to perform a bodyweight squat (or air squat) with good form. What does this look like?
Some basic tenets of a good squat include the following:
- Feet are approximately hip-width apart
- Toes face forward or slightly turned out
- Feet stay flat on the floor (toes and heels do not rise up)
- Chest stays lifted and back remains flat
- Knees bend, so hips are at least parallel with the floor, if not lower
Once you can do a bodyweight squat properly, you can progress to adding weight to it. This could be in the form of dumbbells, kettlebells, or a barbell.
In addition to squats, it’s also a good idea for you to master variations of the lunge before taking on box jumps. Lunges are a highly functional exercise that strengthens the muscles of the legs along with the core muscles (the same muscles you use in a box jump).
Another great thing about lunges is that there are lots of ways you can mix them up to challenge yourself and improve your overall fitness. Work on the following types of lunges (in order from easiest to most challenging):
- Static lunges (or split squats):
- Reverse lunges (stepping backward into a lunge position)
- Forward lunges (stepping forward into a lunge position)
- Walking lunges
Master these lunges using only your bodyweight, then move on to adding dumbbells, kettlebells, or a barbell to make them harder. When you’re lunging (in any direction), aim to keep your knee in line with your toes and don’t let it extend forward past your ankle. Make sure your chest stays lifted, too.
If you’re ready to elevate your lower body exercises and move beyond squats and lunges, consider starting with step-ups. Step-ups help you get comfortable with being on a box, but they’re not as scary (or as difficult) as box jumps. They’re very functional, too (how many times do you step up onto something or climb stairs throughout the day?).
Start with a very low box or step and only your bodyweight. Move slowly to avoid losing your balance (this also helps you work on your ankle stabilization, which will come in handy when it’s time to move on to box jumps. Over time, you can add weight and/or raise the height of the box to increase the difficulty of this exercise.
Looking for a jump box? Read our guide here.
4. Trap Bar Deadlift
Trap bar (or hex bar) deadlifts are an incredible exercise for strengthening the lower body. They target the hamstrings, glutes, and quads, all of which are used when jumping onto a box.
Need to buy a trap bar? Read our guide here.
There are lots of ways to make the trap-bar deadlift more explosive, too. If you’re looking to working on increasing your speed, reactivity, and power output, there are plenty of variations to try, including the following:
Trap bar power shrug
This involves doing a shrug and slight jump with the trap bar as you’re pulling it up off the floor
Trap bar jump
This is similar to the power shrug, but you’re taking out the shrug and increasing the jump to work on improving your vertical
Trap bar high pull
This is a full-body exercise that improves your explosiveness and transfers very well to Olympic lifting exercises like power cleans and snatches
With all of these exercises, you should use very light weights so you can focus on your form and avoid injuring yourself. Work on mastering the deadlift before moving on to any of the more advanced variations.
5. Squat Push-Press
A squat push-press allows you to use all the same muscles as the box jump while also getting your upper body involved in the movement. Your feet don’t even have to leave the ground, either.
When doing this exercise, start with a pair of dumbbells and hold them at your shoulders (like you would for a dumbbell squat). Perform a normal squat, then, once you’ve stood up, squeeze the glutes and use the lower body to help you drive the arms up over the head and perform a push-press.
The goal of this exercise is for you to move quickly and explosively. Once you’re comfortable with the movement, pick a weight that’s somewhat challenging so that you’re required to use your whole body to push it up overhead.
6. Tuck Jumps
Maybe you’ve mastered some of these other exercises and want to work on jumping. You might not have a box to jump on, though, or you might still not feel prepared for box jumps. That’s okay because there are lots of other ways to improve your jumping skills and explosiveness. For example, you can add tuck jumps to your workouts.
A tuck jump is a good practice exercise to help you work your way up to a box jump. It strengthens your legs and glutes while also increasing your stamina.
- When doing tuck jumps, start as you would for a normal squat with your feet hip-distance apart.
- Then, do a half-squat and jump up into the air while pulling your knees in toward your chest.
- When returning to the ground, land in a half-squat position again to avoid straining the knees and ankles.
7. Broad Jumps
Broad jumps are another good jumping exercise to have in your arsenal. The goal of a broad jump is to jump as far forward as you can, rather than trying to jump up onto a box or high in the air. They can be less intimidating than box jumps, but they still provide lots of benefits to your lower body strength and power output.
- Prepare for broad jumps the same way you would for tuck jumps.
- Instead of jumping up, though, propel your body forward and land with both feet on the ground at the same time (with knees bent in a half-squat position).
- Use your arms to help push yourself as far forward as possible.
8. Squat Jumps
Finally, consider giving squat jumps a go if you aren’t ready for or don’t want to do box jumps. Squat jumps are very similar to box jumps, but, like tuck jumps, they’re a lot less intimidating. They also lend themselves well to those who don’t have boxes or steps to use for box jumps.
- Start your squat jumps with your feet hip-distance apart and arms above your head.
- As you lower into a squat, bring your arms down and behind you to help you gain momentum.
- Then, push yourself off the ground and as high into the air as you can while raising your arms overhead.
- Land with both feet on the ground at the same time, and the knees bent in a half squat position so you can get set up for your next jump.
Try These Exercises Today
There are lots of benefits that come with incorporating box jumps into your workouts. They’re not for everybody, though, and these box jump alternative exercises are great options to try instead.
They’ll help you strengthen your muscles and develop more power and explosiveness, but in a lower-impact way that won’t irritate your knees or put you at risk of injuring yourself during your workouts. Try them out today!