10 Box Jump Alternatives

Plyometrics or jump training is an effective way to develop lower body power and athleticism. There are also plyometric exercises for the upper body, such as clapping push-ups and medicine ball throws.

This type of training is popular for high-intensity interval training (HIIT), circuit training and is used by athletes from all sports to improve athletic performance.

Done for high reps, plyos, as they’re known, will drive your heart and breathing rate sky-high, which also means they could help you get fit and lose weight. They’re a common feature in many CrossFit workouts, too.

There are loads of different plyometric exercises, and one of the most popular is box jumps.

To do box jumps, stand in front of a knee-high bench or box. Bend your legs, swing your arms behind you, and then jump forward and up, so you land on top of the box. Step back down and repeat. The higher the box, the more challenging this exercise becomes.

While box jumps are very popular and effective, it’s important to know plenty of alternatives. After all, you might not always have a box to train with, or you might just get bored of doing them over and over again.

In this article, we reveal ten of the best box jump alternatives.

Box Jumps

Box jumps are popular for a reason – they work! But, before we take a look at the best box jump alternatives, let’s take a quick let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this CrossFit staple.

Pros

  1. woman jumping on a boxEasy to learn – there is nothing too complicated about this exercise, so they’re suitable for beginners.
  2. Scalable – raise or lower the box to match your abilities.
  3. Joint friendly – providing you don’t jump off the box, this is a relatively low-impact exercise.
  4. Works all major leg muscles – from your calves to your glutes and everything in between, box jumps involve all your essential leg muscles.
  5. Adaptable – do low reps using a high box to increase lower body strength and power, or high reps with a lower box for conditioning and fat burning.

Cons

  1. Equipment – as the name suggests, you’re going to need a box to do this exercise. Don’t worry, though; there are plenty of box-free options you can do instead.
  2. Accidents – if you fail to clear the box, you could trip and fall, injuring yourself in the process.
  3. Not suitable for overweight exercisers – heavy exercisers could find this move uncomfortable and even dangerous.
  4. Variety – as good as box jumps are, they’ll lose their potency if you do them too often, and you may even get bored of them.

10 Alternatives to Box Jumps

Liven up your workouts with these tried and tested box jump alternatives!

1. Squat jumps

When you do box jumps, you leap up and onto a raised platform, so you don’t have a whole lot of landing impact to contend with. But, if you have healthy joints and aren’t too heavy, you should be able to land without hurting yourself, and that’s where squat jumps come in.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes turned slightly outward.
  2. Squat down and then leap into the air. Use your arms for extra momentum.
  3. Land on slightly bent knees and repeat.

2. Step-ups

If you’ve got a box, but you don’t want to jump onto it, you can train the same lower body muscles with step-ups. As an advantage, this exercise will also improve your hip mobility and knee stability and ensure both your legs are equally strong.

How to do it:

  1. Stand facing a knee-high step.
  2. Place one foot on top of the box and step up onto it.
  3. Step down with the same leg and repeat.
  4. Do the required number of reps and then swap sides. Or, if you prefer, you can use an alternating leg action.

3. Leg presses

woman training with leg pressLeg presses might not look a lot like box jumps, but they use all of the same muscles.

However, with no impact at all, they’re a lot more joint-friendly. Most gyms have a leg press machine.

How to do it:

  1. Sit on the leg press with your feet on the footplate, roughly shoulder-width apart. Your back should be slightly arched and never rounded.
  2. Drive your feet into the footplate and straighten your legs.
  3. Bend your knees and repeat.

4. Lunge jumps

Lunge jumps are a lot like squat jumps, but you do them from a split stance. This makes them a little harder and more athletic.

How to do it:

  1. Step forward into a split stance.
  2. Bend both legs and lower your rearmost knee down to within an inch of the floor.
  3. Using your arms for extra momentum, jump up and into the air.
  4. Swap your legs in mid-air, so your front foot is at the back.
  5. Land on bent legs and repeat, switching legs again.

5. Jump rope

Box jumps aren’t the only jumping exercise you can use to get fit and lose weight. Jumping rope is an equally effective option and, for most exercisers, will be more joint-friendly.

How to do it:

  1. Holding the handles of your jump rope, stand with your feet together and the middle of the rope on the floor behind you.
  2. Using your wrists, flip the rope up and over your head. Jump over it as the rope approaches your feet.
  3. Keep the rope turning and continue jumping.
  4. Stay low – you only need to jump a couple of inches to clear the rope.

6. Thrusters

Thrusters are another popular CrossFit exercise. Like box jumps, they work your legs, but this move also builds upper body strength.

How to do it:

  1. Rest and hold a barbell across the front of your shoulders. You can also use dumbbells. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Squat down until your thighs are roughly parallel to the floor.
  3. Stand up and then push the weight(s) up and over your head.
  4. Lower the weight(s) back to your shoulders and repeat.

7. Kettlebell swings

Like thrusters, kettlebell swings are another great lower body exercise that shares many benefits with box jumps. However, unlike box jumps, kettlebell swings are entirely non-impact and work your glutes and hamstrings a little more.

How to do it:

  1. Hold a kettlebell in front of your hips and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend your legs, push your hips backward, and lower the weight between your knees. Do NOT round your lower back.
  3. Drive your hips forward, stand up, and swing the kettlebell forward and up to shoulder height. Keep your arms straight.
  4. Lower the weight and repeat.

8. Deepwater squat jumps

This might sound like a crazy exercise, but it’s a very joint-friendly leg power and conditioning exercise. However, you should only try it if you are a competent swimmer.

How to do it:

  1. Put a kettlebell in a swimming pool where the water is 1-2 feet deeper than your height.
  2. Enter the water, swim down, and grab the kettlebell. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, kettlebell on the floor.
  3. Extend your legs and jump upward, driving your head out of the water to take a breath.
  4. Sink back down to the bottom and repeat.

9. Wall squats

If you’ve got sore knees but still want to train your legs, this exercise may help. It’s an isometric or static exercise, which means it puts very little strain on your joints. However, it’s not such a good exercise for cardio or fat burning because you won’t be moving.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your back to a smooth wall. Lean against it and placed your feet about 12-18 inches in front of you.
  2. Bend your legs and slide your back down the wall until your thighs are roughly parallel to the floor.
  3. Hold this position – but not your breath – for as long as you can. And yes, the burning you can feel in your thighs is entirely normal!

10. Goblet squats

woman doing squatsAll types of squats work the same muscles as box jumps.

After bodyweight squats, goblet squats are arguably the easiest to learn and master. All you need for this exercise is a kettlebell or a single dumbbell.

How to do it:

  1. Hold your weight in front of your chest, just under your chin. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes turned slightly outward.
  2. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and descend until your thighs are roughly parallel to the floor. Do not round your lower back.
  3. Stand back up and repeat.

Bottom Line

There is no denying how effective box jumps can be. Whether you want to improve your lower body power, boost athleticism, or just burn calories and get fit, box jumps could help. They’re easy to learn, and all you need is a suitable box or bench to do them, making them accessible and effective.

However, as valuable as box jumps are, that doesn’t mean they’re compulsory or that they’re right for all exercisers. In fact, they’re just one of many exercises you can use to reach your training goals.

For some people, no box means this exercise is impossible and impractical. For others, it’s too demanding or may cause ankle, knee, hip, or lower back pain. Some exercisers are just bored of box jumps.

None of this matters when you know plenty of box jump alternatives!

Use the ten exercises in this article to keep your lower body workouts on track even if you can’t (or don’t want to) do box jumps. Each one works the same muscles, albeit using different equipment or movements. Don’t forget to visit the Fitness Equipment Reviews homepage for more expert advice and information.

Patrick

Patrick

Patrick Dale is an ex-British Royal Marine and owner and lecturer for a fitness qualifications company. In addition to training prospective personal trainers, Patrick has also authored three fitness and exercise books, dozens of e-books, thousands of articles, and several fitness videos.

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