Box jumps are a plyometric exercise, and plyometric training is an important and often neglected part of distance running training. Many runners might associate box jumps more with sprint training or indeed HIIT style gym workouts, but they are a fantastic exercise for longer-distance running too.
One of the key elements in a good running stride is to generate power to propel you forward – and box jumps are a great tool in your strength and conditioning routine for building that power and strength. As well as helping proper form, they also build core strength, stability and balance and mobility.
‘Box jumps are a go-to exercise for developing lower body power – and especially if done on a single leg,’ says Graeme Woodward, a UK Athletics Level 3 performance coach, UKSCA accredited S&C coach and We Run coach for West Yorkshire.
‘This exercise trains triple extension and flexion of the key joints – hips, knees, and ankles – and related muscles – quads, hamstrings, quads and calves – used in running, and also requires a significant neuromuscular contribution which benefits speed qualities.’
If the idea of box jumps sounds a bit daunting to you, then you are not alone. But don’t worry – you can start low and build up from there.
‘Jumping onto a box just beneath an athlete’s limit requires maximal power which is something runners do not usually train in most of their sessions,’ says Woodward. ‘The advantage of a box jump is that it can be scaled to an individual using different heights. Another benefit is that jumping onto a higher box compared to the take-off position removes landing forces, which makes this a great tool for any runner with joint issues.’
How to do a box jump
- Stand in front of a platform about 12-18 inches high.
- With your feet slightly apart, push your hips back and swing your arms.
- In one explosive move, swing your arms forward, spring up and land on the box with soft knees.
- Step back to the start position.
- Aim for 10 reps.