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series of a man performing a box jump

In fitness, “power” refers to explosiveness — the ability to move weight with speed. The box jump is a great way to test and train lower-body power. It requires the ability to use power from your legs to jump up; to achieve triple-extension of your hips, knees, and ankles; and to land softly and with control.

How to Test: Stand with your feet at hip width about a foot behind a sturdy elevated surface, such as a weight plate or plyo box. Hinge your hips and lower into a mini squat.

Explosively reverse the motion — swing your arms forward for added momentum to jump up and forward with a powerful hip drive. Land gently with knees soft, then straighten your legs and drive through your hips to stand tall.

Step down and repeat for as many controlled, great-form reps as possible in one minute. If you feel your form eroding — or miss a rep — before the minute is complete, stop there.

How to Assess: Record the height of the platform — whether it’s 4 inches, 12 inches, or 36 inches. As with elevating your hands in a pushup (see “How to Test Your Muscular Endurance“), selecting an appropriate height ensures safety and the opportunity to measure progress.

Additionally, record how many reps you completed. Over time, you likely will be able to complete more repetitions, jump to a higher platform, or both.

How to Improve: Practice box jumps a couple of times a week, performing two or three sets of eight reps. Pay particular attention to fully extending the hips as you jump and to landing with control on each repetition.

Other ways to improve lower-body power include powerful step-ups, kettlebell swings, and the Olympic lifts — snatches and clean-and-jerks.

For more tips on improving box-jump prowess, including alternatives to the move, visit “BREAK IT DOWN: The Box Jump“.

This was excerpted from “Fitness Testing 2.0” which was published in the June 2021 issue of Experience Life magazine.

Sarah Tuff

Sarah Tuff Dunn is a Colorado-based outdoors, health, fitness, and nutrition writer.

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