Box Jumps are one of the best plyometric exercises to develop lower-body power, which helps you run faster and jump higher. But many of you are doing them wrong, putting yourself at risk for injury.
An increasingly popular way to perform Box Jumps is with a rebound. Using this technique, you jump onto the box, hop off and immediately jump up again like a rabbit. Intensity increases, and it will certainly leave you sweating and fatigued.
But landing from a box and immediately jumping can cause problems.
It Beats Up Your Joints
In a good training program, plyometric exercises are carefully regulated to limit stress on the body. Mike Boyle, co-founder of Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning, says, "We want [each rep] seen and not heard." Every landing should be as soft as possible to teach proper landing mechanics, and more important, limit stress on your joints. This is difficult to execute when rebounding.
You Could Tear Your Achilles Tendon
Many plyometric movements include a rebound, but you land vertically. When you land from a box, your body travels slightly backwards. The only way to keep from losing your balance is to land on the balls of your feet with your heels off the ground. As you decelerate and transition into your next jump, which moves you slightly forward, your Achilles tendons, not your knees and hips, absorb the force from the landing. If your body is beat up from your sport or you're fatigued from the exercise, it can cause an Achilles tear. And the recovery is not pretty.
It's Not Very Effective
"The jump down creates a huge impact on the body," says Nick Tumminello, owner of the Performance University. "This isn't needed to train the stretch-shortening cycle. It elevates the risk with no additional benefit." Instead, he says the preload you get when beginning your jump and landing is sufficient for teaching your body to decelerate, store energy and produce power—the primary goals of plyometric exercise.
To get more powerful, perform each jump as explosively as possible. Landing and rebounding accelerates fatigue and limits your power during the part of the rep that really counts.
What Should You Do?
It may not seem as cool or dynamic, but you need to jump up onto the box, step down and reset for the next jump. To do this, create stairs with one or two smaller boxes so you can gradually descend to the ground. Set up for your next rep and repeat. To see this in action, check out the video above with Boyle.
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