What’s the difference between a box jump workout and a walk in the park? About 800 calories for every hour you exercise. Box jumps are super tough, no way around it. But they’re one of the big calf-building best leg workouts at the gym that anyone can do. Take them on with regularity and expect strong, sculpted legs, a cardio boost, improved balance and coordination, and fat that seems to disappear overnight.
The intensity of the workout (and stress on your bones) means you probably shouldn’t do it more than twice a week. Mix it up with a healthy dose of traditional cardio and strength training to make sure you’re working your whole body.
If you’re new to box jumps, start by using a low platform—a foot to 18 inches off the ground. Add height as you become more comfortable with the moves, always choosing form first (you’ll burn more calories if you do these moves correctly at a lower height as opposed to faking it at a higher one). And no, you don’t technically need an official box-jump box to perform box jumps. If you’re not at the gym (or your gym doesn’t have them), any stable stool or upside-down wooden box will suffice.
To properly perform a basic box jump, stand facing the box, feet should-width apart. Bend your knees and swing arms behind you, keeping your back straight. In one explosive motion, swing your arms forward and push off the ground, tucking your knees slightly as you spring up onto the box. Straighten your legs once you land, then step back down to go again.
Got it? Good, then you’re ready for the ultimate box-jump workout. The circuit here will take you about 20 minutes. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, add a set, or do the whole thing twice.
Leg Day Workout Warmup: Step Ups
Stand facing the box. Step up with your right foot, followed by your left, then down with right foot, then left. Do 10 reps, then reverse legs (up with left, down with left).
Box Jump Up & Downs
Traditional box jump, followed by a reverse jump down. Keep your hands tucked and knees bent to help with balance. Note: If you have bad knees or shin troubles, don’t jump down, step down, as this move places stresses on the patella and tibia. Do 10 reps, 2 sets.
Single Leg Lateral Steps
Stand on the left side of the box. Step up with your right leg, then quickly transfer your weight to your left leg, keeping the weight on your left side as you drop your right leg over the right side of the box, letting your foot tap the floor. Raise your right leg up to the top of the box again, shifting your weight to your right foot while your left leg reaches and touches the floor. Do 30 seconds on, 15 seconds rest x 4.
Burpee Box Jumps
Stand in front of the box and squat down, placing hands on the floor and jumping your feet back into an extended pushups position. Jump feet forward again, and then spring off the ground into the air. Instead of the traditional burpee vertical jump however, you’ll jump forward and onto the box. Step down. Do 10 reps, 2 sets.
Box Jump Pivot
Start by standing in the center of the box. Place your weight on your right leg, bend your right knee, and drop your left leg over the side of the box. As soon as your left foot touches the floor, push off it hard, allow the momentum to rotate your body slightly as you return to standing atop the box. Continue this drop, push, release pattern until your body spins in a full 360 on the box. Repeat in the opposite direction.
Four-Sided Box Jump
Work in multiple planes with this round-the-box move. Start by standing in front of the box and jumping forward onto it. Jump off the box to the right side. Jump sideways to the left to land on top of the box again. Jump forward and land with the box behind you. Step backwards to re-climb onto the box top. (Note: If you are advanced, you can jump backwards but this is a difficult maneuver.) Jump sideways down to the right side of the box, then jump sideways to the right to land on top again. Repeat the full rotation 4 times.
Single Leg Hops
Use a lower-height setup for this one. Stand facing the box. Lift your left foot off the ground so you are standing on your right leg. Bend right knee and jump onto the box, keeping left foot off the ground. Jump or step back down. Do 10 reps on each leg.