Box Jumps Part 3

Part 1 and 2

You must learn how to land before you jump.  You should also know that landing on a higher box does not necessarily mean you jumped any higher, and that you are asking for an injury if you don’t step down from the box instead of jumping down.


Higher box. Not a higher jump.


Do I Need To Do Box Jumps?


Unless your sport requires you to jump on a box (Crossfit competitions being the only one I can think of), then you don’t need to do them.



Like I said in the beginning, they are actually a fairly low level power exercise.  While I like them a lot and use them often, there are many other ways, some perhaps even better, to develop the same qualities you train in a box jump.


So What Else Can I Do?

A lot actually.  There are dozens, if not hundreds, of jump variations.  Below are just a few of the different ones I use.  As with any jump, all of the rules from Part 1 apply to these.


Kneeling Jumps


Broad Jumps


Hurdle Jumps


Lateral Hurdle Jumps


Snatch Grip Barbell Jumps


Trap Bar Jumps



How Do I Use Them In A Workout – Mistake #4

Well, that depends.  Why are you doing jumps in the first place?

Is it to be stronger and more powerful?

Or is it just for a conditioning workout?

There is a BIG difference.

Jumps For Performance

If you want to jump higher, run faster, or throw farther, then you should jump high, run fast, and throw far when you are training.  Makes sense, right?

But most of the training I see does not look like that, like when you see someone doing set after set of box jumps with little rest between. Do those final jumps look like the person is jumping as high as they did the first few? Or are they barely making it, just pulling their feet up higher each time?  Probably the latter.

Unless your power output on an exercise like jumping is over about 90%, YOU ARE NOT TRAINING FOR POWER!!!  In fact, you might just make yourself slower.

So, if you are using jumps as a means to improve POWER, they should:

  • Be done for low reps
  • Be done at the start of a workout when you are fresh
  • Be done with complete rest between sets
  • Jumps should be at or above 90% maximum power output. Consecutive missed jumps mean the set is over


Jumps For Conditioning

Jumps for conditioning are perfectly fine, provided its a low intensity variation like jumping rope, certain types of bounding, squat jumps, split squat jumps, and many others.  Here is one I use all the time:

Hot & Colds


But guess what kind of jump I hate for conditioning?

That’s right, box jumps.

I’ve already talked about the dangers of missed jumps, so no need to go over that again.  As you fatigue during a set, the likelihood of missed jumps will increase.  Why add in an obstacle like a box or a hurdle that can only make the injury worse?




There’s no such thing as a dangerous exercise, just dangerous coaches.”  I remember this quote from college, I just can’t remember who said it.  I think Meg Ritchie Stone but could very well be mistaken.

Anyway, this definitely applies to box jumps.  Do them right, and they’re great.  Do them wrong, not so great.

Box Jump Madness Part 2

Part 1

Box jumps are a great exercise, but many times there is not enough emphasis on proper landing. In Part 1, I went over the correct way to land and why it is so important. Before you jump, you need to learn how to land.

Mistake 2 – Box Height

This goes right along with proper landing technique – if the box is too high, you won’t be able to land in a good position.  But, there is a little more to it.

Say you jump on a 24″ box, like this:



And then you jump on a 36″ box, like this:



You jumped 12″ higher right?


Nerd Alert!

Jumping is an expression of power.  Power = (Force x Distance)/Time


Unfortunately for box jump heroes, distance DOES NOT equal box height.  Instead, the distance is how far you move your center of gravity when you jump. For simplicity, we’ll call your hips your center of gravity.  So, looking at my hips, did I really jump any higher to get to the 36″ box?



The answer is not by much.  I pulled my feet up higher to reach the box, but my hips traveled basically the same distance.  It’s not the end of the world, the ability to pull your knees and feet up quickly can be useful.

So Whats The Big Deal?

A box, or any elevated object, will obviously provide a stimulus to jump higher, which is the whole point of using them.  Jumping up to a 6″ step doesn’t exactly require much power production, plus it’s boring and looks really lame.



But like I said in part 1, you should try to land in a better position.  And if we know that at a certain box height you aren’t really jumping any higher, AND there is a much greater risk of injury from a missed jump as you go higher…

I don’t think the risk is worth it.


The stimulus (box height) must be enough to encourage maximum power production, as well as hip, knee, and ankle extension, while also taking in to account proper landing mechanics and limiting the risk of injury as much as possible.

Meathead translation: High box does not equal high gainz!



Mistake 3 – Jumping Down

This will get you hurt.  Period.  Jumping off an elevated surface can be VERY hard on your body, even if it doesn’t feel like it.  If you are not strong enough to absorb the huge landing forces (4-5 times your bodyweight), you are begging for an Achilles injury.

When and if I have clients jump off a box:

  • They have demonstrated sufficient strength and landing mechanics
  • They weigh less than 220(ish) lbs
  • The box is rarely higher than 24″

An example of this: Rebounding (or extensive) Box Jumps


Part 3

How do your program box jumps in to your workout?  Do you even need to do them?  What other alternatives are there?

Box Jump Madness Part 1

I know, you think you’re going to the gym to do this…


But then you end up looking like this


Box Jumps

Box jumps are a great exercise, one I use all the time with all types of clients. When done correctly, they can help you get faster, stronger/more powerful, and even help prevent injuries. When done incorrectly (hint: they usually are) you won’t get the benefits and you will probably get hurt.


Jumping Rules

  • All jumping exercises should be fast and smooth.  It should almost look effortless
  • If you miss, land hard (or miss the landing), or have to alter your form in any way – the jump is too difficult (or you are simply fatigued).  Use easier variations, lower jump heights, and/or increase the rest period between jumps.
  • Practice perfect reps.  Before progressing to harder jump variations, you MUST master the basics.


Mistake #1: Landing

“How fast would you drive a Ferrari if you knew it didn’t have any brakes?” – @movementasmedicine



The BIGGEST and MOST COMMON mistake I see when it comes to box jumps (or any jump) is poor landing mechanics.

First, and most importantly, landing incorrectly will get you hurt, even if it isn’t during your workout. If you do it in the gym, you will do it on the field, court, etc.  Non-contact ACL injuries, for example, almost always occur during landing, stopping, or rapid change of direction, so you need to learn how to do it correctly.


Landing like this = surgery time


Injuries are going to happen, but learning how to land and practicing that over and over, with perfect form, is one of the very best ways to prevent them.

Second, you are missing out on potentially huge strength gains from proper landing. Your muscles, and other soft tissues, absorb massive forces when you land (correctly), sometimes several times greater than your own body weight. That is not easy to reproduce with other exercises, so you should take advantage of it when you can.



Nerd Alert! Photo cred: American Society of Biomechanics


When you land with poor form though, more stress is placed on your joints, and less on the muscles and tendons.  And unlike muscles and tendons, repetitive stress on your joints does usually not produce positive adaptations – instead, you are asking for things like sprains or cartilage degeneration (arthritis).

Landing Rules

•  Land in a good athletic position – knees and hips bent, chest up tall.  Ideally you want your hips and knees at an angle greater than 90°.



•  Land like a ninja. This means a soft and quiet landing, we don’t want to hear your feet stomp the ground or box


•  Knees over your feet. This means your knees don’t cave in toward each other when you land



•  Use your whole foot*. This doesn’t mean land flat footed, and certainly does not mean to land with your heel first.  Toes touch first, and then the rest of your foot helps absorb the impact



*This applies to landing either in a box jump, vertical jump, or a depth jump. When doing rebounding jumps, like hurdle hops, you will stay on the ball of your foot.


Fix It!

If you address poor landing mechanics and make proper form a priority, then that will take care of 90% of the common problems I see with box jumps (boxes too high, jumping off the box, bad programming). The reason why? You simply won’t be able to land correctly and make those other mistakes, you can’t have one and have the other.


*Real Life

Training people in real life is a lot different than an exercise science book.  So no matter how many times you tell them, and no matter how much evidence you have to prove your point, they are going to watch a JJ Watt box jump video and want to see what they can do.  And, you can only get psyched up for 30″ box jumps so many times.

So, once in a while, you can push it a little, like when someone wants to set a new gym record:


Part 2

In part two I’ll address some other box jump mistakes, alternatives, and whether or not you even need them.




10 Things To Keep In Your Gym Bag

Training in poorly equipped globogyms is an unfortunate reality for most people.  But there are a few things you can get to make it significantly better, and they will all fit in a normal sized gym bag.


In order of how much I like/use them:

Foam Roller and Lacrosse Ball

You can find rollers in 12″ or 6″ lengths, some are even hollow, allowing you to store things like the lacrosse ball or bands in them.  If you don’t know what to do with them, read this:

How To Use The Foam Roller



Must buy.  Extremely versatile, inexpensive, and take up virtually no room.  I use them every day for mobility and stretching, adding them to barbells and machines, or by themselves for dozens of different exercises.  Here are just a few ways I use bands:

Hanging Band Bench
Band TKEs


Trap Bar DL w/ Bands


For mobility and stretching uses, you should check out the MobilityWod Youtube channel.

EliteFTS, Rogue, or Sorinex all sell good bands.  A pair of mini, light and average bands should be more than enough.


If your gym doesn’t already have one, this is a better alternative than jamming a bar in the corner.  Get the drop-in version, where you use a 45lb plate to anchor it instead of attaching it to something else.


Here are 20 different landmine exercises you can do:

20 Landmine Exercises


Furniture Sliders

Like bands, they are too cheap and useful to not get them.  You can get them from an exercise equipment store for $30 (called Valslides) or go to Home Depot and get a pair of furniture sliders for less than $10.  There is no difference between them.  Here are a bunch of ab exercises I do with them:

10 Ab Exercises You Can Do For $10


TRX, Jungle Gym, or other Suspension Trainers

Definitely not cheap, but they are really good.  Luckily, most gyms will have them now.  If you are looking for something to add to a home gym, you can’t go wrong with these.


Ab Wheel

You can find these anywhere for $10 and it is one of the best ab exercises you can do.  It’s also one of the most screwed up exercises, so make sure you do them correctly.


Spud Inc. Long Ab Strap

This is available from This cable attachment is great for standing ab crunches, but I’ve used it for dozens of cable exercises. It is far better than any attachment you’ll ever find at a commercial gym. In fact, everything they sell on that site is awesome, including the Magic Carpet Sled which is a great way to do sled training indoors.


Liquid Chalk

Most big box gyms do not allow chalk and will definitely not provide it for you. Liquid chalk is a decent substitute and will help you hold on to bars and dumbbells without using straps.


Lifting Straps

You shouldn’t rely on them too often, but in some cases your grip will simply give out before the other muscles you are trying to work.  You can also use them for holding the bar in the front rack position if your wrist and shoulder mobility is lacking.


Fat Gripz

These are rubber grips that you can clip on to a regular bar or dumbbells that turns them into a thick bar. Thick bar training is a great way to build grip strength while doing exercises like curls or pullups, instead of having to do additional dedicated grip work.



Do You Even Supplement, Bro?

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a nutritionist or doctor.  Talk to someone who knows what they’re talking about before you take anything.  People who do not qualify as “knowing what they’re talking about”: the salesperson at GNC, photoshopped Instagram models, and your uncle who took creatine once but got “roid rage” from it.

Before I go into this, I want you to consider this:


Something is not right here

99% of your results will come from good training, proper nutrition and hydration, and getting adequate sleep.  If you aren’t doing that, nothing else matters. 

Everything else, whether it’s supplements, new equipment, or new technology accounts for just 1%.   (The numbers aren’t exact, I kinda just made them up to prove a point.  But I don’t think anyone would argue that training, eating, and sleeping are the most important factors when it comes to making progress in the gym).

So if supplements are only part of 1%, why do 99% of the questions I receive sound like this?

“What should I take to lose (or gain) weight?”

“What kind of preworkouts do you use?”

Sure, there are many beneficial supplements, but if training, eating, and recovery aren’t locked down, you are essentially stepping over dollars to pick up dimes. 


People have gotten bigger and stronger than you for many, many years without ever taking supplements, wearing compression tights, or using vibration plates.  Master the basics before you start worrying about the little things.


Didn’t use Jack3D

With that being said, I do use supplements occasionally.  Here are the ones I like.

Supplement Rules

  1. You get what you pay for.  Buy high quality products from reputable sources.
  2. The fewer ingredients, the better.  No “proprietary blends”.
  3. Supplements never replace food.

Fish Oil

There have been countless studies showing the benefits of fish oil, from cardiovascular effects to reducing inflammation and many, many more..  This is the only supplement I recommend 100% of the time.

As gross as it sounds, I recommend using a fish oil liquid, like the one in the picture below.  The taste is not bad at all, there is no fishy taste, and the lemon flavor is actually kind of good.

If you can’t take that, try the capsules.  You’ll have to take a bunch of them though, like 3-4 a couple times per day depending on the kind.

File_000 (22)


Other than fish oil, there is no supplement I take more consistently than magnesium.  It has a calming effect when you take it before bed and it helps me sleep – and remember sleep is a pretty important part of the picture.


Vitamin D

Beneficial for a number of reasons, so its a good idea if you aren’t in the sun very much.  Not much else to say really.

 Greens Supplement

We can all use more vegetables in our diet, so this is also a pretty good idea.  They all taste pretty bad, but the kind pictured below is tolerable.

Beware of any pre-mixed ones that taste too good, they are usually just a juice box with tons of sugar.


 Protein Powder

Very convenient and useful for people who don’t like to eat meat or get enough protein from food.

But, it is not essential for building muscle.  If you get an adequate amount of protein from your diet (and you should aim to do so), then you do not need a protein supplement.

As for what to buy, you should stick to whey protein isolate or a vegan protein blend if milk based proteins don’t work with your stomach.  The list of ingredients should be no more than 5-6, and there should be little or no fat or carbohydrates.



Some people say they work, some say they don’t.  There’s very little downside, and they aren’t expensive, so I don’t really push clients one way or the other.  If you want to take one, go ahead.

But What About….?



Nope.  Caffeine is the only thing that works in them anyway, save your money and buy a coffee.

Fat Burners

At best they just don’t work.  Or worse, they can be dangerous and don’t work.

Hormone Precursors (Testosterone, Growth Hormone, IGF-1)

Don’t work (at least what you can legally buy), expensive, and usually dangerous.

More Random Gym Tips

Here are a few gym tips.  Just a few.  Just for a second.  Just to see how it feels.


Take Care of Your Feet

Tight hips get a lot of attention because most people spend all day sitting.  But what about people who stand all day for work?  Or people who wear crappy shoes?  Or runners?

Chances are your feet could use some attention.  Grab a lacrosse or golf ball and spend a couple minutes rolling the bottom of your foot, and then walk around barefoot for a few minutes.  This can work wonders for all kinds of lower body pain, and even lower back, shoulder, and neck issues.


Squeeze The Bar!

Two of the most common mistakes I see in the gym are failing to have a good grip on the bar when squatting or benching.

Squeezing the bar when you squat gets your upper back tight, creating a better “shelf” for the bar, and usually will help with people who tend to drift forward or round over when they squat.

Squeezing the bar when you bench will help recruit more muscle, helping you to lift more weight.  And, with hundreds of pounds of steel over your face and neck, its probably a little safer to have a good grip on the bar.

Cook With Coconut Oil or Grass-Fed Butter

Vegetable oils break down when they are exposed to high temperatures, and many nutritionists and doctors would tell you that there can be some adverse health effects of eating that often.

So, use coconut oil or grass-fed butter instead since both are able to withstand higher temperatures.  Also, they both contain several beneficial fatty acids that you don’t get from vegetable oils.

This doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t use things like olive oil, just use them on food AFTER cooking.



Use Eccentric Training to Get Stronger

If you are unable to do certain bodyweight exercises like pull-ups or dips, then you should incorporate some long eccentric (negative) reps in your training.  In fact, this is the best method I’ve ever used for helping clients get stronger in these lifts.

Climb up using your feet, and then lower your self as slow as possible.  3-4 reps should be sufficient, you don’t want to do too many reps like this.


Reverse Lunges

If squatting or regular lunges bother your knees, give reverse lunges a try.  Most people with knee pain are able to tolerate these, and you can still get a killer leg workout.

What Would Conan Do?

Whenever a question arises regarding training, and life in general, it is always a good strategy to ask “What would Conan do?”  (Credit to Jim Wendler for that quote.  Buy his 5/3/1 book, best program I’ve ever used.)



Military Press

Question: Should I sit down or do these standing?

Answer: Sitting down to exercise is dumb.  Presses are done standing.

Standing Press


*If you can’t do them with a straight bar you have a few options:

Trap Bar OH Press


1 Arm DB Press
Landmine 1 Arm Press



Conan Cardio




Question: I need to do cardio.  Should I do the elliptical?  Spin class?

Answer: Push a really heavy sled.  A good place to start is double your bodyweight added to the sled.  Push it until you are tired and then double that.



Ab Training

Question:  I want a six pack.  What exercise can I do?

Answer:  If you can’t see your abs because there is fat covering them, eat better.  If you want an exercise that burns fat and works your abs try weighted carries.


Trap Bar Walks


1 Arm Farmers Walks


Offset Waiter Carries


Juice Cleanse/Detox

Question: Should I do one?




Answer: NO


Move Every Day

You’ve heard it before many times.  We sit too much.  We have bad posture.  We don’t move around enough, and when we do we move poorly.  And a lot of us are in unnecessary pain.

Obviously, sitting around on your ass is not going to make you look any better.




But some less obvious reasons to move often:

  • People who exercise are less likely to get sick.  One study looking at equal sized groups, over the same time period saw 241 missed days of work in the exercising group vs. 453 in the sedentary group
  • “Success leaves clues.”  The most successful people in the world exercise regularly.  Presidents, CEOs, and billionaires all report WAY higher rates of exercise than the average person.
  • The US has 4.6% of the world’s population and consumes 80% of the world’s painkilling opiates (Jill Miller).  A lot of people are in a lot of pain.  And a lot of people don’t move very much (60% don’t meet minimum exercise requirements, 25% report no exercise at all).  You do the math there
  • The placebo effect works.  Even when you tell someone they are getting a placebo, it still works.  Will doing a couple stretches cure or prevent all ailments?  Of course not, but if you think they will make you feel better, you will most likely feel better.


General Warmup

You can, and should, do this every day.  You would be amazed at how different you feel after just doing this for just a week or so.  Doing 5 reps of each exercise, on each side, should take a little over 2 minutes, so there is really no reason to not get it done.



Lower Body Specific Warmup

This is another one you can do every day if you want, but definitely should do before any lower body workouts.



Upper Body Specific Warmup

Walking in to the gym off the street and getting under a 135lb bar is NOT how you get ready to bench press.  I’ve watched 600lb benchers warmup with nothing but the bar, so I don’t think you are too strong to do it also.  Doing these will help undo hours and hours of bad posture, keeping your shoulders healthy and strong.



Post Workout Stretches

Immediately after a workout is the ideal time to do these, when your muscles are warm and pliable.  Holding any stretch for a long period of time before a workout is not ideal, but if that means you won’t do it any other time, then by all means do it before a workout.  Another good time for these would be right before bed.  Just make sure you do some light activity prior so you are not going in to them completely cold.


Couch Stretch

This is intense, but you should be able to squeeze your glute on the side you are stretching.  If you can’t, then you should move your knee away from the wall.



Frog Stretch

Equally intense as the couch stretch.  Try to maintain a flat lower back as you push your hips back, and remember to breath.



Lat Stretch

The lats are big, strong, and usually over-active.  Getting the breathing part down on this one is important for it to be effective.  Deep breath in through your nose (think about filling your belly with air, not your chest), and long slow exhale through your mouth.




Working out for an hour or more every day is not always an option.  (3-4 times per week, though, is non-negotiable.  Figure it out.)  But there is absolutely no reason to not spend about 5 minutes doing the above exercises every day.  Unless you don’t want to look and feel better, avoid sickness, or be more successful.

5 Random Gym Tips

Here’s five random tips from my Instagram account @fit_rxtraining (follow it!).  Lazy post, I know, but they are good tips and worth repeating.

1.  Spend some time in a deep squat every day

American people sit in chairs for most of their day and up to 80% complain of lower back pain.  People in many third world countries sit in a deep squat instead and in most cases work far more physical jobs than us.  They report back pain at rates as low as 5%.  I’m sure that’s not the whole story, but there is definitely something interesting about that.


The guy on the left might actually be on to something

This doesn’t mean you have to do the squat exercise every day, it just means you should hold the position for a couple minutes each day.  The video below is a good way to get into the position if you have trouble getting into a deep squat.

2. Protein Bars

Most are filled with bad ingredients such as poor protein sources, sugar alcohols, and artificial sweeteners.  No bar will ever be as good as real food, and probably not as good as a protein shake, but sometimes they come in handy.  Here are my 3 favorite kinds.

Quest Bars


The Best Bar Ever


Oatmega Bars


3. Front Squats

Here’s a nice little trick to get into the front rack position with a pair of lifting straps

4. Bench press grip

If you want to bench press for a long time, and who doesn’t, use a grip that is easiest on your shoulders and will allow you to do so without getting hurt.

5. Use the back extension machine correctly

If you get off this machine with your back hurting, maybe you need to check that form.

Upper Back Training

A strong upper back is important for a number of reasons.  Such as:

  • Improved posture
  • Shoulder health
  • Improved performance
  • It looks awesome

Sooo who needs to do more upper back training?

  • Everyone



Upper back muscles respond very well to high volume/high frequency training.  That means higher rep sets (12-25) several times per week – or more.  In fact, some type of upper back work is a part of my own or my clients warmup every session.  So some weeks I’ll do 250-500 reps of these exercises in warmups alone.

Now with frequency and volume so high, the intensity should remain pretty low.  Meaning you don’t need much weight on any of these exercises.  Save the heavy, low rep stuff for exercises like deadlifts and rows.

Posture, Shoulder Health, and Performance

These 3 all go hand-in-hand.  By strengthening the small postural and stabilizer muscles of the upper back, your posture will improve, decreasing the likelihood of shoulder injury.  Healthy and strong shoulders = improved performance.  It’s as simple as that.

If you have, or have had, a shoulder injury, neck, elbow, or wrist pain, check out this older post I put up with a bunch of good exercises and tips.  Start with those and make sure you can do them pain-free before progressing to anything else.

The great thing about almost all of these exercises is that they can be done a number of different ways – with dumbbells, bands, cables, or suspension trainers. These are just a few of my favorites.

Face Pulls/Row to Chin/High Row

I play around with these as far as how strict my form is.  In the video you’ll see I like to do the “thumbs up” version with a retraction first, a pause in the contracted position, and a slower tempo.  The other two versions I use a little looser form with a quicker tempo, basically just pumping out reps.

Reverse Fly/Scarecrows

Elbow Rows

The key on these is to drive your elbow back at a 90° angle relative to your body, instead of a more natural position with your elbow close to your torso.

High Row + External Rotation

Band Hand Walks

These double as a challenging core exercise also (at least the ones on the floor).

Yoke Building

“Traps are the new abs” – Paul Carter (owner of the traps below)


What is a yoke?  It is the upper trap muscles, the ones you can see in the mirror, or the muscle between your shoulders and your ears.  Why is it important?  It looks awesome, and if you are going to lift weights to be strong, you might as well look strong.

The best way to build a huge yoke is deadlifting heavy and often, and obviously shrugs.  But people screw up shrugs all the time by bouncing up and down.  Pause every rep at the top and try some of the shrug variations below.

Before you do any shrugs though, you HAVE to do the above exercises, which target the lower portion of the trap muscle.  The upper traps are usually overdeveloped relative to the lower traps, so doing tons of shrugs can only make the problem worse.


Overhead Shrugs

Smith Machine 1 Arm Shrugs


Modified Upright Rows

These usually get a bad rap as shoulder-wreckers, but I’ve found if you set the cable slightly higher, take a step back,  and perform them almost like facepulls, that eliminates the shoulder issues with these.



What’s better than a big, strong upper back?

A bigger, stronger upper back.