Power = Work/Time
Essentially the faster we move (time) our bodyweight in a measurable manner (work…regarding box jumps, weights used in a clean, KB Swings, etc.), the more power we are able to generate as an athlete. Beyond using ladder drills, cone work, and hurdles, which are all great for coordination, nothing can increase our capacity for increasing power like learning how to jump. Barring specific muscular imbalances and technique issues for jumping, performing jumps and/or Olympic lifts (as this is traditionally a power-oriented technique, as opposed to the degradation of the movement often seen in Crossfit oriented workouts), is undoubtedly the FASTEST way to increase power output within our bodies.
Eric Cressey’s newest article explains the benefits for performing a unilateral landing onto a box! I’m sure they’ve been doing this exercise for a while, but the idea behind the exercise just makes sense. Athletic endeavors almost always entail single leg or unilateral movement (often in a 3D or real world manner; beyond bilateral training in a power rack). Also, the addition of developing power and speed within any movement, whether it is speed benching, squatting with chains, or doing box jumps will fire up our CNS, overall increasing our ability to output the [body]weight to do said exercise.
Looks like I’m ahead of the game, as I’ve been training with single leg jumps for a bit as well. Going to work on that today while working on some deadlift singles.
Obviously the main tenet for this is to be conservative with the box height, as attempting to jump on top of a box itself seems inherently idiotic (without proper landing technique, and customization in an exercise program). Assuming you can perform small jumps (+/- 10″) fine without pain and can land without sounding like the Hulk when he lands after jumping out of an airplane, then attempting box jumps is a great way to develop hip power outside of learning Olympic or KB lifts.
When should we be performing box jumps? Well if you are already performing strength training, then the next step is to organize your program so that the power movement is paired with the initial strength exercise that you want to see improvements in overall. So, for example:
1a. Front Squat (65%, 70%, 75% of 1RM)
1b. Tuck Jump/Box Jump (75-80% of effort)
This format can be followed for both lower body routines and upper body routines. Prepare to be hyped up during your routine with an increased CNS (which should translate to an increased strength gain) to help throughout your training sessions…!