Don't Jump with Your Arms
Greg Everett

I like box jumps for weightlifting. It's a very simple, accessible way to train explosiveness. What I don't like is when box jumps are done in ways that reduce their effectiveness or create problems.

The point of box jumps in the context of weightlifting training is to train knee and hip extension explosiveness—it has nothing to do with conditioning or lifting the feet really high (although quick hip flexion is useful with regard to moving under the bar).

To make sure it's actually the legs and hips doing the work, you can simply remove any arm swing. I like putting my hands together in front of my chest—not clasped, but loosely in case I have to save my face from punching the edge of the plyo box. You can jump higher with an arm swing—but an arm swing isn’t magically making your legs and hips more powerful, so it’s a false inflation.

I also prefer lower boxes. This seems odd, I know, but with excessively high boxes, I find people typically will put more effort into lifting and reaching the feet (with a ton of back rounding, making this hip flexion less transferable to the third pull of the snatch and clean) rather than actually jumping. With a slightly lower box, the athlete can focus on a maximal jump and then coming down softly onto the box without a concern for missing.
If the box creates problems for you, it’s really not a concern—get rid of it and do standing vertical jumps. This is the truest vertical jump motion since there’s no need to move forward onto a box, and you can still add hip flexion if you want—just do it with an actual squat motion with the trunk set tightly as you would when pulling under a lift.


May 24 2018
Greg—what is your stance on adding weight to vertical jumps in regards to training hip/knee extension? Such as a kettlebell to the chest, dumbbells at the sides, weight vest, etc. Is there any added benefit to this?
I like back squat jumps at around 20% of 1RM back squat, and 1/4 squat jumps and concentric jumping squats with heavier weights. Never weighted onto a box - no good reason to do that, and plenty of exra risk.

Greg Everett
September 6 2019
Greg, during my Plyometric Exercises sessions I used to get help of arms to perform some moves. Today, after reading your post I realized my mistake. This might be one of the reasons for sure that I failed to achieve my fitness goals.
April 10 2020
Trying to jump higher, I used a violent arm swing to the point that one part of the shoulder was working against the other part of shoulder. I felt a deep shoulder pain for a few minutes. Problem then disappeared and about 2 weeks later there has been pain in front shoulder and upper bicep. Have not box jumped since that time. Is this a common problem with box jumping ?