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.

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Greg Everett is the owner of Catalyst Athletics, coach of the USA Weightlifting National Champion team Catalyst Athletics, author of the books Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches and Olympic Weightlifting for Sports, director/writer/producer/editor/everything of the documentary American Weightlifting, co-host of the Weightlifting Life Podcast, and publisher of The Performance Menu journal. He is an Olympic Trials coach, coach of over 30 senior national level or higher lifters, including national medalists, national champion and national record holder; as an athlete, he is a fifth-place finisher at the USAW National Championships, masters national champion, masters American Open champion, and masters American record holder in the clean & jerk. Follow him on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, and sign up for his free newsletter here.

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Croy 2018-05-24
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
Nyk 2019-09-06
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.
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