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Why High Box Jumps?

by Keith Van Wickler

Part of becoming a better and more effective mover as an athlete/exerciser/human is understanding movement patterns.  As we begin to introduce more low-rep, high box jumps into our training, you may begin to recognize some differences from the high volume, high-speed box jumps like we saw in Open WOD 13.2.   We often talk about the carry over between movements that we train.   In his article, Danny talked about the positive transfer of the hip drive between stone to shoulders and kipping muscle ups.    We can look at a similar relationship between the high box jump and the Olympic lifts; the clean and the snatch.

Looking at the progressions below, you can see the similarities between the three movements.  At the start, the athlete’s weight is rooted in the heels.  The shoulders are slightly over the toes.  The torso is neutral, not overextended and arched, or flexed and rounded.  While each athlete will have slight differences, the general angles at each joint are the same.

In the second position, the athlete reaches full extension at the hips and knees.  This is a violent, explosive movement.  You never feel yourself in this position on a high box jump, and the same can be said for the clean or snatch.  You are moving too fast, because you need to quickly get into positions three and four.

A rapid change of direction occurs here, as you drop into a squat position as fast, if not faster than you reached full extension in position two.  Finally, you land in a low, stable squat.  The lower you can be, the better.  This is why we don’t just squat to parallel.  We go as low as possible while maintaining good position and stability.


Are there subtle differences in some of the positions and the stimulus?  Yes, of course, but as you can see, the basic movement pattern is the same: a stable, strong, powerful start, then an explosive hip drive leading to full extension, and a quick, aggressive drop into a low, stable squat.  Matt Kalinowski has the biggest clean in the gym at 150kg/330lbs.  It is no surprise that he also has the highest box jump at 54 inches without much training (and I’m pretty sure he had work boots on at the time and had just finished lifting).

So whenever we work on low-rep high box jumps like we did yesterday, treat them like a heavy clean or snatch.  Get yourself mentally prepared, be explosive and fast, and you will start to see carry over to your barbell work.




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