Box Jumps are NOT a Cardio Workout

According to a recent Duke University study, minute per minute, cardio burns more calories than strength training. However, cardio doesn’t do much for your muscles. In one Penn State study, dieters lost 21 pounds whether they performed cardio or strength training. But for the cardio group, six of those pounds lost came from muscle, while the lifters lost almost pure fat—and probably fit into their skinny jeans better because of it.

Strength training is the number-one way to build more muscle. And for every three pounds of muscle you gain, you can expect to burn an extra 120 calories a day without moving a single one of those muscles. But that doesn’t mean that you should give up on running altogether. According to the Duke University report, the best type of training plan includes both cardio and strength training.

Now that you know having a good cardio and strength training plan is the most effective to meet your fitness goals, what are effective cardio workouts you can use? Let me start by putting this out there. Box jumps are NOT a cardio workout! Contrary to the many posts out there that claim emphatically that box jumps are a great cardio workout, they are dead wrong!! Let me say that again….Box Jumps are NOT a cardio workout!

Let me explain.

Jumps are an awesome display of power, athleticism, and relative strength with directly applicable qualities to nearly every sport. And yes, they’ll get you more jacked, too. The problem is, they’re often over-prescribed by ‘trainers’ that don’t know diddly squat about the true art of the box jump in addition to being performed with atrocious form.

Case in point- here are common ‘cardio’ workout we’ve seen:
100 box jumps, fastest possible time
25 reps each at 18in, 24in, 32in, 40+in
5 box jumps each holding 10lbs, 12lbs, 15lbs, 20lbs, 25lbs

First, let me say with utmost importance – high volume isn’t important, high performance is. Two to four sets of 3-5 reps are fine for most people.

Box jumps are the most common jump variation in exercise programs for good reason – they decrease joint stress and provide a low stress environment to express power and practice sound landing mechanics. When compared to the landing height from a vertical jump, the box jump has significantly less compressive stress. Likewise, when compared to the broad jump, the box jump has less shear stress and compressive stress at the knee. Like every exercise, box jumps are a tool that must be treated carefully, not randomly thrown into your programming and conditioning.

Box jumps fail miserably when used for conditioning. Jumps used as a conditioning exercise often cause a breakdown of form in landing mechanics, which leads to battered shins, dangerous wipeouts and poor mechanics which will most likely result in injury due to inappropriate use of box jumps in a training routine. In addition, jumping for high reps and pushing the tempo minimizes full hip-extension, isn’t good. Full hip-extension is the primary driver of a solid vertical jump and transfers to activities like sprinting, the lockout of a deadlift, or the end of your squat. How you practice is how you play. If you use faulty mechanics in training, it’s going to show up when you play or even during everyday life. Box jumps are a great tool to increase performance, any exercise used haphazardly and without planning sabotages gains and becomes potentially dangerous.

So, contrary to what’s out there, box jumps are NOT a cardio workout. Then, what are good cardio exercises if running or the treadmill aren’t appealing to you?

Here are some example cardio routines you can try:
Jump rope for 5mins, rest for 2min, jump rope for 5mins
Jog for 20m, down and back, do 5 push ups and 5 body weight squats, single leg lunges 5 each side – repeat for 5min

Want more ideas, contact us!