Exercises I can't stand (pt1).......Box Jumps
In our industry so many people jump on the bang wagon because they see something that may be cool or new. Many times inexperienced coach’s look at certain exercises as great because they are difficult without putting any thought into how it will affect their clients. This article will be broken up into 4 parts and focus on the exercises I can’t stand and my reasoning behind them.
As a coach who works specifically with First Responders I always ask “risk vs reward”. Then I have to ask “How will this benefit them without hurting them?” Because I work with over 1500 firefighters I have to find exercises that will not only enhance performance, but also reduce injury and it has to be both difficult but simple to perform without me being present. This is actually a skill and has taken me years to develop.
So lets get right into it: The first exercise is.......
BOX JUMPS: I can’t stand this exercise for most people - even world class athletes. Often times people like it cause its hard, but that should be the last reason why you should do them. First ask yourself this: “Do you get hurt jumping off the engine or on jumping on the engine?”
RIGHT, JUMPING OFF! So why are we always jumping up? How is this specific to the needs of a firefighter? Its not! So why do we keep doing them? They are found in today’s more popular workouts such as High Intensity Power Training and Boot camps which are are causing more harm then good.
Next, I often ask people why the box was created, and most people do not even know. As athletes becomes more explosive they will jump higher, increasing the risk for injury (anything above 3 feet will increase the chance of injury.) Most injuries occur coming down, not going up therefore the coach needs something to reduce the decerlation to reduce the risk of injury.....aka a box. For example: if a person can jump 36 inches that means they also have to come down 36 inches...so why not place a 24 inch box under them so they only come down 12 inches and absorb the force on the deceleration.
The definition of plyometrics is exercise involving repeated rapid stretching and contracting of muscles (as by jumping and rebounding) to increase muscle power. That means that you should only perform 4-6 repetitions, anything over that would be conditioning, NOT POWER. But more important than jumping up is the absorption of power.
As we age we tend to lose certain physical abilities, and one of them is absorption of power and the decrease of balance. A lot of this is due to the fact that we become to stiff and our tendons and ligaments cannot absorb the force generated by jumping up, over time this will create inflammation in the knees and ankles which could lead to tendonitous.
Let’s look at it from another point of view. When a child is growing up what do they do first, jump on the couch or jump off it? CORRECT, they jump off it and this is the bodies way of developing the absorption of power. As they start to get older they want to do the opposite and jump over the couch, now we are applying force production. The real question then becomes “When was the last time you did any training to absorb power?” RIGHT - A LONG TIME AGO!
Going back to the first questions again: Do you get hurt jumping down from the rig or jumping up onto it? CORRECT JUMPING DOWN...I have personally seen too many firefighters damage their knees (patella or worse achilles) So why don’t we start jumping off boxes and step back up onto them and learn to absorb power to help reduce injuries (and increase balance).
ALTERNATIVES TO BOX JUMPS
- If you want to develop more endurance - JUMP ROPE...its actually a plyometric.
- Learn to step off a small box then step up: Perform different patterns such as backward or lateral and then perform a lateral step up.
- If you perform plyos, learn to absorb force first be landing soft and coming down with the jump as if you were squatting. You do not need a box for this, just a small area.