Fitness

Jenni Falconer’s Fitness Diary - May 2016

Over the years I have tried many different ways to keep fit, improve my strength and test my coordination but the other day my brother introduced me to something I had never attempted before… box jumping.

It’s as basic as it sounds and literally involves jumping on and off a box, but let me tell you, it is a lot harder than you might think!

At my gym, there are three soft plyometric boxes in the set – one is 30cm high, one 45cm high and one 60cm high. My brother places the two larger boxes on top of each other to jump 1.05m and then completes three sets of 12 jumps with a recovery period in between each set. I set the box to 1.05m and stood in front of it. It was really very high – intimidatingly so – and I quickly realised that it would be best to start lower and work my way up.

In order to perform the perfect box jump, the idea is to stand a comfortable distance from the box, assume an athletic position and then propel yourself upwards. Although it sounds straightforward enough, the actual execution is anything but! You are supposed to mimic a cat jumping up and down (gracefully and quietly) and you also need to land in a solid squat position with your chest up. Then you can carefully step down or jump down off the box and go again.

You might wonder what the point is in doing something so ridiculous as jumping on and off a box but there are in fact a number of benefits which can improve your overall health, fitness and coordination, and burn fat too. Box jumping is a plyometric workout, helping you build size while also conditioning the body – the higher and more explosive you jump, the more muscle tissue is activated.

It increases strength in the lower body and as you propel upwards you are forced to use every single part of your legs and arms. As a keen runner, leg strength is key to improve stamina and avoid injury, so building this through an activity like box jumping should be a crucial part of my training regime. These jumps are also very demanding on the metabolism so it’s an ideal workout to incorporate into any fat burning or fat loss programme.

I started on the 60cm box with five sets of 12 jumps and my goodness that was a workout and a half! I felt like I had been running flat- out for 30 minutes on a treadmill by the end.

They say this exercise blasts calories and I can definitely vouch for this. One personal trainer told me that you can burn up to 1,000 an hour doing it – although let’s be honest, who would box jump for an hour? I did 10 minutes and was absolutely shattered!

The best thing of all is that you can try it anywhere – you don’t have to use the specially designed boxes in the gym. Use the stairs or a (low) table if you are feeling confident. Just be careful and start slowly! If you have a go, let me know how you get on and how high you manage to jump. Good luck!

Jenni Falconer