Box Jump Alternatives (Substitute Options For Home Gyms)

One of the best exercises for training your legs and lower body is box jumps. They help to strengthen and tone your legs, as well as improve your explosive power. However, they can sometimes be harsh on your knees, and to do them safely, you will need to purchase a good plyometric box 

The good news is that there are alternative exercises for box jumps that will help you work the same muscles without buying more equipment. 

The workouts that we will suggest in this article can be used alongside or as a substitute for a box jump routine to help you improve your leg muscles and overall jumping abilities, plus will provide the same benefits of a box jump.  

We have listed these exercises from the easiest to the hardest box jump alternatives, so you should find it easy to progress and implement them into your workout. 

It is important for you to understand the multiple benefits of box jumps before explaining how to perform alternate exercises. Scientific research has proven the efficiency of plyometric exercises such a box jumps and their reported benefits as providing: 

  • Increases your muscular strength and overall bone health. 
  • Improves your output and stamina. 
  • Improves your physical and jumping abilities. 
  • Increases your cardiovascular health, endurance, and posture. .

Many professional athletes, like basketball players all over the world, have adopted these exercises, and it is not a surprise considering the extensive list of benefits. Furthermore, box jumps have proven to be beneficial for all types of cross-sport training — not only basketball players. 

Improving your speed, vertical jumps, and endurance in your legs is essential for all sports. Legs are the biggest group of muscles in the body, and when you train them properly, you will have the edge over the competition. 

The good news is that many of these workouts happen to be at-home alternatives to box jumps, which means that you will be able to complete these exercises in the comfort of your own home without necessarily having to buy equipment. 

Why Box Jumps

Muscles Used In Box Jumps 

Box jumps tend to engage specific muscles in your legs, such as quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. Plyometrics will help you to improve the power and endurance of these key groups of muscles. 

The list of box jump alternatives that we have included will mostly focus on these four specific muscle groups and improving their overall strength. 

Best Box Jump Alternative Exercises 

1. Jump Squat 

Difficulty Level: Easy and suitable for everyone. 

For beginners and people who do not have access to a plyometric box, the jump squat is a great exercise. It is a great jump box alternative simply because of its diversity and the fact that you can perform it anywhere. 

A jump squat is similar to a box jump because it focuses on the same four key muscle groups. Jump squats increase your lower body strength and coordination in the same way that a box jump does. 

It might sound like a simple exercise, but they are surprisingly tricky when done correctly. For beginners, it is the perfect workout to give you a solid foundation when it comes to plyometric movements. 

  • In an open space, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. 
  • Drop your hips into a quarter squat and drive them in an upward direction. 
  • Jump powerfully into the air while keeping your legs and body straight. 
  • Land softly on the ground by bending your knees to absorb the impact. 

Recommended Repetitions: 12 — 15. 

You can improve your strength and progress with jump squats by adding weight to your exercise. Once jump squats begin to feel a little bit too easy, you can hold light dumbbells or wear a good weighted belt while performing jump squats to increase the load. In addition, you can use your arms as a way to increase momentum and jump higher by swinging them forward right before jumping; this requires more energy and will allow you to feel the burn. 

2. Lunge 

Difficulty Level: Easy and suitable for everyone. 

Lunges are a simple and effective way to target the four main muscle groups used to perform a box squat. 

Lunges, as a box jump alternative, are an effective way to increase lower body strength and performance in sports like swimming. 

We highly recommend that our clients get comfortable doing basic lunges due to the many variations that they unlock that will allow you to target different muscles from different angles. The many variations of lunges make them the perfect alternative to box jumps, and they are a great leg workout routine on their own too. 

Forward Lunge: The most common variation of a lunge. 

Lateral Lunge: Similar to the forward lunge, but they are out to the side. 

  • Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. 
  • Keep your toes forward and your feet flat on the floor before taking a big step to the left. 
  • Move your weight onto your left heel and bring your hips back into a squat-like position. 
  • Use your leg to move back upwards once your left thigh is parallel with the floor. 
  • Move your left foot back to the original position. 
  • Repeat the same steps on the right side. 

Recommended Repetitions: 8 For Each Leg x 3 Sets.

Curtsy Lunge: The most difficult variation of a lunge. 

  • Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and put your hands on your hips. 
  • Move your right leg behind your left leg. 
  • Bend your left knee until your thigh is parallel to the ground. It is fine for your right knee to touch the ground. 
  • Move in an upward direction and bring your right leg back to the original position. 
  • Repeat the same steps on the right side. 

Recommended Repetitions: 8 For Each Leg x 3 Sets. 

For all lunge exercises, remember to keep your back upright. You should not lean forwards or let your upper body drop while you are performing a lunge, as this will put unnecessary stress on your knee joints and might even cause an injury. 

It is important that you take a large step when you are doing a lunge. If you want to achieve the maximum result, then this will allow you to get into a better position to target specific muscles. If you have mastered lunges, then you can also opt to use a good set of adjustable dumbbells or weighted vests to add difficulty to the exercise. 

3Bulgarian Split Squat 

Difficulty Level: Easy and suitable for everyone. 

One of the most popular exercises in the plyometric and CrossFit community is the Bulgarian split squat. It is nearly identical to a lunge but is slightly more challenging. 

By placing one of your legs on a bench, you are moving most of your weight onto the other leg, which allows you to maximize and control your own body weight while isolating your front leg. 

The Bulgarian split squat is another great box jump alternative that will allow you to target all of the key lower body muscles. 

  • Stand two feet in front of a strong bench or chair with your feet hip-width apart. Engage your core and keep your back straight. 
  • Put your left foot on the bench behind you while keeping the top of your foot down. 
  • Slowly bend down into a squat until your front quad is parallel with the floor while keeping your foot in line with your knee. 
  • It is fine to let your back leg bend naturally, but do not let it take the weight of your front foot. 
  • Move your front foot into the ground and return to the starting position. 

Recommended Repetitions: 8 For Each Leg x 3 Sets. 

Remember to keep your feet shoulder-width apart and try not to place your back foot right behind the front, as this can cause you to lose stability, making it more difficult for you to balance properly. It is essential that your front foot remains flat when you are squatting and that your back heel does not pop up.

If you feel like it is difficult, then it usually means that your foot is too close to the bench, and you need to bring it forward. If you move your foot forward and you still find it difficult, then it might mean that you are leaning too far forward with your back. 

4. Step-Ups 

Difficulty Level: Easy and suitable for everyone. 

A pretty simple box jump alternative is a step-up which you can perform in any place, at any time. It is an all-around exercise that can be modified into a strong workout, regardless of your skill level. 

Step-ups are an isolated leg exercise that allows you to focus your body weight on one leg at a time. They are perfect for building up the quads, which is a crucial step in protecting the knee when performing high-impact exercises like box jumps. 

Step-ups are mainly performed with dumbbells in hand or wearing a weighted vest. We highly recommend that you master step-ups before utilizing dumbbells or weighted vests. 

  • Start with your feet hip-width apart, like a foot in front of a bench or chair. 
  • Bring your left foot up and push your heel down first. 
  • Step up with your right foot to meet your left foot. 
  • Move your right foot down as you bend your left knee. 
  • Bring your left foot down and resume your original position. 

Recommended Repetitions: 8-10 For Each Leg. 

It might seem easy to perform this box jump alternative, but when executed correctly, they are incredibly effective. It is important that you make your first stepping leg the one that does all the lifting, and the second leg should be a 'dead weight.' 

Remember to stop your knee from passing your toes when you are stepping onto the box or chair, as this can put unnecessary strain on your knee joints and could lead to injury. It is essential that you keep your back straight and refrain from leaning forward. 

5. Squat Push Press 

Difficulty Level: Slightly Difficult. 

A dumbbell thruster (also known as a squat push press) is basically a full-body exercise with a heavy focus on the legs and shoulders. It allows you to harness all of the muscles you usually use in a box jump exercise with added activation of the upper body. 

A squat push press is an advanced exercise that adds extra weight to the usual squat and makes it an even more effective alternative to box jumps. In addition, the extra weight will improve your levels of strength and effectiveness that is needed to push off in the middle of a box jump. 

  • Start by grabbing the dumbbells and bringing them to shoulder height. 
  • Begin to lower yourself in a squat position with your feet hip-width apart. 
  • Pause and hold for a second as soon as your thighs are parallel with the ground. 
  • Press your heels and stand up straight as you bring the weight above your head. 
  • Lower the weight and resume your original position. 

Recommended Repetitions: 12-15 For Each Side. 

It is crucial that your back is straight throughout the exercise as it helps to engage your core, keep your head up, and look straight. You can start with low-weight dumbbells and slowly add more weight once you have mastered the form. 

6. Hex Bar Deadlift 

Difficulty Level: Intermediate, requires a decent level of strength and stability. 

Deadlifts are one of the most popular workouts in the fitness world. People often use them as a compound exercise as they work almost every single muscle in the human body. 

Deadlifts tend to focus on leg power and strength, making them the perfect alternative to box jumps. However, if you have just started on your fitness journey, it might seem like a strenuous exercise as it requires strict, proper form and has the potential to cause injury very easily. 

Hex bar deadlifts (also known as trap bar deadlifts) are very similar to deadlifts, but they are usually easier for beginners. The specially designed hex bar will help you to put your body into the right position with the high handles, grip, and center of mass, with less chance of injury. This means you will probably be able to lift heavier amounts of weight and overload your muscles with a hex bar. 

Even though it is an intermediate exercise, many beginners might find it the easiest way to start deadlifts. 

  • Start with your desired weight on the hex bar (we recommend that you start small). 
  • Stand in the center of the bar with your feet shoulder-width apart. 
  • Bend with your knees and hips to grab the bar at the handles. 
  • Keep your back straight as you raise your hips to create slight tension in your legs and hamstrings. 
  • Push your feet into the ground and stand straight. 
  • When you are at the top, pause for a second before slowly lowering your body weight back down to your original position. 

Recommended Repetitions: 8-12. 

Remember not to round your back as this is the leading cause of problems for lifters. Lifting this way puts unnecessary stress on the spine and can cause serious injuries. If you can't keep your back straight, the weight is too high for you. 

You don't need to lean back at the top of the lift, which can also strain the spine. You should use your glutes, but remember to keep your back straight. It is important to grab the handles in the center, as improper weight distribution can make the hex bar tilt as you are lifting it. 

7. Hex Bar Jump 

Difficulty Level: Difficult (this should only be attempted after you have mastered the hex bar deadlift). 

A hex bar jump is a type of variation on the hex bar deadlift, and professional athletes usually perform them as a way to improve their jumping abilities. 

A hex bar jump is an exercise that tends to result in a higher jump, peak power, and force, according to research. You can increase your overall strength by overloading your leg muscles and practicing your jump with a load. 

A hex bar jump is not only a box jump alternative, but it is also a way to improve your box jumping abilities. However, it is not an exercise recommended for beginners, and you must have perfect form to safely execute this exercise. 

  • Start like you are about to perform a regular hex bar squat. 
  • Get into a squat-like position (feel the tension in your legs and hamstrings) and grab the bar. 
  • Pull the weight almost an inch off the ground and pause. 
  • Move your feet into the ground as you keep your back straight and your chest high. 
  • Jump and straighten your body and legs as you move your feet off the ground. 
  • Bend your knees and prepare for impact. 
  • Lower the bar and squat down into your original position. 

Recommended Repetitions: 8-12 x 2 sets. 

When you pull the weight a half an inch off the ground, you need to make sure that all the 'slack' in your arm has disappeared. This will stop you from potentially hurting yourself or breaking form. It is also worth adding that this exercise doesn't use the same jumping and shrugging motion seen in other Olympic lifts. Your shoulders must always be relaxed and stay down throughout the workout. 

8. Barbell Squat 

Difficulty Level: Intermediate form, strength, and stability. 

A barbell squat is another great compound exercise for increasing your leg strength and ability. It is often named the 'king of exercises,' and we usually recommend it to clients in our leg and shoulder workout routine. 

Barbell squats provide real results, and it specifically targets areas such as the glutes, quads, and hamstrings in a way that can't be matched. However, this exercise also requires a high level of core and back strength. This makes it crucial to have prior experience and opt for lower weights in the beginning. We advise that people get some coaching from a regular lifter or a trainer for their first few attempts. 

  • The bar should be at the height of your collar bone. 
  • Step under the bar and let it rest on the upper part of your back and traps. 
  • Move back from the support and make sure that your feet are shoulder-width apart. 
  • Move your buttocks and hips back slowly as you bend your knees. 
  • Pause for a second as soon as your thighs are parallel to the ground. 
  • Move your feet and get back to your original position. 

Recommended Repetitions: 10-12 x 3 Sets. 

It is imperative that you keep your back straight when you are performing barbell squats. If you lean forward, it will throw off your balance and create strain in your back. Keeping your chest puffed out and holding your head high will help your back to stay straight. 

If you point your toes 5 to 20 degrees outward, it will help to take the strain off your knees at the same time. Barbell squats are challenging exercises, which is why your form is particularly important. If it is your first time trying barbell squats, we highly recommend that you start with just the bar. 

Box Jump Alternatives

People Also Ask (FAQs)

What is the best box jump alternative with no box? 

In terms of raw potential, the front barbell squat is often called the “King of Exercises” for a reason. This compound lift will increase your strength and stability across the board but will require a barbell and potentially a power rack. The Bulgarian split squat is another great alternative. 

What box jump substitutes are used in Crossfit? 

Crossfit utilizes a range of different substitutes for the box jump. Some of the more popular ones are Depth Drops, Depth Jumps, and Ankle Bounces. Keep an eye on the main Crossfit website to see their up-to-date workouts. 


Conclusion

All of these exercises are great for people who want an alternative to box jumps or simply want to improve on their jumping abilities. 

We strongly advise that you start slow when you are trying out a new box jump alternative. Perfecting your form is the most important part of any exercise or technique, especially ones that utilize your back