Looking for a plyo box jump substitute? I don't blame you, they strengthen your legs and improve explosive power. But, sometimes they can be harsh on your joints.

Whether you don't have the equipment or want to avoid the exercise because of an injury, I can help. 

In this article you'll discover the best box jump variations. I've 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. 

Below are 8 of the best box jump alternatives I've used for my clients.

Each one has their own benefits and drawbacks, so be sure to try each one out and see what fits into your workout. 

1. Jump Squat (Alternative Box Jump For At Home)

Woman Doing Squat Jumps Outdoors

Difficulty Level: Easy and suitable for everyone. 

For beginners and people who do not have access to a plyometric box, the squat jump 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 muscles. Jump squats increase your lower body strength and coordination in the same way that a box jump does. (Don't confuse it with the tuck jump, it's different).  

The squat jump might sound like a simple exercise, but they are surprisingly tricky when done correctly and are an excellent plyo box alternative.

For beginners, it is the perfect workout to give you a solid foundation when it comes to plyometric exercises. 

Who needs the plyo box jump, right?

Squat jumps are one of my go-to plyometric box workout routines, especially while I'm travelling. 

You can perform them in a hotel room, park, commercial gym... pretty much anywhere. Add this exercise to your plyometric training, it's a good box jump alternative. Think of it as a bodyweight squat (or air squat)... but with an explosive jump. 


  • You can perform squat jumps anywhere.
  • Body weight plyometric exercise.
  • Uses your bodyweight.
  • Improves your vertical jump.


  1. In an open space, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart (in a jumping stance).
  2. Drop your hips into a quarter squat and drive them in an upward direction. 
  3. Jump powerfully into the air while keeping your legs and body straight. 
  4. Land softly on the ground by bending your knees to absorb the impact. 
  5. Repeat and finish your squat jumps. 

Recommended Repetitions: 12-15

Tips From A Trainer!

  • You can improve your strength and progress with jump squats by adding weight to your squat jump (using dumbbells or weighted vest). Or turn the movement into a broad jump. 
  • There are many variations you can try such as broad jumps, or even the tuck jump, each are an excellent alternative to the box jump exercise.

2. Lunge (Box Jump Alternative Without A Box)

Man Doing Static Lunge Exercise

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. 

If you're dealing with knee pain, but you also don't want to hinder your fitness progress, you can try out lunge alternatives that can help reduce knee discomfort, keeping your workout routine on track without worsening your knee issues.

Forward Lunge: The most common variation of a lunge. 

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


  • Easy to perform anywhere.
  • You can easily add weight. 
  • Safe for beginners.
  • Always a tough exercise no matter how advanced you are.


  1. Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. 
  2. Keep your toes forward and your feet flat on the floor.
  3. Move your weight onto your left heel and step forward and bend your knees to 90 degrees.  
  4. Keep your knees bent and drive back to the original position. 
  5. Repeat the same steps on the right side. 

Recommended Repetitions: 8 For Each Leg x 3 Sets.

Curtsy LungeThe most difficult variation of a lunge. 

  1. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and put your hands on your hips. 
  2. Move one foot forward in a stepping motion. 
  3. Bend your knees until your thighs are at 90-degrees. 
  4. Move in an upward direction and bring your working leg back to the starting position. 
  5. Repeat the same steps on the right side. 

Recommended Repetitions: 8 For Each Leg x 3 Sets

Tips From A Trainer!

  • 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. 
  • Make this movement harder by performing walking lunges.

Related Article - Best Leg Press Alternatives

3. Bulgarian Split Squat 

Woman Doing Bulgarian Split Squats In The Gym

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 (same muscles as the box jump). 

No matter how advanced you are, the Bulgarian split squat NEVER gets easier. It's got to be one of the greatest box jump alternative exercises on this list. It's a staple in my lower body workouts. 

You can diversify your workout by exploring Bulgarian split squat alternative exercises. This not only adds variety to your routine but also challenges different muscle groups, enhancing your overall fitness.


  • Works one leg at a time.
  • Good for all ability levels. 
  • Builds a strong lower body.
  • Uses the same muscle groups as the plyo box jump.


  1. 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. 
  2. Put your one foot on the bench behind you while keeping the top of your foot down. 
  3. Slowly bend down into a squat until your front quad is parallel with the floor while keeping your foot in line with your knee. 
  4. Maintain a slight forward lean to increase glute and leg activation.
  5. It is fine to let your back leg bend naturally, but do not let it take the weight of your front foot. 
  6. Move your front foot into the ground and return to the starting position. 

Recommended Repetitions: 8 For Each Leg x 3 Sets

Tips From A Trainer!

  • 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's essential 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.

4. Step-Ups (Low Impact Box Jump Alternative)

Man Showing How To Do 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. 

You won't need the box jump with weighted step ups in your arsenal.

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. 

Weighted 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.


  • Builds strong glutes and quads. 
  • Great for all ability levels. 
  • Works the same muscles as the box jump.


  1. Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart, a foot in front of a bench, chair, or elevated platform.
  2. Bring your left leg up and push your heel down first. 
  3. Step up with your right foot to meet your left leg. 
  4. Move your right foot down as you bend your left knee. 
  5. Bring your left foot down and resume your original position. 

Recommended Repetitions: 8-10 For Each Leg

Tips From A Trainer!

  •  Make sure your lead leg (the one on the bench/step) is doing all of the work. DON'T push off your rear foot, it'll remove the stress from your leg muscles. 
  • Struggling with weighted step ups? Use just your body weight during this alternative to box jumps.

Related Article - Best Pull Up Bar Ab Workouts

5. Squat Push Press (Box Jump Alternative No Jumping)

Woman Doing Squat Push Press Exercise In The Gym

Difficulty Level: Slightly Difficult. 

A dumbbell thruster (also known as a squat push press) is basically a full-body explosive movement with a heavy focus on the legs and shoulders.

It allows you to harness all the muscles you usually use in the box jumps 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 the box jump exercise.

In addition, the extra weight will improve your levels of strength and effectiveness that is needed to push off in the middle of box jumps. 


  • Works your entire body.
  • Helps improve power output. 
  • Can be performed in most places using minimal equipment.


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

Recommended Repetitions: 12-15 For Each Side 

Tips From A Trainer!

  • Ensure 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.  
  • Want to make this box jumps alternative less leg focused? Try starting in a half squat position.

6. Hex Bar Deadlift (Box Jump Alternative For Bad Knees)

Woman Doing A Hex Bar Deadlift Exercise In Garage Gym

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

The Trap bar deadlift is one of the most popular exercises in the fitness world. People often use them as a compound exercise as they work almost every single muscle in the human body. 

Trap bar Deadlifts tend to focus on leg power and strength, making them the perfect alternative exercise for 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. 

You'll forget all about the box jump with this lower body exercise. 

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

I often use this exercise with my clients who suffer from knee pain. The hex bar deadlift is a hip dominant movement, so it removes a lot of the stress from the knees. Plus, it's a low impact exercise so you can use it to develop strength in the muscles around your knee joint. 


  • Easier for beginners to learn how to deadlift. 
  • Builds overall body strength. 
  • Develops your posterior chain. 
  • Increases power output. 


  1. Start with your desired weight on the hex bar (we recommend that you start small). 
  2. Stand in the center of the bar with your feet shoulder-width apart. 
  3. Bend with your knees and hips (bring your body forward) grab the bar at the handles. 
  4. Keep your back straight and engage your core muscles as you raise your hips to create slight tension in your legs and hamstrings. (It'll look like a half squat position). 
  5. Push your feet into the ground and stand straight. 
  6. 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

Tips From A Trainer!

  • Maintain a neutral spine during this exercise to limit unnecessary stress on your back. 
  • Don't over extend at the top of the movement (this is a common mistake). Doing so places too much strain on your lower back and can result in injury. 

Related Article - Best Roman Chair Workouts

7. Hex Bar Jump 

Man Performing Hex Bar Jump Exercise In The Gym

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

The hex bar jump (aka trap 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. 

You can use the trap bar jump to develop a higher jump, peak power, and force. You can even 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. 

The trap bar jump is basically a squat jump BUT with a ton of added weight. What's not to like?

Trap bar jumps are one of my favorite plyometric exercises and I only use them with my more advanced clients. It's one of the more difficult jumping exercises. 


  • Improves lower body explosiveness. 
  • Trap bar jump squats are brilliant for athletes. 
  • Works the same muscles as the box jump.
  • Improves your vertical jump height.
  • Excellent plyometric exercise.


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

Recommended Repetitions: 8-12 x 2 Sets

Tips From A Trainer!

  • Always make sure there is tension in your arms before you lift the weight from the floor. You don't want to risk an injury like a torn biceps tendon, do you? 

8. Barbell Squat (Box Jump Alternative For CrossFit)

Man Doing Barbell Squats

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. 


  • It's the KING of all exercises (need I say more?).
  • Perfect for developing HUGE leg muscles. 
  • Lower impact than plyo box jumps.


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

Recommended Repetitions: 10-12 x 3 Sets

Tips From A Trainer!

  • Always maintain a neutral spine during this alternative exercise for box jumps. Keeping your chest puffed out and holding your head high will help your back to stay straight. 
  • Point your toes out slightly (think 11 o'clock and 1 o'clock), it'll help to take the strain off your knees at the same time. 

Muscles Used In Box Jumps & The Alternatives

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. 

While box jumps are a brilliant exercise, there are plenty of box jump variations you can use instead. 

Why Do Box Jumps? (Benefits Explained)

There are many reasons to perform box jumps during your workout routine. Some of the most important benefits of box jumps are:

  • 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. 

 Scientific research has proven the above to be true.[1] 

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. 

There's no reason why you shouldn't add some form of jump training to your workout regime. 

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. 

If selecting the best plyo box, consider the material, its stability, and whether the size is adjustable for varying workout intensities. 

Take into account the storage requirements, especially if space is a constraint, as some models are stackable or collapsible. Always ensure the plyo box aligns with your budget, but remember not to compromise on quality and safety.

Box Jump Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best box jump alternative with no box? 

The best box jump alternative with no box is the barbell squat, which is often called the “King of Exercises”. 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? 

Some of the most popular box jump substitutes in CrossFit are Depth Drops, Depth Jumps, and Ankle Bounces. Keep an eye on the main Crossfit website to see their up-to-date workouts.[2


All the box jump alternatives listed above 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.




Lee Kirwin

Lee Kirwin

Lee has worked in the fitness industry for over 15 years. He's trained hundreds of clients and knows his way around the gym, including what you need for your garage gym. When he's not testing products, he loves weightlifting, Ju Jitsu, writing, and gaming.