The box jump is an exercise that seems pretty self-explanatory. As in, jump up? Onto the box?

But it’s a more advanced movement than you may think, explains Julia Avery, an instructor at New York City interval training workout studio The Fhitting Room.

“A lot of people, rather than jumping high, they jump and then tuck their knees up really fast,” she says. “They land in this low-squat, hunched-over position. They’re not jumping high enough to shift their mass.” Many people also let their knees collapse in when they land, which can put them at risk for injury.

 Why care? You’re likely to come across the move in a class soon, since it’s popular in functional training workouts and CrossFit, and there are plenty of reasons to include it in your routine. “Box jumps are really good for developing explosive strength that people don’t get necessarily from a squat or a deadlift,” Avery says, and they provide plenty of cardio with less impact than jumping up and down on the ground (like during a jump squat or jumping rope), since you’re landing on a higher surface.

To help you get it right, she walked us through a box jump tutorial developed by the Fhitting Room as part of its Fhit Fundamentals series (which also provides direction on other popular moves like kettlebell swings and thrusters).

Scroll down to perfect your platform plyometric game, and don’t forget: If you can’t nail the proper form from the get-go, you need to switch to a lower box or start with easier exercises, like a single-leg step-up, to build strength in the lower body first.

1. Prepare to jump

Stand in an athletic position, with your feet shoulder-width apart, at a comfortable distance from the box. To initiate the movement, bend your knees and push your hips back while swinging your arms behind you. Push your feet off the floor explosively to propel yourself onto the box.

2. Jump and land softly

To absorb the impact into your glutes and hamstrings, land in a partial squat, with your back flat, chest up (don’t round!), and your knees tracking over your toes. If your feet are making a lot of noise, something’s wrong—and you likely need to back up and try a lower box or strengthen with step-ups first.

3. Carefully step down

Stand up tall and then step back down one foot at a time.

Next up: Try these three smart, creative ways to do a deadlift.

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