Chest Training – Upper Body Box Jumps

Just like box jumps can create lower body explosiveness, you can use upper body box jumps to generate upper body explosiveness. This exercise can help you train your chest to engage all of your pectoral muscles instantly creating much more bench press power off your chest.

Muscles Used for this Exercised

  • Primary Muscle Groups: Pectorals
  • Secondary Muscle Groups: Triceps
  • Stabilizers: Latissimus Dorsi (upper back) and Biceps

Exercise Classification:

  • Explosive
  • Compound

Exercise Technique

  • Equipment: A pair of aerobic steps make very good jump boxes; you can adjust the height to increase or decrease difficulty; place 2 aerobic steps next to each other just outside the width of your hand position for your pushups
    • Hand and Foot Position: Start from the pushup position
    • Start from the pushup position with your hands on the floor
  • Perform a pushup from the floor, driving yourself up off the floor explosively; your hands should come up completely off the floor
  • Catch yourself by moving your hands up onto the steps; perform a pushup on the boxes, driving yourself up off the boxes again explosively
  • Move your hands in again catching yourself on the floor
  • Alternate your push-ups from the floor and from the boxes; one push-up from the floor and one push-up from the boxes is one repetition
    • A wider hand position will increase emphasis on your chest, a narrower hand position will increase emphasis on your triceps
    • A wider foot position will increase your stability, making the pushups easier; a narrower foot position will require more core strength for stability

Strength Standard

  • You should be able to do a proper push-up before trying this exercise; box jumps from the knees are much less effective
    • A proper pushup means you lower your body until your upper arms are parallel with the floor before driving back up
  • If you’re doing box jumps after a bench/chest workout, you should target hitting at least 5-10 good reps
  • If you complete upper body box jumps before exhausting your chest, you should shoot for 8-20 repetitions

Note: The key to this exercise is how explosively you can drive your upper body up off the floor, not how many reps you can hit. If you can complete 50 box jumps for example, try increasing the height of your box.

Common Mistakes

  • Excessive Bend in your Elbows: Your goal is to drive yourself off the floor with enough power to propel yourself up onto the boxes. If you have to bring your arms up bending your elbows to 90 degrees to catch yourself on the boxes, they are too high or you are not driving yourself up hard enough.

Exercise Safety

  • When you land on the floor or on the boxes, you should have a slight bend in your elbows and use your arms to absorb the landing – try to land as softly as you can. Landing with your elbows locked will increase the strain on your elbows and shoulders.


  • Close Grip: Moving your hands in closer will increase the range of motion of your pushups, and increase the emphasis on your triceps. A wider hand position will increase the emphasis on your pectorals.
  • Box Height: As discussed, a higher box will increase the difficulty of the exercise, requiring you to generate much more explosive power to propel yourself up onto the boxes.

Additional Explosive Chest Exercises

  • Clapping Pushups
  • Bench Press Throws
  • Speed Bench Press

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