The Ninja Exercise: Deck Squat + Box Jumps


Strength work is definitely a huge emphasis at our training facility.  Mobility work is equally as important. But in my professional experience the real magic happens to people when you prepare them with the proper foundation of strength and mobility and then teach them SPEED and POWER exercises such as Kettlebell Swings, Sprinting, and Jumping.

A great way to introduce power and speed into your training program is to perform the DECK SQUAT. The Deck Squat with a box jump is an excellent movement for many reasons:

  • Improves Righting and Tilting reflexes because of the rolling on the back and vestibular activation
  • Improves dynamic ankle mobility
  • Teaches dynamic weight transfer is a very natural way
  • Teaches the importance of LEADING WITH THE HANDS
  • Increases activation of all the fast twitch fibers of the body
  • Improves body awareness as rolling backwards is very disorientating to people
  • Improves SURVIVAL reflexes by teaching people how to safely roll onto the back
  • Teaches the natural progression from DECELERATION to ACCELERATION
  • Takes Advantage of the PRE-STRETCH that is created by rapid hip and knee flexion

The bottom line is that the Deck Squat is a wonderful, playful and fun movement. It can be rather difficult with people who have mobility issues or just lack overall body awareness.  Even getting someone to “attempt” the deck squat is a great learning lesson for so many reasons. Perfection is not the goal but progress is.

If someone has trouble with the deck squats it’s usually because of the following reasons:

  • Lack of Ankle Mobility
  • Lack of Hip Mobility
  • Inability to activate the hips and core at the same time
  • They are not going fast enough.
  • They are not pushing the ground with their hands in the bottom position

Start with low reps. Think of doing sets of 3 to 5 reps.  Forget the high rep nonsense. Focus on quality reps and be conservative. The JUMPING aspect of this movement is an entirely different skill as well.

Here are some quick tips for the Jump Aspect of this exercise:

  • Load your hips first by pushing the hips back and away from you
  • Pre-stretch the anterior shoulder by quickly throwing the arms and hands in back of your body
  • You must LOAD TO EXPLODE – (Lee Taft)
  • When you land think of landing very soft and quietly.
  • Land in a squat position and with bent knees. Never land with a stiff set of legs or locked knees.
  • Ninjas are quiet. Jumping and Landing should be quiet.

Enjoy the movement. Have fun. Be Primal. Be explosive.

What do you like about the Deck Squat?

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