A plyometrics box, also known simply as a plyo box, appears as a simple, sturdy platform on which you can step or jump while exercising. While simple in design, this box forms the basis of many an effective plyometrics routine and is an essential piece of equipment for anybody who prefers this style of exercise. Your choice in plyo boxes and the surface and space in which you use them can have a huge impact on your fitness. Here are a few things you should know about a plyo box and how to get the most out of it.
What is a Plyo Box?
A plyo box can be any elevated platform suitable for plyometric exercises. The box needs to be level, sturdy, and capable of handling repeated strong impacts. Some people use wood cubes for their plyo boxes, while others prefer solid high-impact foam, latex, or synthetic materials. A plyo box doesn’t have to be cube-shaped—in fact, many people use stools as a substitute. The term “plyo box” refers more to general shape and structure rather than a specific box form. A plyo box has to be sturdily built and flat on top. This means that even boxes that resemble stools usually have a metal box-like frame to support the user’s weight and the impact of repeated plyometric exercises.
Most people use multiple plyo boxes of different sizes during their exercises. This allows for variation in exercises and gives people a chance to try workouts that use different levels of elevation. Regardless of the size and variety of the plyo box set you choose, you should always look for certain qualities. These include the ability to withstand multiple high-intensity impacts and the comfort level on your feet, calves, and knees when you make a jump. Many plyo boxes have some cushioning along the top to help keep the body from being damaged due to the stress of a jump. Additionally, most high-quality plyo boxes have some sort of grip to help prevent slipping when you make a jump.
What is Plyo?
In order to properly choose and use a plyo box, you need to understand what plyo is in the first place. Plyo is short for plyometrics, which is also known as jump training. The goal behind this form of exercise is to get your muscles to exert the highest level of force possible in a short period. This increases your speed and strength when performed on a regular basis. Most plyometric exercises require jumping on and off a platform, and some require you to jump from one platform to another. This is where a plyo box comes in handy.
Plyo boxes serve as the basic building blocks upon which the majority of plyometric exercises are based. Some exercises might involve jumping from the ground to a plyo box, while others require you to leap from one box to another in rapid succession. It takes time to build up the coordination and muscles you need in order to get the most out of plyometric training. Most people who wish to benefit from plyo rely on a skilled trainer to help instruct them in the early phases. If you embark upon this form of exercise on your own, it is usually best to start with a large, low plyo box. As you build up more strength and coordination, you can move to smaller surfaces that require more skill and accuracy.
Why Do People Use Plyo?
People use plyometric exercises for many reasons, but it is especially useful for those who wish to increase their strength, speed, and coordination. Because the exercises involve repeated high-impact motions, they improve muscle strength and core stability very quickly. The exercises begin with simple steps and small jumps, but can advance to much more complex activities and challenging leaps.
Performing a plyometric exercise correctly requires your arms, legs, hips, and shoulders to remain in sync with one another. Although you feel the impact of most exercises in your legs first, they require a strong core to stay balanced and a good sense of coordination in order to maintain proper posture before, during, and after a leap. Plyometric exercises can be used be people who want to get into shape, but can also be added to an existing exercise routine for athletes who want to improve their speed, jumping ability, and coordination. The flexibility and variability of the exercises has led to a rapid increase in the popularity of plyometrics over recent years.
How Do You Jump a Plyometric Box?
Doing a proper jump onto a plyo box requires good form and strong core muscles. You need to start with the right posture, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart. You should be at a comfortable distance away from the plyo box—close enough that you can make the jump but far enough away that you safely challenge yourself.
As you prepare for the jump, drop into a quarter squat. When you make your leap, you should extend with your hips and swing with your arms as you push your feet into the floor to lift yourself into the air. If you have never done a plyo workout before, you might want to practice your jump on its form before you involve a box. If you have access to a full-length mirror, you can use this to evaluate your form before, during, and after your jump.
Perhaps the hardest part of plyo training is landing properly from your jump. Many people put all of their weight into their lower body, trying to stick the landing as though they are gymnasts. In plyo, you should try to land more softly. Try to keep your weight evenly distributed and to land on the box as quietly as possible. This allows you to quickly jump onto another surface without having to start the entire movement over again. At the same time, you need to make sure that your feet don’t move much once you have landed. Hopping back up or slipping to one side can cause you to lose your balance and fall off the plyo box.
What are Some Good Plyometric Exercises?
You don’t use a plyo box with every plyometric exercise, but it comes in handy for both basic and advanced routines. Here are a few of the exercises you can perform with a single plyo box:
- Step Ups: Stand in front of the box, then step on with one leg. Straighten both of your legs, bringing yourself level with the box before you step back down. This exercise helps to build leg strength. As you become more advanced, you can use a taller box or add leg weights to increase the resistance when you step up.
- Elevated Pushups: These are similar to normal pushups, but you begin with your feet on the plyo box and your body in plank position. Bend your arms to lower your chest, then extend to bring your body parallel to the floor. This exercise provides the toning of normal pushups, but the addition of the plyo box puts more emphasis on your arms, chest, and shoulders.
- Box Jumps: The most familiar plyo exercise to many, this exercise starts with you standing on the floor and then jumping onto the plyo box as instructed above. After you jump up, jump back down and then repeat the exercise. As you get more comfortable with the plyo box and its associated exercises, you can add variations to the basic box jump. For example, you can add a burpee after the jump to help boost your core and arm strength. If you become very comfortable and have access to multiple plyo boxes, you can arrange several of them in a row and then leap from one box to another.
- Step Overs: This exercise tones your legs and functions similarly to a step up, except that you begin by standing to the side of the box instead of directly in front of it. Step onto the box with one leg, then bring your other leg up so you stand on the box itself briefly. Then step down, one leg at a time, and repeat. As with a step up, you can add extra resistance in the form of weights and different box elevations if you feel like it.
- Split Squats: Start with one leg on the box and the other leg on the floor. Keeping your front foot flat, lower your body and get your knee as close to the ground as possible. Afterwards, return to your normal position and repeat with the other side. This exercise helps to increase leg strength and can also improve your overall flexibility.
Plyometrics is a terrific way to increase your strength, speed, and long-term stamina. It all starts with a basic plyo box. Use the information provided here to help you choose the right box for you. Once you have selected the appropriate box, the list of basic exercises above should be more than enough to get you started in the right direction.