Have you ever used plyometrics in your workouts? Do you know why you should? Don’t even know what plyometric exercises are?
Don’t worry, I didn’t either!
Today I’m sharing my favorite plyo box exercises that you can do at home to really challenge your fitness. After reading this post, you’ll be able to confidently say you know what plyometrics are how to do your own plyo box workout!
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What is Plyometrics?
Plyometrics are explosive or powerful movements that challenge your muscles in a different way than typical cardio and strength movements. Plyometric training helps to develop your power, strength, balance, and agility, so your muscles are growing but are also becoming more responsive. Tuck jumps, plyo pushups (where your hands leave the floor), box jumps – those are all plyometric movements.
For an official definition…
Plyometrics: exercise involving repeated rapid stretching and contracting of muscles (as by jumping and rebounding) to increase muscle power
Plyo exercises are a great way to add variety to your workout while working your fast twitch muscles. These are the ones athletes use so they can react quickly and efficiently.
What is a plyo box?
A plyo box is more or less exactly what it sounds like: a piece of equipment shaped like a box, or a type of sturdy elevated surface that many people use and incorporate into plyometric exercises.
Many are simply a wooden box that is used for exercising, but there is also a soft plyo box (a soft foam plyo box is more forgiving on the shins) as well as plyo boxes that look more like rubber-topped stools and not so much an actual box. Plyometric boxes come in different heights to give users a variety of challenges.
Ever seen someone do box jumps? The box that they are using is some version of a plyo box.
Plyometric exercises that incorporate a plyo box usually consist of simple box jumps, squats, step ups, lunges, dips, even pushups. There are a variety of exercises you can do, from stability exercises to strength training exercises to explosive power exercises – working your entire body by using one simple box.
The possibilities are endless, as long as you’re actively using the box in some way.
Many modern gyms incorporate a plyo box into their exercises, especially gyms that are based on CrossFit or are geared toward cross training. They are also perfect for a home gym since they are so versatile, inexpensive, and take up little space.
Plyometric boxes can be used for a variety of moves that improve athletic performance, coordination, agility, strength, and promote fat loss.
Who can benefit from using a plyo box?
Beginners may want to start out with some of the basic moves, as the advanced moves can be difficult to perform safely when you have less experience and don’t know your limits yet.
I highly recommend that you attempt some of the moves without the plyo box first. You don’t want to do high impact moves without knowing if your body can handle it, and you definitely don’t want to attempt them without ensuring you understand the proper form.
As I mentioned earlier, plyometrics are very beneficial to athletes, but you don’t have to be an athlete to do plyometric exercises. Regardless of who or where you are in your workout journey, by incorporating plyometrics you can increase your power and speed strength in your muscles.
8 Best Plyo Box Exercises for All Fitness Levels
These plyo box exercises target primarily the lower body by increasing your leg strength while getting your heart rate up. Before starting, grab your plyo box and make sure that it doesn’t wobble or slide. If it does, you can put a yoga mat under it to keep it stable. Then, grab your best supportive shoes and let’s get going!
For a full lower body strength workout, do 2-3 sets of each move, aiming for 10-15 reps each. If you’re a beginner, do one set of each with 10-15 reps. Make sure to keep your core engaged and use good form in every move!
Front Step Ups
While facing the box, step your right foot up onto the box. Plant your right foot firmly in the middle of the box, and drive up by pressing through your right heel. This will help to activate your glute (you can squeeze it a little too!) during the movement.
At the top, bring your left knee up to hip height while you balance on the box. Return to the floor by stepping that left foot back to your starting position, and putting your right foot back on the floor as well.
You can alternate feet if you choose, or focus on one side before switching to the next. Just make sure to complete the same number of step ups on each side, to keep your workout balanced.
To make things a little more difficult, hold some dumbbells to increase the amount of weight your legs have to lift.
Lateral Step Ups
This move is similar to front step ups, the difference being that you are standing with your side facing the box.
With the box to the left of you, step up on the box with your left foot. Then bring your right knee up to hip height as you did before. Really keep your core braced to help with balance during this move. Step your right foot back down and tap your left foot to the ground to complete one rep.
This move targets the muscles in the side of your hips and booty. Again, you can make this a little more difficult by holding a pair of dumbbells.
I’d definitely recommend that you try doing a squat jump before attempting this move, just to make sure your body can handle the move.
When doing a box jump, you should face the box with your feet about shoulder-width apart. You can swing your arms to increase your momentum, but you should focus on getting power from your lower body. How much you bend your knees is up to you. Explode from the ground as you jump up on to the box, and land in a squat position.
Be careful that when you land, your knees do not roll in and that you land with your entire foot, not with your weight focused in your toes or heels.
You can choose to jump back down (by jumping backwards without turning around) and land in a squat, or can get down by just stepping off the box.
Start with lower boxes first to get a feel for the exercise (I’m using the 12 inch height here), then challenge yourself later by increasing to taller boxes.
Want to make this move more challenging? Turn it into a burpee box jump! After jumping up onto the box and back off, put your hands on the floor and jump your feet behind you so that you are in plank position. Jump your feet back up to your hands and stand for one complete rep. Without pausing, jump right back on top of the box and keep going!
To do a switch lunge, start with feet shoulder-width apart and stand in a lunge position with your right foot on the box and your left leg behind you. You should still have a 90 degree angle in both legs, or the closest you can get to it.
Then, jump straight up into the air by powering yourself up with your right foot, switching legs and landing with your left foot on the box and your right leg behind you. This is better shown with a video than pictures, so I made a little GIF for you!
Switch lunges can also be done without a box, and it’s perfectly ok to try them flat on the floor before progressing to an elevated surface.
Up and Overs
This move is similar to lateral step ups, but there’s a catch: instead of stepping up on the box, you’re going to push off and over the box, landing with the opposite leg on the box and the first leg on the floor on the opposite side of the box.
Start with your side facing the box, one foot on the box and the other on the floor. Jump up and over the box (stepping the other foot on the box and stepping the first one on the other side is totally acceptable if you’re not able to jump up and over) and land with your feet swapping positions on the other side.
Feel free to swing your arms for momentum, but focus on powering up through your lower body to maximize your vertical jump height while keeping up your speed..
Stand in front of the box with both feet on the ground. Raise one foot and tap it on the box, then set down. Repeat with the other side. Try to do this as fast as you can.
To really get the most out of this exercise, make the movement continuous by having only one foot on the ground at a time. Stay on the balls of your feet and quickly tap your toe to the edge of the box as you continually switch feet.
Bulgarian Split Squats
Bulgarian split squats are a little more difficult, so if you’re a beginner don’t feel bad if these are awkward for you!
Face away from the box, placing your right toes on top of the box behind you, with your left foot under you. Keeping your feet shoulder width apart, lower your body down until you reach a 90 degree angle with both knees. While your body weight should be evenly distributed, you should be putting most of the force in your left heel as you press back up to a standing position.
Complete all of the reps on one leg, then switch and repeat with the alternate leg.
Split squats are similar to stationary lunges, but by elevating your back foot on the box, you challenge your balance as well as your muscles in a different way.
Try this at first without dumbbells, then add some weight once you’re comfortable and think you can use a challenge.
Elevated Glute Bridges
These are essentially like regular glute bridges, but your feet are on the box, which means it works your hamstrings as well as your glutes. It also reduces the work that your quads are able to do in this position (as sometimes quads like to take over when you do glute bridges flat on the floor).
Lie down with your feet on the box. Engaging your glutes, press up so your hips are in the air. Hold for a few seconds, squeezing your glutes, and then slowly lower down.
To make this more difficult, place a dumbbell on your hips.
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Add plyometric exercises to your workout routine
In addition to these lower body plyo box exercises, there are a number of other plyo box workouts you can do. You can easily include upper body exercises like incline or decline pushups, mountain climber variations, and tricep dips into your fitness routine.
Sprinkle in some plyo training moves with your regular workout, or use the plyo box to do typical exercises with powerful movement to work your whole body in new ways! You can get a full workout with plyo moves, as wooden plyo boxes are such a versatile tool that you’ll never tire of using.
Experiment with different height options and movement patterns to train your body in different ways. The most important thing to remember is use good form and have fun being healthy!
Amanda is a mom of 4 living a mostly crunchy lifestyle outside of Atlanta, GA with her husband, 2 dogs, and a cat. As a former special education teacher who also has her personal training certification — Amanda really enjoys teaching others how to do things!
When she’s not working, Amanda enjoys DIY projects, exercising, photography, hiking, and long walks through Target.