A plyo box is typically used during Plyometrics-style workouts, also called plyos or jump training. The idea behind plyo box is that you jump up, over or onto the box, (and back down again) in an explosive movement, making you work extremely hard for short intervals. Popular with the CrossFit community, plyometrics are, well, pretty hardcore.
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The plyo box was the brainstorm of Russian scientist Dr. Yuri Verkhoshansky. He developed jump training as a means to increase the speed and endurance of Russian track and field athletes. Dr. Verkhoshansky published his research in 1964 about the methods and success of Plyometric exercise, and plyo box exercises soon became popular with athletes and fitness buffs around the world.
The benefits of plyo box exercises is the ability to increase physical power for quick bursts of energy. It’s all about targeting your fast twitch muscles, improving strength, speed and even increasing your bone density.
Plyometric exercise requires stamina, strength, endurance, and flexibility. Warm up with stretches, skipping, or jogging in place before beginning a plyo box circuit to ensure that your muscles are warm and to prevent injuries. Because this workout is so intense, it is recommended to do no more than three plyo box workouts weekly.
For each of these exercises, aim to perform three sets of 15 repetitions with one minute of rest between sets. In the beginning, you may not be able to complete the entire three sets. Not all of these exercises involve jumping, but all of them are guaranteed to work up a sweat.
Start at your fitness level. Try these six plyo box moves for a total body workout.
Beginners Box (Or Step-Ups)
Begin with the lowest plyo box (you don’t want to scrape your shins on the first try!). Practice jumping on the ground first, then step up and off the plyo box several times to get the feel for the box. With your ply box about six inches in front of you, place your feet shoulder-width apart. Step up to the box, step down, repeat. Once you’ve found a box height that is comfortable for you, you can begin your workout in earnest.
Front Box Jump
Now that you have a feel for the plyo box, increase the height of your plyo box. The Front Box Jump is known for increasing your vertical jump. Glutes and quadriceps become stronger the more you repeat this exercise. With your plyo box about six inches in front of you, place feet shoulder-width apart. From squat position, jump on to the plyo box, landing gently on the balls of your feet. Step down, rest, repeat.
Lateral Box Jump
Crank up your most motivating gym tunes: This is intense and truly not for the weak. If you can perform these lateral jumps, kudos to you. With your plyo box about six inches in front of you, place feet shoulder-width apart. From a lateral position, jump on to the plyo box, landing on the balls of your feet. Step down, rest, repeat. Try a few of these on the ground before attempting to jump on the plyo box. Shawn Horcoff at Stack.com shows you how here.
Elevated Knee Touches
Using a plyo box the height that you are comfortable with, but high enough that you feel the burn. To increase the intensity (insanity) of any of these exercises, add ankle/wrist weights, a weight vest, or dumbbells. With your plyo box behind you, begin in plank position. Place feet on top of plyo box (in plank position). Squeeze core as you bring your right knee towards your right elbow. Return to starting position and repeat with the left knee.
Begin in plank position, positioning feet on the plyo box and hands on the ground. Use the same technique and form as a standard push-up. Squeeze your core and lower down into a push up. Add ankle/wrist weights to increase intensity. Find out more at 12minuteathlete.com.
Continual Squat Box Jumps
Use the same technique as above, but instead of jumping, landing, and resting, immediately jump back onto the plyo box in one continuous flowing movement, with a deep squat at the top. Begin from squat position a jump on to the plyo box, squatting down on the box before jumping back down and repeating. Crank up the heavy metal. To add greater intensity, increase the distance between you and the plyo box for a longer jump.
Bulgarian Box Lunge/Split Box Lunge
Set up in a lunge position with one foot behind you, resting on the box, and the other out in front of you. Bend your front knee down to a 90-degree angle, until you back knee is nearly touching the floor (but not quite). Make sure your front knee never extends past your toes. For added resistance, hold dumbbells while you do this exercise.
As with any exercise program, consult with a professional fitness trainer for correct form and technique. Avoid injury and strain at all costs. Check with your healthcare professional before beginning any new intense exercise.