Plyometrics, also known as plyos or jump training, includes a range of exercises which cause muscles to exert their maximum force over a short period of time. The idea behind the pylometric box is that you jump up, over or onto the box, (and back down again) in an explosive movement. The benefits of plyo box exercises are numerous, by targeting fast twitch muscle fibres they greatly increase power, balance, acceleration and overall agility, in addition to increasing bone density and reducing risk of injury.
Although the use of plyometrics is very popular within the CrossFit community, when kitting out a fitness gym it is fair to question how much use you would actually get out of a plyo box. Believe it or not, the plyo box is a hugely versatile piece of equipment, providing any gym goer with endless exercise options. Below I have listed some of my favourite plyo box exercises, not all of them involve jumping but you are guaranteed to work up a sweat.
With the plyo box around six inches in front of you, start in a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart. Step up onto the box, step down and repeat using alternate legs each time. When performing step-ups you should ensure the platform is high enough to allow a full range of movement. The beauty of using a plyo box to perform this move is that with a range of heights available (ranging from 6 to 30”) it is easy to find a height that is comfortable for you whilst providing scope to increase the box size as you become more competent at the movement.
To make this move more challenging you could add weight, for example by placing a weighted barbell/ performance bag on your shoulders or holding a pair of dumbbells by your sides.
Front Box Jump
With the plyo box around six inches in front of you, start in a squat position with your feet shoulder-width apart. From the squat position, jump up onto the plyo box, landing gently on the balls of your feet. Step down and repeat. As this move requires a considerable degree of coordination and power, I would recommend starting on the 6” box, gradually increasing the height as you feel comfortable. Additionally, due to this being a high impact movement I would suggest using the soft plyometric boxes to decrease the stress on joints when landing.
Box jumps are a fantastic exercise because there are plenty of progressions that can be made to increase the intensity and difficulty, for example, continual squat box jumps. Similar to the technique above, begin from a squat position and jump onto the plyo box landing in a deep squat, before jumping back down and repeating, as part of one continuous flowing movement. To make this move more challenging you could increase the distance between you and the plyo box for a longer jump.
Elevated Knee Touches
Start in a plank position with your feet placed on a plyo box behind you and your hands on the ground. Squeeze your core as you bring your right knee towards your right elbow. Return to the starting position and repeat with the left knee.
Elevated Push Ups
From the same starting position as the elevated knee touches, squeeze your core and perform a push-up. This variation has two benefits over the conventional push-up, firstly it is more difficult and second, research shows that with having your feet elevated promotes higher activation of the serratus anterior. Strong, healthy serratus anterior muscles are crucial for shoulder health.
Bulgarian Split Squat
Start in a lunge position with one foot resting on the plyo box behind you and the other out in front of you. Bend your front knee down to a 90-degree angle, until your back knee is almost touching the floor, making sure your front knee never extends past your toes.
Plyometric boxes and platforms come in a variety of materials, heights and sizes. At Gym Gear we offer 3 styles of the plyometrix box. Our 3 in 1 Wooden plyometric box is constructed from a reinforced frame of thick plywood material and offers 3 different jump heights (20” / 24” / 30”) by simply flipping the box on to a different side. The different heights are suited to perform particular exercises and allow people with different abilities to perform the same exercises, and they can increase the height as they improve to increase the difficulty. We offer the exact same product in a soft plyo box version which is essentially a wood plyo box covered with padding and then a strong vinyl outer shell. The key benefit of the soft plyo boxes are that you are less prone to scrapes and cuts should you miss jump. You are more likely to try the higher levels on a soft plyo box in the knowledge that it won’t hurt half as much if you miss the jump as it would on a wood plyo box.
The 3 in 1 plyo boxes are a great cost effective product to introduce your clients to plyometrics. However as the name suggests they are limited to just 3 different heights, and people that are new to plyometrics, or to exercise, may struggle at even the lowest height for some of the exercises described above. For this reason, Gym Gear have designed a set of 4 separate stackable soft plyo metric boxes, starting at a height of just 15cm through to a total height of 150cm (4 stacked). The stackable set of soft plyometric boxes is understandably more expensive than the 3in1 options because it is 4 plyo boxes not one. However, for small group training this means 4 people can use the set of plyo boxes at one time and there is a larger variety of heights that can be reached by stacking the boxes in different combinations. The stackable plyo boxes also offer greater stability because they have a larger base.