A plyometric box, or a plyo box, is a sturdy, metal or wooden platform that is designed for lower-body plyometric training, which often includes repetitive jumping. You can use a small set of plyo boxes to train for specific sports skills, such as hurdling, jumping, landing on one leg and leaping. If you're new to plyometric training, work with a qualified exercise professional before training on your own.
Master the Basics
Before you get fancy with different jumping and landing patterns, get familiar with the basics. Start with bilateral exercises that involve jumping and landing on both feet, for example, box jumps. Then progress to alternating and unilateral exercises such as box jump marches and single-leg landings, respectively. Once you are familiar with these basics, use a higher box, increase the distance or height of the jumps or change the direction of the jumps, for example, jumping laterally or turning your body in mid-air during the jump. Warm up with a plyo box that is as high as one to two feet before using a higher box.
Double the Dose
Plyo box exercises may be incorporated with upper-body plyometrics so that you can develop full-body power and endurance. Use the superset method, which is often used in traditional weightlifting. For this, you perform two exercises that work different muscle groups with minimal rest in between exercises. This allows one group to work while the other group rests. For example, perform a set of box jumps or depth jumps followed immediately by a set of medicine ball overhead throws or power pushups. Rest for a minute or two before repeating the superset two to three more times.
Get High, Get Low
Interval training is often used by endurance athletes to increase their ability to sustain high-intensity aerobic. You may also apply plyo box exercises with interval training to improve your cardiovascular power without having to run outside or indoor on a treadmill. Do a short session of high-intensity exercise and follow this immediately with a longer period of lower-intensity exercise. The low-intensity part could involve the same exercise as the high-intensity exercise or a different one. For example, do box jumps for 20 seconds at a height of three feet followed by one minute of box jumps at a height of one foot. Repeat this procedure for five to six minutes, or lengthen or shorten the time as you like. To prevent extreme and possible injury, do not push yourself too hard.
Plyo box exercises can be performed two to three, non-consecutive days per week. The website Sports Fitness Advisor recommends that you rest for 48 to 72 hours in between training sessions. Beginners should start with lower-impact plyo box exercises, using a height between one to two feet. They should have a range of 80 to 100 ground contacts per training session. For example, four sets of 10 box jumps and two sets of 20 power stepups should be sufficient to start with. As you get better, progress to 100 to 140 ground contacts per session. You may reduce or increase the number of ground contacts if you find the recommended range to be too hard or too easy. Rest intervals in between sets should allow an almost full recovery. Sports Fitness Advisor says the work-to-rest ratio should be 1-to-10. For example, a 15-second bout of box jumps should be followed by a rest period of 150 seconds, or 2.5 minutes. Always warm up thoroughly with light aerobics and dynamic stretching before you work out.
- NSCA’s Performance Training Journal; Introduction to Plyometrics
- IDEA Fitness Journal: Look Before You Jump!
- Sports Fitness Advisor: Plyometric Training For Sport Specific Power
- NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training; Michael Clark et al.