Power. It’s the combination of strength and speed, and it’s absolutely integral to performing at your best during any kind of athletic endeavour. Those who understand that power is the name of the game when it comes to athletic ability also understand that plyometric exercise is undoubtedly the most popular and effective way of developing it.
Plyometric exercises are easy to build into your home workouts, and require nothing but your bodyweight and a bit of free floor space. Some of the best and most effective plyometric training techniques, however, incorporate not only your bodyweight, but gravity as well. And the best way to bring gravity into the fold is to use a plyometric box (or plyo box for short).
That said, there’s a broad range of plyo boxes out there, and deciding which is the best fit for you is not always straightforward.
So, we’re here to help.
We’ve taken a good look at the best plyo boxes on the market in 2017 and reviewed them below in order to help you make the best decision on which to add to your home gym. To make things easy, we’ve broken the reviews up into the general categories that different plyo boxes fall under: Multi-sided boxes; traditional boxes; adjustable boxes; and box sets. And because we want to help you get the most out of your plyo box(es), we’ve also included a sample of exercises that’ll get you on your way to developing some serious power.
Best Multi-Sided Plyo Boxes
Multi-sided plyo boxes are great because you essentially get 3 plyo boxes in the 1 piece of equipment (that’s why they’re also called 3-in-1 plyo boxes). Their shape makes them extremely adaptable as you’ve got a different height to work with depending on which of its sides you have it sitting on. It’s for this reason that they also tend to be more expensive than traditional and adjustable plyo boxes. They’re plyo boxes that’ll grow with you, which is why they’re great for people that are new to plyometrics and are aiming to build up to more demanding exercises over time.
All of our top multi-sided plyo boxes are made from ply wood. They’re shipped flat-packed (some have the option of being shipped assembled, which is more expensive) and you’ll need to assemble them. They screw together, and the only tool you’ll need is a Philips head screwdriver, however it’ll be much quick and easier with a power drill. It’s also a good idea to use wood glue as well as the screws, but this isn’t absolutely necessary.
Here are our top 3 multi-sided plyo boxes:
Do you know why it’s called the ‘Games Box’?
Because it’s the multi-sided plyo box that’s used in the official Crossfit games, and is made to Crossfit’s own specifications. If such a major event puts their trust in Rogue’s plyo box, then why shouldn’t we?
This box absolutely lives up to Rogue Fitness’ reputation for well-designed and crafted fitness equipment. As with all of their other original products, it’s designed and built in the USA, and they stand by it with a 1 year warranty (which doesn’t sound that great, but is actually very good for a plyo box).
What you’ll get:
- A versatile 3-in-1 box that’s perfect for intense plyometric exercises regardless of your level of ability or experience
- CNC (computer numerical control) machined, 3/4″ plywood that fits together perfectly
- Rounded edges to save doing your shins too much damage if you don’t make a jump
- You can order it flat-packed or pre-built (pre-built costs $10 extra)
- Dimensions and weight – 20″ x 24″ x 30″ | 56 lbs (25.4 kgs)
If you buy it flat-packed, you’ll have to assemble it. It comes with a pack of wood screws, but it’s recommended that you also grab yourself some wood glue. Check out the video below from Rogue on how to assemble the Games Box if you decide to get it.
The OneFitWonder multi-sided plyo boxes from Fringe Sport come a close second to the Rogue Games Box. Ultimately they’re very similar pieces of plyo equipment.
What are the similarities?
- CNC machined with puzzle joints for a perfect fit assembly
- 3/4″ plywood construction
- Both come in a 20″ x 24″ x 30″ size option
- Both come either flat-packed or pre-built
What are the differences?
- The OneFitWonder plyo box is designed in the USA, but manufactured in China
- The OneFitWonder box also comes in a size small – 16″ x 20″ x 24″
- These plyo boxes are lighter than Rogue’s – 30 lbs (13.6 kgs) for the small, 40 lbs (18.1 kgs) for the large.
Why go with the OneFitWonder over the Rogue? If you’re after a large plyo box, you’ll save about $20 if you go with the OneFitWonder (less if you order it pre-built). Also, even though Fringe Sport’s equipment is manufactured in China, it’s still good quality stuff. That said, Fringe don’t offer an explicit warranty on their plyo boxes like Rogue does.
If you think the larger boxes are going to be too much for you, then the small OneFitWonder plyo box is a very good option.
Like Rogue, Fringe have a video demonstration for assembling their flat-packed plyo boxes, which you can watch below.
Do you want even more size options for your plyo workouts? Then the 3-in-1 plyo boxes from Rep Fitness are what you’re looking for.
If you’re thinking that these plyo boxes look the same as the ones above, then you’re absolutely right; they pretty much are the same. They’re all made from 3/4″ plywood, are CNC machined with puzzle joints, have internal bracing for extra strength, and have bevelled edges to make them more safe (and less painful when you make a mistake…)
So, why go with the Rep 3-in-1 plyo boxes? The main reason is the range of sizes that you can get:
If you want a couple of small boxes for kids or youth, or to do plyometric pushups, or maybe just short step-ups, then the smaller sizes will be great.
Unlike the Rogue and Fringe Sport boxes, these don’t have a pre-built option. You will have to assemble them yourself, which is very easy to do and should take no more than 10 – 15 minutes.
Rep Fitness also have an assembly video, which you’ll find below
So, that’s our 3 best multi-sided plyo boxes on the market this year. Any one of them will help you incorporate a solid plyometrics routine into your home workouts, and develop the power you need to perform at your physical best. If you’re good with your hands and don’t want to purchase a 3-in-1 box, then you can follow this guide to making your own at home.
Best Traditional Plyo Boxes
Unlike the multi-sided boxes above, traditional plyo boxes have a single usable surface. This means that one box provides one height to work with. Also, this type of plyo box is often trapezoid in shape (wider base, narrower top) with the reason being that it’s a safer design. When you’re performing box jumps, if you ‘miss’ on a jump (fail to jump high enough) you can catch your shins on the lip of the jumping surface, which usually then causes you to fall forward and grate your shins down the edge of the box. This is how many plyometrics enthusiasts end up with badly bloodied shins. The trapezoid shape makes this kind of accident less likely.
Here are our 3 best traditional plyo boxes:
Again, these are the traditional plyo boxes used at the Crossfit games (well, the 20″ and 24″ ones anyway). If you purchase one of these, you’re looking at pretty much the same deal as the multi-sided Games Box, but you’ll only have one height per box:
- CNC machined with puzzle joints
- Smoothed edges around the jumping surface for extra safety
- Assembly necessary (you can’t get these pre-built)
Unlike the multi-sided Games Box, these traditional boxes come in 4 different sizes: 12″, 18″, 20″, and 24″
There also a nifty little 4″ booster box that can be used to give the 24″ plyo box a bit of extra height.
If you’re looking for a rock-solid traditional plyo box, designed and manufactured in the US, and trusted by the pre-eminent CrossFit event, then the Rogue Original Wood Plyo Boxes are your only option.
Again, Fringe Sport’s OneFitWonder traditional plyo boxes are very very similar to Rogue’s. They’re made from basically the same material, in basically the same way (although not made in USA), and require essentially the same assembly process.
So, why get them over the Rogues? Fringe’s traditional plyo boxes have a 30″ box for all you hardcore box jumpers. The smaller sized boxes are also slightly cheaper than Rogue’s, even with the free shipping. That said, the 24″ is about the same price once you factor in Rogue’s shipping costs.
Another to the OneFitWonder boxes is that they can be shipped pre-built, which will suit anyone who doesn’t have the tools, skills, or inclination to assemble the box themselves (even though it really is quite easy to do).
Now we’re looking at some equipment that’s a little different!
The Titan Fitness plyometric box has a steel frame, and is definitely built to withstand whatever kind of beating you can give it. Even though most wood plyo boxes are very sturdy, there’s nothing quite like the solid feel of metal to know that you’re not going to have to worry about breaking your equipment.
The steel frame has an open design so that you can nest the different sized boxes if you want. The three sizes available are 12″, 18″, and 24″.
Why get these over the Rogue or Fringe boxes?
- Steel frame construction means extra strength
- Ability to nest the different sized boxes, which will save storage space in your home gym
- No assembly required
- They’re significantly less expensive
Although the jumping surface on these boxes has a non-slip surface, the metal base will slide if you use these on hardwood, smooth concrete, or any other naturally slick surface. If you are planning to use these on this kind of surface, we recommend getting some protective foam flooring to prevent damage to your floors, and prevent the box slipping out from underneath you when you jump onto it.
If you’re looking for a good quality traditional plyo box, then you can’t go wrong with any of the 3 above. If safety is a concern for you, then make sure you go with a trapezoid box, and start with a low, manageable height. This will help ensure that you don’t miss on your box jumps are all successful, you don’t wreck your shins and potentially ruin plyometric exercises for yourself.
Best Adjustable Plyo Boxes
Adjustable plyo boxes combine the good parts of multi-sided and traditional boxes; you get varying box heights in the single piece of equipment, and they tend not to take up too much room. Therefore they’re perfect for people looking to develop their plyometric exercises but who don’t have a very large home workout space.
They do have drawbacks though: they tend not to be trapezoids, meaning that if you miss your jump, you’re likely to have very sore shins as a result. They’re also most often made from metal, which only makes missing a jump even more perilous.
This doesn’t need to be a serious issue, as long as you start out using them at their lowest height, and gradually work your way up.
Check out our top 3 adjustable boxes below:
This is probably the most expensive plyo box on the market, but boy is it a good one. Stamina Products make good quality home fitness equipment, and this adjustable plyo box is a great example of that.
What you’ll get:
- A 12″, 16″, 20″ and 24″ box in the one piece of equipment
- Easy-to-use adjustment mechanism. With the box laying flat on the jumping surface, you just need to pull the pin, fold down the guard, and adjust the legs to the desired height
- 27″ x 19″ jumping surface | 52 lbs (23.5 kgs) total weight
- Heavy-duty steel construction means it’ll take whatever abuse you can throw at it
- Plyometric workout guide included
This bad boy comes already built, so there’s no assembly necessary. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s also an investment in a great piece of plyometric equipment.
As you can see, the Titan Adjustable Plyo Box is very similar to the Stamina X above. Let’s take a look at how they’re similar, and how they’re different:
What are the similarities?
- Heavy-duty steel frame – weighs in at 50 lbs (22.6 kgs; only slightly less than the Stamina X)
- Non-slip jumping surface
- Identical pin-release locking mechanism
- 12″, 16″, 20″ and 24″ height variations
What are the differences?
- Less expensive than the Stamina X, even when at full price (by $20 – $50)
- Smaller jumping surface: 25″ x 15″ for the Titan vs 27″ x 17″ for the Stamina X
- No plyometric workout guide included
So, all-in-all they’re not terribly different pieces of equipment. Although the Titan isn’t much smaller than the Stamina, it’s footprint will save you a couple of inches, which might be handy if you have a particularly small home gym. Also, you’re not getting a workout guide with the Titan, but that shouldn’t matter too much considering how easy it is to find good plyo exercises on the net (including at the bottom of this article).
And last on our list, but certainly not least is this fairly unique adjustable plyo box from Rep Fitness. Due to it’s design, with all four legs locking into place, this adjustable plyo box is lighter than the two above (40 lbs; 18.1 kgs), yet stronger. It has a maximum capacity of 400 lbs compared to 300 lbs for the Titan and Stamina X.
That said, it’s also smaller and less adjustable. The jumping surface is 16″ x 16″, which means that you have less room for error when doing box jumps. Also, with the amount of screws sticking out of the sides on this little baby, you really don’t want to miss on a box jump and fall forward on to it. Furthermore, it only has 3 height adjustments: 16″, 20″ and 24″, making it somewhat less versatile than it’s counterparts above.
Owing to the fact that it’s smaller, lighter, less versatile and requires assembly, this adjustable plyo box is the least expensive of the three (it’s usually in the vicinity of $110 – $120). Word to the wise: this thing has a lot of screws, many of which require an adjustable wrench to tighten. Rep Fitness recommend setting aside 45 minutes to assemble this plyo box, however you should actually be able to get it done in more like 20.
Overall, it’s good choice for those looking for a smaller, lighter, yet still rock solid adjustable plyo box.
So, there you have it – the 9 best plyo boxes money can buy in 2017. If you’re looking to develop greater power, strength, speed, and / or agility, or you’re just looking to add some fun and challenging variation to your home workouts, then plyometric exercises are a fantastic option. And, having a good plyo box in your arsenal of home exercise equipment (and using it regularly) will ensure you’re getting the most out of your plyometric workouts.
Now, if you’ve got yourself a plyo box and are unsure where to start, or you simply want to find some new exercises to add to your list, then check out the section below.
Great Plyo Box Exercises
Ok, now that you’ve:
- Read through the list of best plyo boxes
- Found the one(s) that suits you and your circumstances / athletic ability
- Taken the plunge and bought it / them (and assembled if required)
It’s time to get training. Here are some great exercises you can do with your plyo box(es). We’ve separated them into beginner, intermediate and advanced exercises, so go ahead and try the ones that are best suited to your level of ability.
Beginner Plyo Box Exercises
If you’re brand new to plyo box exercises then you should start with one or more of these exercises. Do them for at least a couple of weeks to build up your ability and confidence before moving onto the more advanced exercises.
#1 Altitude Drops
Also called a “drop and freeze”, this exercise is a foundation for almost all plyo box exercises. It’s very simple:
Standing on the box, place one foot out and step off the box. Try to drop from the exact height of the box. Land on both feet with on the ground and immediately stop any further downward motion.
You want to start off with a box that is 20″ or less. As you get more comfortable with the exercise, you can increase the height. The freezing action as you land will help to build eccentric strength and develop control in the landing of all of your plyometric exercises.
#2 Step Ups
Step ups, are a fantastic exercise to start developing real strength and explosive power through your legs. Again, if you’re new to plyometrics, you want to begin with a short box for this exercise – 12″ will be perfect.
Start with one foot on the box, and the other on the floor. Then, push off with the foot on the box to launch yourself into the air. Land with the same foot on top of the box and push off again. Use a double-arm swing for height and balance.
Not only will these help build strength and power, they’re also a good cardio exercise that really gets the heart and lungs working.
#3 Box Jumps
The box jump is what plyo boxes are all about right? This is a great exercise to properly train your leg muscles in correct jumping mechanics. This is the exercise that shreds the shins of those who try to do too much, so a 12″ box is the max height that you should be starting with.
Stand on the ground with feet either shoulder or hip-width apart. Using the double-arm swing jump from the ground onto the box, making sure your feet spacing stays even, and you land with both feet on the box at the same time.
The progressions of this exercise can be fun and extremely challenging. Just make sure you build a solid foundation first, because you really don’t want to miss on a box jump.
Intermediate Plyo Box Exercises
Once you’ve got a good few weeks of the beginner exercises under your belt, try moving onto these intermediate exercises.
#1 Depth Jumps
Depth jumps are the original plyometric exercise. They use ground reaction forces, which are key to developing explosive jumping power. Ground reaction forces occur when you use gravity to impose force against the ground, and then use the strength and power of your legs to overcome this force. Start with a 12″ box:
Stand on the box, with toes close to the front edge. Step from the box and drop to land on both feet like you do with an altitude drop. As soon as you land, spring back up as quickly as you can and jump into the air. When you step from the box, try not to let your heels touch the ground, stop yourself from settling into the landing, and make your contact with the ground as short as possible.
Depth jumps can be stressful on your body, so do a maximum of 30 on any one day, and make sure you have at least one rest day in between workouts that include this exercise.
#2 Side to Side Box Jumps
This is a box jump drill that’s great for building up your ground reaction time, which will translate into better agility. No matter what level of experience you have, this exercise is really only suitable for short boxes (12″ or less).
Stand beside your plyo box with feet shoulder-width apart. Start by jumping onto the box and then back onto the ground on the other side, then immediately back onto the box. Continue to jump side-to-side across the top of the box for an set amount of time; each touch on top of the box counts as one rep.
When first beginning, only go for 30 seconds. Gradually try to work your way up to 90 seconds without stopping. Getting better at reacting to the ground force is the name of the game with this drill. Something that can help you react as quickly as possible is to imagine the floor is lava, and you want to spend as little time as possible on it.
#3 Alternating Step Ups
This exercise is a more advanced variation on the Step Ups shown above.
Start with one foot on the box, and the other on the floor. Push off with the foot on the box to launch yourself into the air. This time, land with the opposite foot on top of the box and immediately push off again with this foot. Use a double-arm swing for height and balance.
Again, this is great exercise for building strength and power, as well as improving your coordination.
Advanced Plyo Box Exercises
Once you’re really comfortable with the beginner and intermediate exercises above, try these plyo box exercises to add some serious difficulty to your workouts.
#1 Single-Leg Depth Jumps
The single-leg depth jump is exactly what it sounds like – a one-legged variation on the depth jump shown above. You can do this with any box up to 24″.
Stand on your box, with your toes close to the edge. Step off the box and land on one foot – the same one you stepped off with. Then jump as high as possible, landing back on the same foot. Keep your contact with the ground as short as possible. For added difficulty, jump to a second box after the jump.
Just like regular depth jumps, this variation can really take it’s toll on your body, so maintain the same 30 per day limit, and make sure you have a day between doing these for sufficient recovery. Do not try this exercise if you’re a beginner, especially the two-box variation.
#2 Depth Jump to 180 Box Jump
This is a simple combination of the depth jump and the box jump, but it actually takes real power to do it well multiple times. You can use two boxes of the same height, just make sure they’re not too high to begin with. You can also do this from a lower box to a higher box.
Stand on the first box with your toes close to the edge. Step off with one foot, and land with both feet as you do with a depth jump. Immediately launch yourself up onto the second box, as you do with a regular box jump. Step down and repeat.
If you only have one box, you can do a 180 degree turn after the depth jump and box jump back onto the same box. This is not an easy move, so you should get used to doing the 180 degree turn just on the ground before trying it back onto the box.
#3 Pyramid Box Jumps
This is exercise is in the same vein as the side-to-side box jumps, and is great for improving your agility via better ground force reaction. Use between three and five boxes of evenly increasing height (e.g., 12″, 16″, 20″, etc.)
Begin with your feet shoulder-width apart in front of the lowest box. Jump onto the first box, then off on the other side, onto the second box, then off, and so on down the line. After finishing the sequence, walk back to the start for recovery, or immediately hop back down the row of boxes.
By the time you’ve gotten to the third box, you’ll generally have lost some of the springiness in your legs, which puts you at greater risk of ‘missing’ your subsequent jumps. Therefore, start with just the three boxes and gradually build up to the five box sequence.
Well, there you have it. Thanks for reading our review of the 9 best plyo boxes for your home workouts, as well as taking at some of our recommended plyometric exercises. A good plyo box is extremely valuable for a good plyo workout, and a good plyo workout is extremely valuable for building some killer athletic power.
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As always, best of luck with your home workouts. Remember: When it comes to our health and fitness, we can make excuses or make the effort, but we can’t make both.
THFF (The Home Fit Freak)