What is plyometric exercise, anyway?
It’s a great training style that works on the principle of achieving maximum muscle force in the shortest time. This rapid stretch-shortening cycle bases itself on the idea that a muscle contraction is stronger if it follows the lengthening of that muscle.
But that is not its major benefit. That’s reserved for the fact that plyometric exercise can closely simulate actual athletic or sports performance, a facet that’s always been short in the traditional resistance training arena. It’s worth noting that practioners recommend plyometrics as the sport for you if you’re looking to develop your athletic power to its maximum.
Do I need a Plyo-box or a Plyo-step?
They’re actually more or less the same thing. If your plyo-box is short, it will be termed a plyo-step. Their purposes are primarily to nurture muscle strength in the legs by means of step exercises- pushing onto and off of the step. A plyo-box will be slightly taller and are used for what is termed ‘depth jumps’. You’ leap up to and drop off of the box, developing explosive springing power. So which particular style you’ll invest in first will be determined by the category of exercise you most want to begin developing. Usual height ranges start as low as 6” and can venture up to 22” and beyond. Both styles can be used both to develop athletic technique and for simple power-training purposes.
What’s in a plyometric box?
Most plyo-boxes come in two styles- metal and wood. The traditional wood plyometric box will be designed like a crate, enabling you to nest them for easy storage. The metal box style will be designed more like a table, with platform and legs, to cut down on weight and make stacking convenient.
How do I know I’m making a good choice?
There’s a couple of vital features to look for in the best plyometric boxes:
- Sturdy design. These boxes need to withstand intensive routines, and must be made of durable fabrics. Not only that, the design of the box itself must be strong and able to withhold weight and great downward pressure. The frame is of particular importance, and simply must be of a trustworthy and sturdy design.
- Stability. There’s no point to the exercises- and a whole lot of potential danger- if the box is not level and stable.
- Slip-Resistance. For similar reasons to the stability, the surface of the plyometric box should be slip-resistant to avoid injury. If you’ve opted for the steel plyo-box models, you must also ensure that the feet are rubber coated to ensure they remain rooted in place, especially when used indoors on slicker surfaces. No matter what style of box you have chosen, it must remain in place during use- and preferably should not mark your floor whilst doing so.
How do I get the best plyo-boxes for me?
The first and most vital thing is to make certain you know how and for what training you wish to use the boxes. This will help you best decide on the style and design that will be perfect for you, as well as assisting you with the nitty-gritty details like how many boxes and of what sizes you might require.
Give a thought to the material you would like your plyo-boxes to use, too. So long as they are well designed, most box types will be suitable, but you may favour wood for its [mild] impact absorbing abilities. You may choose steel for its sturdiness, or foam covered for its impact reduction. It will depend on personal taste. Each of these design styles can be worthwhile investments.
If you’re new to using plyo-boxes, you’ll probably want to start with just one box. A slanted side will make it less stressful on your joints if you fail to clear your box totally while you’re learning. Rounded edges to the platform styles are a plus for beginners for the same reasons. You probably won’t need an adjustable box, either, if you’re just starting out. It’s better to make an investment in one quality product and let it’s results speak for themselves.
Plyo-box sets are aimed at users who want to lay out obstacle courses for themselves. If this is your goal, it will often be cheaper to take advantage of the plyo-box sets out there, rather than invest in them one at a time. If you only need the single platform, but will need a versatility of height and shape, the adjustable plyo-box is probably for you. The adjustable plyo-box world is varied, and you can pick a design that will suit you- some allow freestyle adjustments, some come with preset heights, and still others come as sets of fully stackable boxes that are easy to interchange.
Which plyo-box should I get?
Once you’ve got a firm idea of the style of box that will suit you, you can start shopping around. Below, we’ve reviewed a few of the best boxes around as voted by users just like you.
If you’re in the market for a single plyo-box that will last and last and kick-start your plyometric training career, the Ader Sports plyometric platform box is for you. If you like to shop for US products, the company is also an anchor of the US sports market. The frame is fully welded with a ribbed non-slip top, and its scratch proofed. It comes in a variety of heights, and it starts at a very attractive price. Users find it sturdy, strong and effective. Do note that they don’t ship out of the US due to weight, and cannot ship to Alaska and Hawaii for similar reasons. If the budget is tight, you can also consider SPRIs platform, which comes recommended for stability and sturdiness. It’s probably not a box for you, though, if you’re still in the learning stages. It’s full metal construction and the edges can cause some damage if you land poorly.
If you’d rather start big and go for a set of plyo-boxes that consistently score well with users, you couldn’t do much better then Ader’s stacking platforms. Or opt for New York Barbell’s convenient 3pc set for a budget option users find sturdy and endlessly durable- it’s even been used by school teams to great effect and lasting quality and there’s few more unforgiving environments. Sensitive users may prefer to investigate TDSs 4pc set though, as some user’s have remarked on a chemical smell to the New York Barbells range. While they earn great ratings, some user’s do suggest tightening the rubber feet caps on the TDS brans before use to avoid them slipping off.
If you’re in the market for an adjustable box that will help you meet all your goals, consider Fuel Performance’s adjustable plyo-box. With a solid 4/5 Amazon rating, this attractive offering will fit into most home gyms with ease. Its spring-button height adjustment is easy to use and the feet have been designed specifically to be non marking. It’s been tested by users of 230lbs and not wavered either, so you can feel confident the height increments won’t fail on you unexpectedly. It’s attractively priced, especially if the budget is tight, and ships fast. Some users do have the odd gripes about the [lack of] ease of assembly, but otherwise rate the product highly.
Improve the power
Whilst the idea is achingly simple, the science behind the plyo-box is rock solid- just like your box should be. If you’re a Crossfit fan, are breaking into plyometric training, or are simply looking to improve the power and drive you bring to your athletic performance this style of training will work for you. And there’s no better place to start then with the simplicity and ease of a plyometric training box- or a few, if you prefer the idea of obstacle training and setting yourself a gauntlet to challenge yourself with. Make a solid investment in a box with great construction, and it will still be rewarding you with muscle-pumping practices for many years.