A sturdy plyo box may sound too simple to be an effective addition to your workout routine. Find out whether they actually work and for what fitness goals.
In short, training with plyo boxes can actually work for training goals like improving leg muscle power, increasing your vertical jump, helping weight loss, strengthening muscles, and increasing running speed.
One thing to keep in mind is that you need to do the right plyo box exercises, the right number of repetitions, the right sets, have the right resistance, eat the right things, and give your body enough rest.
Additionally, a plyo box is not the only piece of fitness equipment that can help you achieve these goals. For some things like increasing muscle strength and losing weight, many other equipment and exercises are more effective.
Do plyo boxes increase your vertical jump?
As the name implies, one of the most popular uses of plyo box sets is plyometric training. This is a type of training where you do resistance training exercises with lighter weights.
A typical example of plyometric exercise is the box jump where you jump on top of a plyo box or similar elevated surface.
The main goal of doing plyometric exercises is to improve muscle power which is how much force your muscles can generate in a short amount of time.
This is supposedly helpful for improving things like vertical jump performance but you may wonder if this is actually the case.
One meta-analysis, a review of multiple other studies, from 2020 concluded that plyometric training programs were effective for improving vertical jump performance in healthy individuals (1).
Another meta-analysis from 2017 concluded that plyometric training was effective for improving vertical jump performance in female athletes (2).
In short, doing plyometric training with plyo boxes the right way has the potential the increase your vertical jump.
One important thing to note is that you can also do plyometric exercises like jump squats without a plyo box. These may be less comfortable on your knees but can work too.
Is a plyo box good for weight loss?
In a simplified version, weight loss, more specifically fat loss, comes down to making it so your body requires more energy than is coming in from food.
By doing this, your body starts using energy stores like body fat to fuel your movements.
One way to try and make this happen is doing workouts, for example with a plyo box. If these (plyo box) movements require more energy than your usual daily movements, you can consider them to help with weight loss.
In short, doing workouts with a plyo box can be good for weight loss. Mostly the plyo box exercises that help you build muscle mass or the ones that offer an intense cardiovascular workout.
One important thing to note is that there are likely also exercises that help you burn more calories for less time spent working out. A plyo box can definitely help with weight loss but it may not be the most effective tool.
Additionally, other lifestyle areas like what you eat are important when it comes to losing weight no matter what workout routine you follow.
Does a plyo box work muscles?
While getting the piece of fitness equipment is not enough, workouts with plyo boxes do have the ability to help you work your muscles.
What muscles plyo boxes work and whether they do this in sufficient amounts to reach your fitness goals depends on things like the exercises you do, your current strength level, the number of repetitions, the amount of extra weight, your nutrition, your rest, etc.
For example, plyo box jumps mostly work your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves in an explosive way.
On the other hand, feet-elevated pike pushups with a plyo box as support help you work your deltoids (main shoulder muscle), triceps (back upper arms), and trapezius (upper shoulder muscle) in a way that is helpful for strength, growth, or endurance.
Many people want to grow and strengthen their muscles. For these goals, you will often need external weights and you will often not necessarily need a plyo box.
Does a plyo box increase running speed?
Another reason why individuals do plyometric training with or without a plyo box is to improve running speed, mostly in short sprints. The question is whether plyometric training can actually help with this.
One meta-analysis, a review of multiple other studies, from 2012 concluded that plyometric training can improve sprint performance (3).
Another meta-analysis from 2022 calculated that, in the studies they investigated, Olympic weightlifting exercises like the clean and jerk resulted in similar improvements as plyometric training in sprint speed and change of direction speed (4).
In short, plyometric exercises with a plyo box have the potential to increase running speed in most individuals when done right. Again, a plyo box is not the only way to do this.
What are plyo boxes good for?
By now you can tell that training with plyo boxes can offer many benefits. There are a few fitness goals they are especially good for.
The first fitness goal where plyo boxes can offer valuable help is plyometric training in the form of box jumps. Box jumps are likely more comfortable on your knees than regular jump squats.
In turn, improving leg muscle power (with a plyo box) is good for things like improving vertical jump performance and improving running speed.
Additionally, plyo boxes can be good for resistance training exercises like step-ups, box squats, Bulgarian split squats, decline pushups, feet-elevated pike pushups, etc. that can help you grow and strengthen your muscles.
Whether a plyo box is worth it to you ultimately depends on things like your training goals, budget, personal preferences, the state of your knees and the rest of your body, your workout space, etc.