Plyometric exercises are an incredibly beneficial group of movements for improving overall athleticism, with particular emphasis on explosive strength and power. They are, in effect, high impact exercises that focus on what is called the ‘stretch reflex’ of your muscles – the stretch and shortening of each muscle during any given period of work.
The stretch portion is the one in which your muscles lengthen. The shortening portion is that in which your muscles contract. Put simply, we are looking at movements akin to, and including, jumping. Your muscles stretch as you jump, shorten as you land, and stabilise you throughout.
This is what we are looking for from a plyometric exercise.
Plyometric boxes, known as ‘plyo boxes’ by gym bros the world over, are fantastic tools in facilitating plyometric training, especially with regards static jumps. They are tailor made for jumping onto safely, yet in a challenging way, which will help you to zero in on the stretch-shortening cycle you’re looking to train and manipulate. In this article we shall be talking you through 8 of the best plyo boxes your money can buy – and having tested each of these boxes out we feel we can deliver our verdict with some authority.
Plyo boxes come in a variety of styles and sizes, each with their own unique benefits, though they all share the same few factors in common – they are lightweight, easy to move around, and great to jump onto! They are also commonly referred to as jump boxes.
Different Types Of Plyo Boxes Explained
Some of the more common types of plyo box include:
Standard Wood Plyo Boxes
This is a classic, stable, hardy and incredibly easy to use type of box. Standard wooden boxes are perhaps best for cardio, as the lack of bounce means that you can minimise time between reps. Simply land, jump off or climb down and begin again. You can blast through a high number of reps in a very short space of time.
They are perhaps not the best for explosive training, however, as you really want to make sure that the jump is an easy, doable one. You don’t want to fail on one or you could get yourself hurt. High rep, low explosive work is the way to go. If this is what you’re after, a wooden plyo box is probably best for you.
Soft Plyo Boxes
Soft plyo boxes, usually made from padded leather, rubber or pleather, are perfect for beginners and those looking to really challenge their explosive power whilst staying safe. You’ll avoid the bloody shins inherent to wooden boxes if you fail a rep, giving you far more scope to push yourself past your limits.
They are also very absorptive. This makes them poor for high rep work, as the end of each rep can be a little slow. However, as above, they are great for low rep, low intensity, high power jumps. They are also good for those looking to take care of their joints in the long run.
3-in-1 Plyo Boxes
3-in-1 plyo boxes are the most versatile. They were popularised in large part by CrossFit, whose standards are 20 inch boxes for women and 24 inches for men. Large plyo boxes are usually 20 x 24 x 30 inches, meaning that they can be used to meet the needs of both standards by simply placing one on a different side. They can also be used by more advanced athletes for an extra push, as they jump the 30 inch side.
They are also great for those working with limited space or means, such as those looking to stock a home gym. Rather than have a single fixed height, or using a few different boxes, it’s all there in one. You can warm up on the 20 inch side, progress to the 24, then challenge yourself on the 30. You may find you can jump 24 but Bulgarian split squats work best at 20.
Essentially, you have options.
Typically, a 3-in-1 plyo box will come in wood or soft and padded leather, rubber or pleather, with the same inherent advantages each material offers (see above).
Stackable Plyo Boxes
You can get stackable plyo boxes in plastic, steel and wood. They are a great option for those looking for diverse use and variety in their jump heights, and for those looking to scale and progress their jumps beyond the norm. Those looking for steps can use them very easily, as can those looking to run classes with several attendees of different experience levels.
They may be a bit of a faff to use, as you need to stack and re-stack them every session, but they have great utility.
8 of the Best Plyo Boxes
The following list contains some of the best plyo boxes that money can buy, from absolute bargains to well-engineered, highly priced utility. If you buy any of them, and use them as they are meant to be used, you can expect your explosive power and lower body strength to shoot through the roof.
MYO Strength Plyometric Box
Let’s move the price point up a little with MYO Strength’s offering. The price rise is fair enough – they use a more involved, impressive material than simple plywood. They coat their box’s wood with non-slip material, which will likely save you a fair amount of shin barking over time.
MYO Strength’s Plyometric Box is also a 3-in-1 model, at the CrossFit standard 20 x 24 x 30 inches, giving all the utility that this implies. As with all 3-in-1 plyometric boxes, you will be able to get a good warm up in before challenging yourself; you will be able to push yourself to progress over time; and you will be able to perform a wider range of exercises using it, with the 20 inch edge acting more like a step than a plyo box.
The MYO Strength Plyometric Box is flatpack but easy to put together, with a few screws needed to hold each face in place. As with other plywood models, you should use wood glue along the seams for increased structural integrity. I couldn’t find any hard numbers on maximum weight load, though it seems perfectly in line with those able to take the 150 kg mark, so most users should be able to use it with confidence.
If you want a 3-in-1 wooden box with a bit of extra grip, this may be the one for you.
Body Revolution Plyo Box
There are three size options available with Body Revolution’s Plyo Box, each scaled respectively in price. The larger one will set you back just over double the price of Mirafit’s Wooden Plyo Jump Box.
However, it’s worth the price. A lot has gone into the design and manufacture – there is far more at work here than a few sheets of simple plywood nailed together. The box itself incorporates soft, high density foam for good absorption and injury prevention. This will slow you down a little, but will keep your knees, hips and ankles safe. It will likely also reduce fatigue from trauma, allowing you to put the time and effort into training your muscles without worrying about having to rest your joints.
The box is coated in non-slip, dry wipe PVC, reinforcing the safety aspect and helping to keep you on your feet.
You can buy Body Revolution’s Plyo Box in small, medium or large, and each one serves as a 3-in-1 plyo box, to give you the variety you want.
If you’re really looking to push the boat out and work on power – without wanting to worry about sticking the landing every single time or suffering – this is probably the one for you. Don’t buy if you’re going for speed, but for strength, explosivity, comfort and safety (and quality of design and execution), this gets five stars.
Physical Company 3-in-1 Soft Plyo Box
It comes with the usual CrossFit appropriate specs you would want – 20 x 24 by 30 inch faces, all made from impact absorbing foam to decrease the stress and impact on the foot, ankle, knee and hip joints.
It costs a little more than Body Revolution’s largest plyo box – actually, about fifty quid more, give or take. However, it is the perfect functional fitness tool for those just starting out. The high-density absorptive foam makes for a soft yet secure landing, with little fear of hurting yourself, and the whole thing is covered in durable, non-skid vinyl for a good amount of wear and tear resistance and extra security in your footwork.
I’m not sure that this justifies a leap in price… there is little functionally to distinguish it from Body Revolution’s cheaper products, at least in practical terms. The materials are technically better, and technically safer. If you value this – and arguably you should – then this will be the box to pick. However, it doesn’t translate into a much improved user experience, so that extra fifty quid might be better off staying in your pocket.
Escape Multiplyo Soft Box.
If you do want to spend some extra cash and get something to show for it, you should definitely consider Escape’s Multiplyo Soft Box. It’s about eight or nine times the price of the cheapest item on this list, and maybe three or four times more than the average.
But what do you get for this? How do Escape justify what seems at first glance a genuinely ludicrous price tag?
Easily, actually. I don’t know that it’s worth the five-hundred-pound plus price that they’re asking, but Escape certainly have an extraordinary product here that is worth a decent outlay.
It is incredibly well made.
As a Multiplyo, it’s a 3-in-1, with the normal 20 x 24 x 30 inch facings you would expect, making it ideal for introducing plyometric jumps into your training whilst maintaining variety and utility. It is made from soft, dense, impact absorbing foam, which means a decrease in stress and impact on the foot, ankle, knee and hip joints. There are also anti-slip landing zones on all six sides, so that you know that where you land is where you stay, no ifs or buts.
This security expands outwards from your own impact, however. The non-slip surfaces mean that the box won’t move around as you train, no matter how much abuse you throw at it. The heat-welding system they have in places means that the outer covering won’t crease or come loose from the main structure. For anybody serious about plyometrics, this is a great boon. For beginners wanting to remain stable as they learn the ropes, this is equally as valuable.
It also weighs a reassuring 25 kg. This will make it hard to move around – it may be more of a static piece of kit than plyo boxes typically are – but you will be grateful of this as you rack up the reps.
The BTEX material covering is also very easy to clean and easy to keep hygienic, the value of which has been very much underlined in recent months.
If you’ve got the money to burn, Escape’s Mulitplyo Soft Box is a good investment. It will use up a lot of money without being a waste of money. It is excessive, especially for the average user, and you will likely get as much utility from a cheaper model. But it more than earns its keep. It’s a triumph of fitness equipment design and execution.
Mirafit 3-in-1 Wooden Plyo Jump Box
As a 3-in-1 model, Mirafit’s Wooden Plyo Jump Box has three heights to it – 24, 20 and 16 inches. This makes it perfect for those of you looking to use it for different intensities or at different ability levels over time.
The wood itself is strong, 18mm thick plywood made with an internal reinforcement structure. This combines to give it a thoroughly convincing maximum user weight of 150 kg. Anybody who weighs more than this should likely be steering clear of plyometric exercises anyway, for the sake of their joints, so it is more than sturdy enough for most athletes to develop their strength and power on.
The box comes flatpack, though it is pretty easy to assemble, with clear instructions. I would suggest using wood glue along the joins as you screw each face into place. You’ll get a cleaner final product and the box as a whole will be stronger for it – this will be pretty much necessary for it to reach the 150 kg max user potential. Handle cut outs make it easy to move around with minimal effort (or splinters!)
Mirafit’s Wooden Plyo Jump Box is also amongst our more reasonably priced offerings, at a fair amount shy of a hundred pounds.
It’s sturdy, it’s easy to put together, and it gives you great options. You don’t want to slip up on it, or your shins are in for a world of hurt, but the responsiveness of the hard wooden faces is fantastic. It will be perfect for high rep, HIIT and circuit training.
Mirafit 3-in-1 Soft Plyo Jump Box
You get everything normal from a 3-in-1 with this one – 30 x 24 x 20 inch facings, high density foam interior for shock absorption and a little give, and durable black PVC cover that is pretty easy to wipe down after use.
Thus, you will be able to get a very good workout from it, without too much speed but with the ability to really push yourself whilst keeping your ankles, knees, hips and feet in good health, relatively pain free (and without cracking your shins when you miss a rep).
Other than this, it’s a pretty good looking model, with bold orange lettering on the matt black backing keeping it nicely on brand.
There isn’t too much else to say about the Mirafit 3-in-1 soft plyo jump box. It’s a great mid-tier option – functional, usable, safe, with great utility, mid-priced to be worth saving up for without having to break the bank. If you want a solid, safe, reliable option that will look good in your home gym, this is the one for you.
Jac and Mok Wooden Jumping Box
This is the item I would peg for anyone looking to get a bit of a bargain. The Jac and Mok Wooden Jumping Box is only around a tenner more than the Boqua Plyometric Exercise Platform (shown below), yet it offers so much more. It is a 3-in-1 box with 20 x 18 x 16 inch facings, is made from sturdy plywood to give you a solid landing, and it looks lovely.
As with other plywood models, the Jac and Mok Wooden Jumping Box comes flat pack for self-assembly, thought the pre-drilled holes make this pretty straight forward.
The edges are where the magic happens, though. They are repeat sanded to make them rounded. Half the issue with plywood boxes is that their sharp, hard corners can hurt you when you mis-judge a jump. That is illuminated here: your risk of injury is very much reduced.
If you want change from a hundred, but still want a decent plyo box with which to train, consider the Jac and Mok Wooden Jumping Box.
BoQua Plyometric Exercise Platform
I’m going to come out the gate telling you that I don’t really like the Boqua Plyometric Exercise Platform. I think it’s ugly, poorly designed and gives little utility. There is no option to change up the height and its unique, tapered design – whilst offering a little more stability than you might expect – means that you can’t push it flush to a wall or even perform Bulgarian split squats with any great deal of comfort.
However, I thoroughly respect that the Boqua Plyometric Exercise Platform has its place. It is super cheap, at less than half the average price (closer to a third, in fact) of the items on this list. It is also, as mentioned above, very stable, thanks to the fact that it has a wider base than it does platform, forming something of a trapezium.
It gets the job done at a fraction of the price, and will give you a solid, stable enough landing. It has a steel structure that makes it look like scaffolding or a step ladder, paired with a solid rubber, non-slip mat to prevent slipping, which will give you an industrial feel and a fair degree of solidity.
Though each box is unchangeable, there are a range of sizes available. You can opt for a 12, 18 or 24 inch jump (non-standard, so I’m not sure why they picked these particular heights), and you can stack the larger ones on top of the smaller ones to save space.
This represents a bit of a false economy. If you want a triple height jump, you will have to buy three. For that price, you may as well buy any of the mid-range 3-in-1 products on this list and be done with it. However, if you’re just starting out and want something that will set you back mere pocket change whilst giving you something solid and workable to train with, this will fit your criteria nicely.
Jump Box FAQs
The most common question we get on plyo jump boxes is far and away the one we have shown below:
What Height Plyo Box Should I Buy?
Plyo boxes are simple, though not necessarily always easy, to use. This is because, at heart, they are incredibly simple pieces of equipment. You simply place one on the ground, stand about 6-12 inches before it with your feet firmly planted at hip width distance, and jump. You land on it with both feet at the same time, weight on the balls of the feet, with your knees slightly bent to absorb the impact. You can also perform other exercises on a plyo box, notably any that require a raised portion of your body, like Bulgarian split squats and step ups.
Therefore, in choosing box height, keep it simple. You want one that is tall enough to challenge you. You shouldn’t be able to easily jump on top of it, but rather should only just be able to clear it and stick the landing. It should also be about the right height for you to step up onto comfortably, but with an almost full stretch through the glutes, and to be able to rest one foot on during your Bulgarian split squats.
Realistically, trial and error will be the best way to determine this. What feels right for you is what will generally work for you. There is no perfect ratio of leg length to box height or anything like that – at least, not one that easily translates into real world training.
Therefore, unless you already know the height you need and have experience with plyo boxes, I would always begin with a 3-in-1. I favour them anyway for the versatility they offer – you can adjust up or down based on energy levels, fatigue, rep ranges and so forth, and can adjust the depth of split squats and step ups to suit your requirements on any given day. You can also scale them based on your own progression, which is perfect for beginners – you can progressively raise the height over a period of weeks as your body adapts and grows more efficient.
Try a cheaper 3-in-1, if in doubt. Work out what height works best for you and then, when you’re a little more experienced, invest in a better-quality fixed height box.