The plyo boxes are out and it’s easy to automatically assume box jumps, but did you know these boxes are useful for so much more? From movement variations and modifications to whole body exercises, here are our six favorite plyo box exercises so that you can spice things up.
6 Plyo Box Exercises to Add to Your Next WOD
1. Dumbbell Box Step-Ups or -Overs
We saw dumbbell step-overs in the 2018 CrossFit Regionals and step-ups in the 2019 CrossFit Open. We’ve all learned they’re definitely easier said than done. Whether one dumbbell in each hand or one heavier dumbbell on the shoulder, you’ll definitely get the heart rate up and work your glutes, quads, and hamstrings.
Using the lower or medium height, step up onto the box. For a dumbbell step-up, ensure both feet are planted on the box and knees extended for the rep to count. Step back down and repeat.
For the dumbbell step-over, step-up with one leg and step the other up to the opposite corner, and step back down the other side. It’s imperative to use good form, ensure you control the reps, your torso remains upright in step-ups, and your knee doesn’t angle past your toes one the way up.
2. Handstand Push-Up Variation
Before you get upside down on the wall, you need to ensure you have shoulders of steel, or at least some strength! These will help you get there. To make it more comfortable and reduce the range of motion, you can use a soft ab-mat under your head.
Place your feet on the edge of the plyo box and walk your hands toward the box so that your torso is as vertical as possible. With your head neutral, look forward to the box. Once in this position, lower down toward your ab-mat, moving your head slightly forward and making a tripod with your hands and head.
Touch your head to the floor and push back up. Once you get useD to the movement, see if you can do sets of FIVE, then 10, and then 15. You’ll be on the wall in no time. If this variation is too tough, begin with your knees on the box.
3. Box Dips
This is a great triceps workout with variations dependent on your level. Using the lower height and with your back facing the plyo box, place your hands on the box, fingers facing forward, hands slightly wider than shoulders. Slowly bend your elbows toward the box, engaging your triceps and lowering toward the ground.
Keep your back close to the box to ensure you utilize your triceps. Straightening your legs will make this more challenging.
For a unique variation, sometimes called a Russian dip, that will help you get used to muscle-ups, take two plyo boxes on the taller heights and place them slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Place your hands on either box, toes slightly behind the body, shoulders over hips over knees. Using your feet slightly to assist, lower down to a full comfortable depth. To make it more challenging lessen the amount your feet assist.
4. Push-Ups – Decline or Incline
These are two variations, one that will help you get to full body push-ups and another that will build further strength.
Incline push-ups take some pressure off the shoulders and triceps and are perfect if you’re not quite there with full-body floor push-ups. Place your hands on the box where comfortable, approximately shoulder-width apart. Push down, keeping your midline engaged until your chest reaches the box, and push back up. Start with whichever box height you are comfortable with and build your way down. You can add a tempo to challenge yourself.
Decline push-ups, on the other hand, will put more weight on the shoulders and chest, making them a good challenge. Place your feet onto the box and walk out until you are in a push-up position. Lower down until your chest touches and push back up. Add a tempo to vary things up.
5. Bulgarian Split Squats
Out of all the plyo box exercises on this list, this one might be the spiciest.
This is the perfect movement to help with leg muscle imbalances. It targets your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Facing away from the box, place one foot on top of the box, and step your other foot forward, ensuring you maintain hip-width distance between your feet. The ideal position is when you feel relatively stable and can lower to 90 degrees with your front knee.
To do so you, engage your glutes and lower your hips toward the ground. The majority of the weight should feel like it’s in your front foot. Keep lowering until your back knee reaches as close to the ground as possible, with reaching the ground the goal. Keep your torso upright and reverse the move, ascending to the top. Practice the movement without weight until you’re comfortable, then add kettlebells or dumbbells into each hand, as well as a tempo. Prepare for your booty to burn!
6. Pistol Squat Progressions
Struggling with pistol squats? This progression is ideal to get them in no time and will assist in building mobility as well as strength. Stand on the long side of the box with your foot on the edge, arch facing inward so your outside foot is floating off to the side. Utilizing the same motion as a full pistol, extend your arms forward, bending the knee of your inside leg toward 90 degrees until the outside foot just touches the floor.
Ensure you only gently tap the outside foot on the floor to get the most out of the exercise. Adjusting the height of the plyo box will make the movement more challenging.
Will you try any of these six plyo box exercises in your next workout? Let us know which one’s your favorite in the comments below!