First off, do you know what Plyometrics is? Plyometric exercises involve quick explosive movements that are designed to increase speed and power. In simple terms they involve a jumping movement like skipping, jumping, lunges, jump squats and clap push ups. This is where plyo boxes come in!
A plyometric exercise has three phases to it. The first is a rapid muscle lengthening movement called the eccentric phase, then there is the second phase which is a short resting period called the amortization phase followed by an explosive movement called the concentric phase. The point of plyometric exercise is to decrease the amount of time between the eccentric and concentric movements.
What are the Benefits?
Plyometrics improves the performance of your muscles, tendons and nerves so that essentially you will run faster, jump higher etc. For muscles it will specifically strengthen and increase the number of fast twitch fibres in your muscles, the stronger the fast twitch fibre the faster the muscle contraction. It will also strengthen your tendons and boost their elasticity.
Plyo Boxes or Platforms
For the jumping exercises often involved in plyometrics a well constructed platform can be essential. When buying a platform look for a sturdy construction which supports you, non slip surfaces and rubber feet if you need stability.
You can also purchase a plyometric box made from foam. These can be great for durability and stability but, as with all plyo boxes, do ensure you have a large enough landing area.
Many of the foam designed boxes are covered with a non skid vinyl and one of the benefits of foam is that it absorbs some of the impact during a landing. This is worth considering as one of the downsides of this type of training is the stress to your feet, ankles, knees and hips from jump training.
When you are starting out do consider a stackable box system as this allows you to start low and go higher. The stackable systems allow you to start as low as 8” and then build up to 30”. You may also want to consider wood over metal as it can be more forgiving on your shins should you miss a jump.
Plyometrics and Injury
Plyometrics has well documented sports benefits but it also has a high injury rate. These injuries are often caused by bad landing surfaces, jumping from too high a platform or someone simply not being fit enough for the exercises they are doing.
Our advice would be to check that you are fit first and to enlist the help of a personal trainer. For home use, a soft plyo box is also recommended for most users.