Choosing the Best Plyo Box Sizes

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I had a trampoline when I was a kid. So I’m biased. I love jumping.

In fact, the only reason I stopped using it when I was about 17 was I started bottoming out. I’d bump the ground when I did a hard enough back bounce. It didn’t occur to me at the time that I could dig out 12″ of the sand under it and keep jumping.

Anyway, plyo boxes are the next best thing. They’re a staple piece of equipment in Crossfit gyms and sports training facilities that do plyometric training. 

Be careful not to get too tall of a plyo box to start off with. You want to learn good form, and you’ll sacrifice your form and/or cause injury if you start off with too much effort to jump up onto a tall plyo box without warming up, learning the correct movement including arm swing, and conditioning yourself for the explosive movement. So take it easy to begin with and get a size that you can do a lot of warmup jumps with to work on your conditioning and dial in your form.

Box jumping is often done as a conditioning exercise, so when doing it that way you can use a shorter box and see get lots of benefit from it. You will be able to continue your workout with a shorter box when you would have to stop with a taller box because you’re getting too tired and the big jump is starting to get too dangerous. The most common injury is missing the top, clipping your toe, and slamming into the top edge of the box with your shin, leaving a nasty gash or at least a bruise or painful shin that will leave you adverse to doing the exercise again for a while. But our steel plyo boxes are all made with a layer of rubber on top, so you really won’t drag your shin across it during a failure. It may still hurt, however.

Max attempts for height are a different deal, and you will be working up to that slowly enough that you’ll utilize the shorter plyo boxes plenty, so you don’t have to worry about that if you’re reading this article.

Most men can start with a 20″ box. 

Women can start with a 16″ box.

If you’re shorter than average, out of shape, or heavy, don’t feel bad about starting with a shorter one.

Crossfit WODs prescribe 24″ or 30″ heights as a standard height for doing then “as rx’d”. 

Beyond just doing workouts, if you want to improve your jump height, you’ll want to work up to heights by doing a ton of reps at lower heights until you get used to it and get a feel for when you just can’t do another rep safely. It’s much like warming up with steadily higher weights when doing heavy squats. With each workout you have to start low and get your muscles primed for the big jumps.

What Type to Get

In the past your only choice was a fixed height plyo box. Now you have a few options.

Steel Plyo Boxes

rogue steel plyo boxes

Rogue has sizes up to 42″ high

Pros Cons

  • Large Height Range
  • Rubber Feet for Stability
  • Need a Box for Each Height

For training environments with several athletes of different capabilities, steel plyo boxes can still make the most sense, because you can stack a lot of them together for storage and stick them in a corner.

You can get them from Rogue, or if you don’t need higher than 24″ then you can get the j/fit steel plyo boxes on Amazon for a lower price.

3-in-1 Wood Boxes

rogue wood plyo cube

Pros Cons

  • Easy to Adjust
  • Inexpensive
  • Made in the USA
  • Edges are Brutal on Shins
  • Less Stable at 30″ Height
  • Only a 10″ Height Range
  • Rubber Floor Required

For just yourself or a limited number of athletes you can get wood plyo boxes that can be flipped around on any side, and each side is a different length. Most commonly they’re in 20″ x 24″ x 30″. It’s tough to find anything bigger than that.

A 20″-30″ range isn’t huge. These boxes are mainly meant for high rep WODs, not for challenging your jump height.

The other issue might be that they need to be used on rubber flooring. Wood slides too easily on a concrete, wood or pergo floor.

So for example a box may come in dimensions of 20″ x 24″ x 30″, and you flip it over to do any of those heights. A smaller version is available where you can do 16″, 18″ or 20″. We actually recommend the larger box because the smaller one isn’t quite as stable when you tip it up to be 20″ tall (and only 16″ wide). Some other wooden plyo box are available that are stackable, so you can start off as low as 8″ and go up to a recommended 32″ safely.

Rogue rounds off the edges to help reduce bloody shins when you miss a jump. But if you make or get a hold of another brand with sharp edges, just make sure to round off the edges with a wood file. It’s well worth your time.

Any taller than 30″ and you’ll need to see about buying a different type of box.

You can get it from Rogue. Rep Fitness is another trusted brand, and you might save a little with free shipping on theirs from Amazon.

Soft Plyo Cubes

Rogue plyo cube

Pros Cons

  • Easy to Adjust
  • Injury-Free
  • Less Stable at Tallest Height
  • Only a 10″ Height Range

These are meant to be much like wood plyo cubes, but they save your shins when you miss a jump. The extra security helps you go for those max jumps without much fear. The foam is surprisingly stable and has no weight limit.

Rogue sells one, and Amazon has one by CFF that has good reviews.

Soft Stackable Plyo Boxes

Rogue stackable foam boxes

Pros Cons

  • Easy to Adjust
  • Injury-Free
  • Wide and Stable
  • Expensive

The latest thing to be widely available a few years back is stackable soft plyo boxes. These are my favorite type. They are stackable boxes of varying heights and velcro strips, and you can stack them up to any height. Like the soft plyo cubes, the soft but firm texture adds a huge dimension of safety to what is ordinarily a risk of injury when you miss a jump and hit your shin.

The best thing to do is get one of each height for a complete set you can adjust to any height. If you find you can jump higher than you thought, you can always get one more box later.

Rogue sells them in several heights.

The problem in my mind with Rogue’s set is their smallest height is 6″. I’d rather go up in 3″ increments. Perform Better specializes in things like plyo boxes, and I recommend you check theirs out.

Other Solutions

People have also done some interesting things like stacked bumper plates up on a steel pole of the right height so that they don’t move, and the bumpers are a bit more of a forgiving edge if you fail the jump. This may require at least one person to hold the precarious pile steady.

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