6 Bench or Plyo Box Exercises

Jumping for Power and Strength

Plyo box exercises. Laura Williams

Adding plyometric exercises to your workout routine can help you enhance your power and strength. And the good news is, you don't have to buy a plyo box to perform many plyometric moves. For instance, you can do box jumps using a sturdy park bench or an aerobic step.

Perform the following six movements, starting with a box or bench that's a height you feel comfortable with. It's a good idea to start with an 8" to 12" step, gradually working your way up to a higher box.

Step Ups

Step ups. Laura Williams

Stand behind a bench, step, or box, your feet hip-distance apart, your knees slightly bent. Step your right foot up onto the center of the box and press yourself up to standing. Reverse the movement, stepping carefully off the box behind you. Repeat on the opposite side, stepping up with your left foot. Continue alternating back and forth for 30 to 50 repetitions on each side. Rest, then repeat two to three more times.

Lateral Step Overs

Lateral step overs. Laura Williams

Work your lower body laterally, engaging your quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes, abductors, and adductors with the lateral step overs. Stand to the left of the bench, box, or step. Place your right foot firmly on the box, press through your foot and stand up, lifting your left foot onto the box.  Step carefully down on the opposite side of the box, leading with your right foot and following with your left. Be sure to keep your knees and hips slightly bent as you step off the box to help absorb the impact.

Reverse the movement and step back up onto the box, this time leading with your left foot. Continue stepping up and over the box continuously for 20 to 30 repetitions per side. Rest and repeat one more set.


Negatives. Laura Williams

Negatives are actually one of the more advanced plyometric movements because of the high level of impact you're imparting on your body. It's important that you have a strong lower body before attempting, and that you know how to appropriately land a jump. Essentially, you must land on the balls of your feet, your feet approximately hip-distance apart, with your knees and hips bent to help absorb the impact before sinking down onto your heels. You want to avoid allowing your knees to cave inward or outward - making sure they track in line with your toes without allowing them to extend past your toes.

Perform negatives by standing on top of the box or bench. Start on a low box or bench if you've never done them before. Hop forward, off the box, focusing on landing the jump correctly. You don't want to jump up off the box - you're not trying to add more height to the exercise; rather, you're jumping away from the box. Perform eight to 10 repetitions. Rest, then repeat.

Box Jumps

Box jumps. Laura Williams

Box jumps are exactly what they sound like - you're jumping up onto a box. This requires explosive power and strength. If you're new to plyometrics, start with a low box or bench and work your way up.

Stand behind a box or bench, your feet hip-distance apart, your knees and hips slightly bent. Swing your arms behind you as you bend your knees and hips further, "loading the spring." In an explosive movement, swing your arms forward as you jump up into the air, landing on the center of the box. Land with your knees and hips slightly bent, your feet about hip-distance apart, then press yourself to standing. Step carefully off the bench. Perform eight to 15 repetitions. Rest, then repeat two more sets.

Single Leg Explosions

Single leg explosions. Laura Williams

Single leg explosions enhance power and strength unilaterally.

Stand to the left side and slightly behind the box, bench, or step. Place the ball of your right foot on the center of the box. Extend your right arm behind you and bend your left arm at the elbow, bringing your left hand up toward your face. In one powerful movement, swing your right arm forward and your left arm backward as you press firmly through the ball of your right foot, exploding yourself up into the air as you extend your right leg and pull your left knee up toward your chest. Reverse the movement while in the air and land carefully as you started. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions on one side before switching to the opposite leg. Perform two sets.

Lateral Box Jumps

Lateral box jumps. Laura Williams

Work on your power, strength and coordination by performing lateral box jumps. Lateral box jumps are performed exactly like standard box jumps, but instead of jumping forward onto the box, you're jumping sideways onto the box.

Stand to the left of the plyo box or bench, your feet hip-distance apart. Bend your knees and hips, swinging your arms backward. Explode up and to the right as you swing your arms forward, aiming to land on the center of the box, your knees and hips slightly bent. Stand up fully, then step down carefully from the box. Perform eight to 10 lateral jumps on one side of the box before switching sides. Start with one set, and work your way up to two.

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