5 Moves To Elevate Your Box Workout Routine
Having a diverse array of workout equipment at your fingertips is the dream, but sometimes, you may want to keep your fitness routine simple. Whether you’re working in those reps between other commitments, looking to get the most out of a small space, or trying to find your flow after a long day, returning to a minimalistic routine can be key.
But how do you get back to the basics without compromising on effectiveness? Enter the foam plyo box—an incredibly versatile piece of home workout equipment that’s perfect for a full body workout from head to toe.
Whether you’re just getting started or seeking to move beyond the usual box jump workout, read on to learn effective box exercises targeting the lower body, core, and upper body.
#1 Step Up Your Game
The front box step up is a must-have move in your routine, ideal for a warm up, cool down, or inclusion in your HIIT circuit. When performing this move, remember to go slow and feel the burn. You’ll activate your muscles more by controlling the momentum and the downward motion.1
Follow these steps to make the most of the step up:2
- Step 1 – Start with both feet on the ground in front of the box and stand tall throughout the exercise.
- Step 2 – Step one foot onto the top of the box, placing your weight into the heel of that foot.
- Step 3 – Ground into the heel on the box and straighten your leg, then bring the other foot onto the box.
- Step 4 – Lower the second foot slowly to the ground—show gravity who’s boss—controlling the descent by squeezing your glutes and leaning slightly forward through the torso.
The front box step up works the following areas of the body:3
- The core and the glutes, large muscle groups essential to overall strength and stability
- The hips, a crucial foundation in running and jumping injury-free4
- The thighs, an important power source in your lifting routine
There’s no hard and fast rule for the number of box step ups to perform. Start with ten reps per leg for a total of twenty reps.5 Complete three to five sets, increasing or decreasing the reps depending on your needs.
#2 Take It to the Side
Beyond just the front-to-back step, side movements are also important to include in your box workout arsenal. Lateral step ups, a directional variation on the original box step up, targets some of the same areas of the body—the core, hips, and glutes—but with a specialized focus on the following areas:6
- Obliques – When you twist from side to side or bend over to pick up a weight, you’re using your obliques, the muscles located along the side of your abdominal wall.7 Strengthening your obliques is important for complex rotational movements, whether on the playing field or in your daily life.
- Transverse abdominus – Strengthen this muscle deep in the core for greater stability and protection from injury.8 With lateral step ups, you’re activating your transverse abdominus in different ways, an essential part of well-rounded muscle development.
- Knee stability – Hone the rotational strength of your knees with this side-to-side movement.9 Whether you’re running laps, playing a tennis match, or dribbling on the basketball court, greater knee strength allows you to perform repetitive movements, jumps, and sudden stops and starts with confidence.
To perform the lateral box step up, follow these steps:10
- Step 1 – Begin by standing on one side of the box, either the left or the right leg.
- Step 2 – Step the foot closest to the box on top.
- Step 3 – Push in with your heel and straighten your leg, lifting your body weight onto the box and placing your second foot next to the first.
- Step 4 – Step down slowly with your outer foot, activating your core and glutes to maintain an upright posture.
- Step 5 – Similar to the original box step ups, perform ten slow reps on each side, adjusting the number to suit your needs.
#3 Heat Things Up with a Hop-Over
For a more intense variation of the original step ups, incorporate the jump-over into your plyo box workout routine, an explosive motion that can increase the power and efficiency of your jumps.11 So, how to do box jumps with the added hop-over step?
To perform a box jump-over, follow these steps:12
- Step 1 – Begin by facing the box with both feet on the ground. Bend your left and right knee into a quarter squat, keeping your back straight, to prepare for the jump. Bring your arms behind you for added momentum.
- Step 2 – Swing your arms forward as you explode out of the squat and onto the box. Land on the box as softly as you can with your knees slightly bent to absorb the force. Avoid straining your back by maintaining a stable torso and spine.13
- Step 3 – To finish the movement, jump down on the other side of the box, landing with both feet on the ground. Keep your knees slightly bent. If you’re just starting out with jump-overs, consider stepping down to the other side while adjusting to the motion. Or if you’re up for a challenge, jump over without landing on the box at all!
When performing box jump-overs, you’ll start to find a continuous rhythm as you become more comfortable jumping from one side to the next. Rather than counting reps, time yourself. Start with sets of thirty seconds to one minute and increase the amount of time as you build endurance.
While there are many box jump benefits including the activation of your core, they focus on the lower body, specifically the following muscle groups:14
What makes jump-overs so special isn’t just the muscles they target but how they work those muscles. These plyo box exercises can train you to activate all your muscles at once for greater speed and efficiency of movement.15 Whether you’re aiming for quick starts to your sprints, a farther dive for the ball, or greater power in your deadlift, box jump-overs can help you develop that much-needed explosive strength.
#4 Embrace the Angle
If you’re still missing your daily dose of intensity, hit the upper body and core with a declining mountain climber—you’re sure to break a sweat with this box workout.
To perform this variation on the traditional mountain climber exercise, try the following:16
- Step 1 – Assume a shoulder plank position with your feet on the box. Keep your shoulders directly over your hands.
- Step 2 – Release your right foot, pulling your right knee to your chest. Maintain the engagement in your core.
- Step 3 – Return your right leg to its starting position and perform the same motion with your left leg.
- Step 4 – Alternate between the two legs continuously.
With mountain climbers, be sure to keep a continuous pace. The required endurance is what makes this exercise burn, an added cardio challenge while you’re holding a strength-building position.17 So, alternate your legs as quickly as you can without sacrificing control and proper form.
The number of reps and sets to perform depends on your comfort level with the exercise.
Consider the following example routines:
- Just starting out – If you’re new to mountain climbers, perform fifteen reps on each side for a total of thirty mountain climbers. Repeat three to five times with a ten-second break in between.18 Your priority at this level is maintaining proper form and a steady pace.
- Gaining confidence – Time yourself as you become familiar with the exercise. Perform as many mountain climbers as you can in varying intervals (between thirty seconds and two minutes). Repeat three to five times with a thirty-second break in between.
- Challenging yourself – For those mountain climber experts out there, customize the exercise depending on your needs. Alternate between short bursts of maximum effort in true HIIT-style and longer stretches of steady motion to build endurance.
#5 Level Up Your Push-Up Game
To really hone in on upper body strength, add a decline to your push-ups. While this move works the full body, using the core and the legs for stability, the position and angle specifically target the following areas:19
Form is key when performing decline push-ups. Consider these steps for power-packed push-ups:20
- Step 1 – Start in a plank position with your shoulders directly over your wrists. Put your feet on the plyo box.
- Step 2 – Maintain a straight line throughout your body as you bend your elbows and bring your chest to the ground.
- Step 3 – Stop when your elbows are in line with your rib cage and push up to return to the starting position.
While it’s tempting to crank out your normal number of push-ups, remember that working on a decline is more strenuous. When you’re first starting out, focus on doing a single set of ten to twenty push-ups with correct form.21 Over time, you can increase the number of reps you do and cycle through three to five sets.
Tru Grit: Versatile, Durable Workout Equipment that Won’t Quit
Looking for the perfect box to shape up our routine? Try our 3-in-1 Plyo Box, featuring a variety of height options and crafted from high-quality plywood. Take advantage of the strong, sturdy foundation provided by interlocking joints—our box is there for you, no matter the workout.
We know you take your fitness routine seriously, and at Tru Grit, our equipment doesn’t quit either. Whether you’re looking for high-performance weightlifting barbells and bumper weight plates, a standout kettlebell set, or a heavy duty 3x3 power rack, we’ve got all your fitness needs covered.
Healthline. 6 Plyo Box Moves to Tone Your Entire Body. https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/plyo-box-exercises
Outdoor Fitness Society. Box Step Ups Workouts to Enhance Endurance and Leg Strength. https://outdoorfitnesssociety.com/workouts/box-step-ups-workouts/
Slo Motion Shoes. The Importance of Hip Strength. https://slomotionshoes.com/the-importance-of-hip-strength/#:~:text=Benefits%20of%20hip%20strengthening&text=Hips%20provide%20the%20most%20incredible,pelvis%20level%20as%20you%20run.
Adam Kemp Fitness. Lateral Step Ups Exercise – What Muscles Do Lateral Step Ups Work? https://www.adamkempfitness.com/lateral-step-ups/
Everyday Health. The 8 Best Exercises for Stronger Obliques. https://www.everydayhealth.com/fitness/the-best-exercises-for-stronger-obliques/
Healthline. How to Engage the Transversus Abdominis, and Why It's Important. https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/transverse-abdominal-exercises
Barbend. The 8 Best Plyo Box Exercises For Conditioning And Strength Gains. https://barbend.com/best-plyo-box-exercises/
My Fitness Pal. 9 Stepup Variations for Leg Strength and Power. https://blog.myfitnesspal.com/9-stepup-variations-for-leg-strength-and-power/
BoxRox. How to Perfect Your Technique for Box Jumps. https://www.boxrox.com/how-to-perfect-your-technique-for-box-jumps/
Verywell Fit. How to Do Box Jumps. https://www.verywellfit.com/how-to-do-box-jumps-4588131
Women’s Health. Decline Mountain Climber. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/a20701154/decline-mountain-climber/
Self. Mountain Climbers Exercise Alternatives: 7 Moves to Try Instead. https://www.self.com/story/exercises-to-try-if-you-hate-mountain-climbers
Women’s Health. How To Do Mountain Climbers The Right Way. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/a28713948/how-to-do-mountain-climbers/
Verywell Fit. How to Do Decline Push-Ups: Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes. https://www.verywellfit.com/decline-push-ups-3120037
Healthline. The Decline Pushup. https://www.healthline.com/health/decline-push-up