Whether it is a hobby or a bigger part of your life, anyone who is involved with the fitness industry can tell you that it isn’t a cheap pastime to follow. Whether it be a gym membership, supplements, or the latest piece of “must have” fitness kit, there is always someone trying to sell you something.
An item that perfectly fits this description is a plyo box. While it is undoubtedly an item that can offer a number of benefits, it is often rather expensive, especially given how basic its design is. However, what if there was a way for you to get your own plyo box and not have to pay for it?
Don’t worry, I’m not saying go out and steal one. Rather, I am saying have you thought about saving money and still getting in shape by creating your own DIY plyo box? As I mentioned above, a plyo box has a very basic design, and there is no reason you can’t build your own with a little know how.
If that sounds like a good idea, then this is the article for you. We are going to provide a detailed guide, complete with easy to follow steps, to ensure that even people with no technical experience can create their own DIY plyo box and start enjoying all of the fitness benefits that it can offer.
What Is A Plyo Box?
A plyo box is a bit of fitness kit that is primarily designed for use in plyometric exercises, such as box jumps. However, it can also be used for stretches and various calisthenic exercises. They are usually made from either wood, plastic, or high density foam, but can technically be made from anything.
Why Should You Build A DIY Plyo Box?
The main benefit of building your own DIY plyo box is to save money. While it is a very basic piece of equipment, as often happens with fitness equipment, commercial plyo boxes usually cost far more money than they are worth, especially if it is made by a well-known fitness brand.
Another reason to build your own plyo box is to make sure it has the exact measurements you want.
As commercial plyo boxes are mass produced for a wide audience, they only come in a small range of different sizes. By building your own from scratch, it gives you the opportunity to have a piece of equipment that is perfectly designed to function in line with your own body, wants, and needs.
A final reason to build your own plyo box is that you can completely customise it to your own taste. With the ability to finish and design it any way you see fit, you can create a plyo box that perfectly represents your personality, which is ideal if you are creating your own home gym setup to train in.
Plyo Box Dimensions
A plyo box can be built in virtually any dimensions that you want, which is one of the main selling points of making your own. You should consider things like your height, weight, the exercises you plan to do on it, and the location in which you will use it, before you begin designing or making it.
If you intend to follow our guide to the letter, we are going for the standard 20 x 24 x 30 inch (50.8 x 61 x 76.2 cm) size, which is common for a plyo box. This will allow most people to do the majority of exercises on it to a suitably challenging level.
Materials & Tools Needed
Once you have settled on the size and design of your DIY plyo box, the first thing you need to do is obtain all of the tools and materials required to make it.
It is important to get everything together at the outset, as it not only saves you time but also helps you to make sure all of the items are the correct size and can be used together, while stopping anything from getting lost or damaged while you are making multiple trips to the hardware store.
An often overlooked aspect of building something like this is ensuring that you have the appropriate tools to make sure your practical work can actually follow the dimensions you have laid out.
Make sure you have a large ruler to help you determine where to cut, a pencil to mark it down, an eraser in case you make any mistakes, and a level, to confirm that all of your markings are indeed straight and can actually be used.
Plywood will be used to make the sides and top of the plyo box and is what gives it its core structure. You need to make sure you get enough to cover the dimensions of the box you intend to build, and it may even be wise to purchase a little extra, so you have some spare in case you make any mistakes.
The plywood you choose also needs to be thick enough to ensure your plyo box can hold your weight. We would recommend three quarter inch plywood in most instances, as this will be strong enough to support the weight of the vast majority of people.
We will use screws to hold the structure of our plyo box together, as they are very strong and less likely break or come loose, which are issues faced when using things like nails or glue. We would suggest using 8 gauge, 2.5 inch screws, as these will provide enough support, without being overkill.
You can use either self-tapping or regular screws, but you must make sure they are suitable to be used on wood, otherwise they could end up damaging your plywood.
Screwdriver & Drill
Everyone will need a screwdriver to fasten their screws into place. An electric screwdriver will get the job done faster, but a manual one will be just fine too. Just make sure it fits the head on whichever size screw you decide to use.
If you don’t purchase self-tapping screws, you will also need a drill to make the holes they go in. Again, an electric drill is ideal, but a manual one will suffice as well. You can even get tools that function as both an electric screwdriver and drill, which will save you time and buying multiple tools.
If using a drill, you will also need two drill heads. One will need to be just marginally smaller than the screws you are using, to make a whole that it fits in while ensuring there is enough extra so that the screw can thread into it.
You may also need a much smaller drill bit, which is known as a pilot drill. This will allow you to make an initial hole that can guide the larger drill, making the hole more accurate and reducing the risk of you blowing the side out of your bit of wood, which would mean you have to go out and buy more.
A saw is required to cut your pieces of wood into the required shape and size. We suggest a circular saw or table saw, but any type of saw suitable for use with wood can be used. Again, an electric saw will be quicker and more accurate, but it will also be more expensive if you don’t already have one.
Sandpaper will be used to smooth down any rough edges or surfaces on the plywood, to make it both more comfortable to use and more pleasant to look at. We recommend using a bit of 180-grit sandpaper, as this will sufficiently smooth it out, without being too rough and damaging the wood.
Paint, Varnish, Or Other Sealant (Optional)
Paint, varnish, or other types of sealants can be used to finish off a DIY plyo box. While this can add a level of durability to the product and make it more water resistant, it is mainly used for the aesthetic quality it offers, which is why this stage is entirely optional, as it has little effect on the performance.
Just make sure you don’t select a finish that could make your plyo box slippery and unusable.
Plyo Box Building Instructions
Now that you have got all of your tools and materials ready, it is time to start putting it all together and building your DIY plyo box. Make sure you read the following directions carefully before you actually start making it, as even a small mistake could lead to a lot of wasted time and resources.
Measure & Cut The Wood
The plyo box will have 4 sides and a top and a bottom, so you will have to cut 6 rectangles out of your plywood sheet. You will need 2 rectangles of 20 X 24 inches for the ends, another 2 measuring 20 X 30 inches for the sides, and a final 2 measuring 24 x 30 inches for the top and bottom.
You first want to mark out these rectangles using your ruler and pencil, then use the level to confirm that all of the lines are perfectly straight. You will then cut these out using your saw, and use your level to help you make sure that all of the edges remain straight as you cut.
Drill Holes In The End & Side Pieces
You then want to drill holes in each corner on the two side pieces. Set them in place by the end pieces before you drill, so you can mark the holes in locations that are perfectly central in the sides of each of the end pieces.
Once you have drilled your holes, put them back next to the end pieces in the position where they will be fixed. Make sure your pencil is very sharp and use it to mark the drill holes in the sides of the end pieces, to ensure the holes perfectly line up with the holes in the side pieces.
Assemble The End & Side Pieces
Hold one of the side pieces up next to both end pieces in their plyo box shape. Use your screws to fix these three pieces together. Looking at the plyo box from the side, put in the top left screw first, followed by the bottom right, then the top right, then finally the bottom left.
Screwing it together in a diagonal fashion like this will stop the screws from pulling the boards out of alignment. Once these three pieces are secure, attach the other side, using an identical diagonal pattern when inserting and fastening the screws.
Once all four pieces are securely in place, use your level to check everything is still where it needs to be. If anything is off, this is your last opportunity to take the box apart and reassemble it.
If you are happy with everything, you can also put wood glue on all of the joints at this time, which will make it sturdier and more secure. If you plan to do this, put your glue on the inside of all of the joints and leave it to dry for 24 hours before moving on to the next step.
Drill & Attach The Top & Bottom Pieces
Place the top on your plyo box and mark where you want to drill the holes to secure it. You need to remember that, while you want the screws as close to the corners as possible, you need to make sure you don’t hit the other screw, so keep a note of what length you used.
The hole also needs to be right in the middle of the board’s thickness again. Once you have drilled all four holes, use your sharp pencil to mark and drill the corresponding holes in the sides, then secure it in place with your screws.
You can again use glue on the inside of the joints, to give added security, but remember to wait 24 hours before continuing if you do so. You then want to flip the box over and repeat the same steps on the bottom piece.
If you want to use glue at this stage, you will obviously need to put it in the join before you put it in place and secure it with screws. This means you will have to work very quickly, to ensure it doesn’t set before everything is ready and in place.
Sand, Paint & Finish
Once everything is in place and all of the glue has dried, take your sandpaper and sand down all of the edges, to avoid leaving any rough or jagged sections that look unsightly or could cause injuries. At this point, your plyo box is now built and ready to use.
That said, if you want, you can now add varnish, sealant, or paint and your choice of designs to the plyo box. This is an optional step but will make the finished product more attractive and could even increase your enjoyment of it. Just make sure to not use anything that will make the surface slippery.
Customization & Variations
Now that the bulk of the building is done, you should all be looking at a virtually identical plyo box, with the exception of perhaps some slightly differing dimensions or finishes if you have chosen to go that way.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean we are done building. We are now going to look at a few variations and customisation options you can add, to ensure you truly get your DIY plyo box to be exactly how you want it.
Take your pencil and draw the outlines of the handles near the top of the end pieces of the box. Use your drill to make pilot holes in the centre of the handles and then use your saw to cut out the wood inside. This is a cut where an electric saw or a hand saw with a very thin blade is very beneficial.
Once you have completely cut both handles out, take your sandpaper and smooth out all of the edges. If you added a finish to your plyo box, you can also add this here as well if you want, although it isn’t necessary.
Some people find that adding padding to their plyo box makes it more enjoyable to use and can even make it more aesthetically pleasing.
One of the best ways to do this is to buy some of the foam, interlocking gym flooring you find in free weight areas or something similar, as this is both strong and cushioned.
You then simply attach it to the top of the plyo box (and the sides if you want to) with a strong wood glue. Just remember to let it dry for 24 hours before you decide to use your plyo box.
Total Cost Of Building A DIY Plyo Box
The biggest variable to the cost of building a DIY plyo box is the wood that you use. We recommend using a high quality plywood, as this is strong and durable, without being too expensive. A relatively good piece of plywood will set you back between 50 and 90 dollars in most hardware stores.
The rest of the costs are negligible, with the exception of an electric saw or drill. If you don’t intend to purchase either of those items, the total cost should come to no more than 100 dollars.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS) About Plyo Boxes
Before we end our guide on how to make your own DIY plyo box, I want to quickly go over some of the most frequently asked questions about plyo boxes or the process of making your own, to ensure everyone knows exactly what they are doing and how to get the most out of their plyo box.
What Are The Benefits Of A Plyo Box?
A plyo box is primarily designed to be used in explosive, plyometric exercises (hence the name), such as box jumps, to develop power and the fast twitch muscle fibres in the muscles of the lower body.
However, they can also be used to develop the upper body with calisthenic exercises and improve mobility and stability throughout the body with dynamic stretches. The combination of these uses is the primary reason that a plyo box has become an extremely common piece of kit in CrossFit.
How Do You Use A Plyo Box?
There is no one way to use a plyo box, as it can be used to perform such a broad range of exercises. It is simply designed to support your weight and provide an elevated platform, to give you a greater range of options when training outside of a gym or with calisthenic exercises.
Are Plyo Boxes Worth It?
Plyo boxes are extremely versatile pieces of fitness equipment, that can be used in many different training styles and to achieve a variety of goals. As such, a plyo box is definitely worth it, especially if you intend to build your own for a reasonable price.
Final Thoughts On Building Your Own DIY Plyo Box At Home
Building your own DIY plyo box may seem like a daunting task, but if you follow the steps we have outlined in our guide, even people without much technical knowhow should have very little difficulty in creating their own.
This will allow them to make the most of all the benefits offered by plyo boxes, while tailoring it to their own physical needs and embracing their personal style.
That said, if you want to make the most of the benefits of plyo boxes, but really don’t feel you are up to the task of making your own, there are plenty of fabulous readymade plyo boxes already on the market for you to choose from, so there is simply no need to miss out.
Steve is a retired professional wrestler with over 10 years of experience in the personal fitness industry. He is a certified personal trainer working with a wide variety of athletes as well as a fitness writer.