Box squats are a squat variation that involves squatting down onto a box (or platform) of a given height. It provides two major benefits.
The first benefit is that it improves your body's proprioception; it's ability to know where to stop at the bottom of a rep, within the range of motion of the regular squat exercise.
The other benefit is that it distinctly breaks up the eccentric (negative rep) and concentric (positive rep) chain of movement. This makes the concentric movement more challenging because you have to initiate it from a dead stop.
The end result is that you strengthen your posterior chain, and thus, improve your explosiveness and speed out of the hole.
Plus, your strength gains transfer directly over to regular squats. This is despite the fact that box squats require using a lighter load than regular squats.Set Up. This exercise is best done in a power rack (though a squat rack can suffice). Start by placing a box or platform inside the rack. Box Height. The box should be the right height for the depth that you'll be squatting. This may require you to be creative to change the heights by putting weights underneath or atop the box to increase its height. There are three types of box squat depths: low, parallel and high box squats. Low. The box height for low box squats can be as much below parallel as desired, so long as you don't have to "rock" your body to squat up. The box is too low if you have to "plop" yourself down in order to sit.Parallel. The top of your knees should be parallel to the crease of your hips. If only your thighs are parallel to the floor (which is considered parallel on regular squats), the box is still too high.High. A high box height is useful for improving the sticking points above parallel. So, the box height for high box squats should be set so that you're only about 1-3 inches above parallel when seated.Adjust the Safety Catches. Adjust the safety bars to prevent the barbell (or yourself) from going beyond the range of motion, in the case of a failed rep or an accident.Add Plates. Add the desired amount of weight to the bar.Get Under the Bar. Get into position in front of the box and proceed to get underneath the bar. You must use the low bar squat barbell position. That means that you place the barbell on the upper part of the middle trapezius, and across the top of the rear deltoids.Unrack The Bar. Unrack and step back into position. Assume a significantly wider than shoulder-width stance with your feet and knees pointing outward. Flex your abs, and keep them tense throughout the entire set, in order to stabilize your core, and thus protect your lower back.Position Your Body. To maintain a proper low bar squat position, push your chest out and bring your scapulae (shoulder blades) together while pulling your elbows down and tensing your upper and middle back muscles. Keep your head inline with your spine, so as to avoid hyperextending your neck. Your gaze should be directed diagonally downward, ahead of you.Negative Repetition. Begin the movement by dropping your hips back and down. Take a Seat. Lower your body at a controlled pace and carefully sit your butt down onto the box. Actually sit down. Don't just "touch and go."Tempo. The negative should take about 1-2 seconds.Midpoint. The midpoint is at the bottom of the range of motion, when you are seated. Here, you must keep your body tense. However, if you can relax your hip flexors without relaxing any other muscles, do so. This allows you to distinctly separate the eccentric and concentric chain of movement. Unless you're doing high box squats, your shins should be at least perpendicular to the floor when seated. Tempo. Pause on the seat for about 1 second.Positive Repetition. Okay, time to stop being lazy, and squat up off that box! "Grip" the Floor. Curl your toes hard by pressing them into the floor. Push through outsides of your feet to drive your hips up and off the box.Squeeze. As you're gripping the floor with your feet, you must squeeze your glutes hard in order to actually propel yourself off the box. As you continue upward, bring your thigh and core muscles into it, too.No Rocking. Do not intentionally rock your torso to gain momentum off the box. That's cheating and it puts you at risk for a lower back injury. Note, however, that some (unintentional) rocking will inevitably occur when squatting heavier loads.Lockout. Complete the repetition by squatting up until your legs are completely extended and locked out.Tempo. Squat up as fast as you can without losing control of breaking form.Repeat. Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions. This exercise is often done with low reps (i.e. 1-3, up to 5) and heavy weight. Though, some folks use a more moderate rep range (e.g. 6-10) with lighter weight.
This Exercise Is Great for All Lifters. It does not matter if you're a beginner, intermediate or advanced weight lifter. Box squats can be the right exercise choice for anyone...
...That said, beginners should be doing it for a different reason than intermediate or advanced lifters. As a beginner, your aim should be to reinforce proper squat depth and range of motion.
By training with box squats (assuming you use a proper box height), it's impossible to not perform the complete range of motion.
Additionally, as a beginner, you should use lighter weight and adhere to a moderate rep scheme on this lift. You can go heavier once you become more exeperienced.
Similar to beginners, some intermediate and advanced lifters (mostly powerlifters) may also use box squats to reinforce a given squat depth and range of motion. However, they often have additional or altogher different objectives.
If you're an intermediate or advanced lifter, box squats are an effective means for increasing your explosiveness and speed out of the hole. In contrast to beginners, the movement will generally be more productive if using heavier loads and lower reps.
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