Box Squats??

This article is great for pointing out the benefits of box squatting AND the improvements it has on your squats, deadlifts, and O-lifting.  Awesomeness!

Let’s talk box…box squatting that is. There is nothing new about box squatting, but you would think so since currently not much literature is out there regarding this exercise and the present use of the box squat is only by certain powerlifting circles and high school strength training.

Where did the box squat come from? Well, there was a weightlifting club in Culver City, California during the late 1960’s and early 1970, the original Westside Barbell Club, and they were years ahead of their time. That’s enough history. Let’s get to why one should box squat.

Why Box Squat?

Doing box squats will be the easiest way to learn to squat properly. When doing squats most everyone descends correctly, most everyone that is. When squatting on a box just below parallel, all your squats will be just below parallel. When doing regular squats, when the weight gets heavier, one will invariably squat higher and higher. There is a way to fix this: start on a box several inches above parallel. Squat down to the box sitting back and when that becomes comfortable begin slowly decreasing the size of the box until you are breaking parallel. Again sit back, not down, on the box. When this feels right, then you’re squatting correctly.

You can squat very deep when using a box. This in no way puts pressure on the knee or patella tendon, in fact, the proper muscles used when squatting are the Hamstrings, Glutes and Hips…(Yeah, I thought it was the quads too). Actually, squats will work the quads when you squat incorrectly. I used to squat deep, passed parallel, but I was doing them wrong. Thus, I tore my left quad and patella. Have you ever seen Olympic lifters squat? They squat very deep, but they bounce out of the bottom. We flex the glutes and hamstrings. OK, the quads too, for some of us.

I recently started doing box squats. I first fell right on my butt each time I went down, the reason was because I had weak hamstrings. Let me emphasize the word: had. Box squats are making it possible for me to squat over 600 and deadlift over 650. Those numbers might not be huge to some right now, but unlike some on the Internet I tell the truth about my lifts and with all the recent injuries I have acquired over the years, it’s nice to get the weights I used too.

What Box Squatting Will Do For You

Because one sits on a box and then flexes to overcome the resistance, box squats will quickly improve pulling strength for deadlifts or Olympic lifts. Box squats are much less stressful on the lifter, and by using percents of a 1-rep max at 50-60% for 10 sets of 3 reps working into singles eventually over an 8-week period you will break your squat 1-rep max. Also, after learning to box squat, muscular soreness is much less than with regular squatting. Increased flexibility can also be developed while box squatting: by going lower than normally possibl,e and by using a wider stance your shins are positioned past vertical. Thus sitting extremely far back on the box isolates all the correct squatting muscles: the glutes, hips, hamstrings, spinal erectors, and abs are totally pre-stretched and overloaded simultaneously, producing a tremendous stretch reflex.

When performing box squats some muscles are held statically, while others are actually relaxed. Or, if you will, certain muscles are being held static and then dynamic. Going from relaxed to dynamic work will also build tremendous explosive and absolute strength. I used to use knee wraps in training, not anymore. I also use bands and bar weight combined at the top with no knee problems at all. How? As I stated earlier I sit back far enough on the box where there is no pressure on my patella tendons.

Why Don’t More Bodybuilders Box Squat?

Okay, powerlifters are becoming convinced the box squats are a must for huge squats. So, why are so many strength coaches and bodybuilding enthusiasts still refusing to even try box squats? I can answer that. It’s simple, everyone in this industry feels they know everything, and are afraid to do something different and have it work for fear that it would contradict them. That is false knowledge and you will never gain in strength, size or science. Here’s a little something from Professor Yuri V. Verhoshansky’s respected sports science textbook, Programming and Organization of Training: “Indispensable conditions of training organization which provide extensive and relatively prolonged disturbance of homeostasis, are the precise dosage of loading, as well as rehabilitation stages necessary for triggering a compensatory reaction, elimination of the heterochronicalness phenomenon in the dynamics of the various functional of organism at the new functional level.” Do, I need to repeat myself?

A Final Tip

Remember to raise the traps into the bar first to ascend. If you push the feet into the floor first, you will find yourself in a semi-good-morning position, which is wrong and dangerous. I know someone reading this is saying they squat fine and don’t box squat. Well, are you one of the top 100 in your weight class? How about the bodybuilding realm? Or are you one of those when doing regular squats, when the weight gets heavier, you squat higher and higher? I’ve given many reasons why you should try box squatting, and I can’t think of one reason not to.

Give it a try…and give me one more rep!

38 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. great post! I have been looking for a new workout routine in yahoo and I found your blog. I just begin a training and I am pretty clueless.

  2. Melissa says:

    Glad I could help! In training for powerlifting events, especially on the off time, I make sure to change up my exercises. That way I hit different muscles, introduce muscle confusion to increase results, and it keeps the workouts dynamic and fun. Any questions, let me know.

  3. Berry Nemets says:

    I am a 1st year student at Kendall and I found this site very helpful. Thank you

  4. Melissa says:

    Glad it was helpful Berry. I try to continually share new things and any changes to my programs, especially the more I advance with my powerlifting.

  5. Do you know if this is something that works over night or does it take a while for it to work?

  6. Melissa says:

    Does what work overnight? Box squats help strengthen and open up your hips (if you go wide enough with your stance) and they hit your hamstrings. No strength is overnight, but it helps for sure.

  7. I thought that was a great article. I think I’ll create a blog post and link to it.

  8. I’m having a tiny bit of a difficult time having your Word Press blog work with my browsers I’m using chrome and Opera, and I wanted to put up something about the Olympics and I can’t. Help me out?

  9. Melissa says:

    I tested in both programs and it seemed to work fine for me. Let me know what kind of error you are getting. You can email me at

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  13. Melissa says:

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    Thank you! I welcome input from others as well so feel free to share your thoughts. How did you hear about the blog by the way?

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    Why thank you! How did you come across the blog?

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    That’s fine is you want to link to my blog.

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  27. Melissa says:

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  30. Melissa says:

    You click on the RSS feed and subscribe. We use feedburner and it should work pretty simply. You click on the link in the left toolbar and pick which avenue you want to view the updated posts in (i.e. google, yahoo, etc..)

    If you still have trouble please let me know but it should work ok. :-)
    Thank you for the kind words.

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  32. Melissa says:

    I’m so glad you found it helpful. Thank you for reading!

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