Box Squats, Why do them?

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infinite_labs, squats

The box squat is great for many reasons!

However it must be done correctly and most people performing them makes me want to scream what the….  I’m going to go over two kinds of box squats, one being on how to sit back properly and the other being the touch and go box squat used mainly to gauge depth.

Research shows that box squats and power lifting squats are indeed “safer” for the low back compared to traditional squats. Also the box squat displayed the highest loading on the knee joints. Rate of force development (RFD) was 3-4 times higher in the box squat than the other squats. This is INSANE!

Box squates forces you to pause at the bottom, which causes you to recruit more muscle fibers to get you out of the hole and back up to the top. More muscle fibers recruited equals more strength and more growth. You can accurately set how low you’ll go in your descent, simply by adjusting the box height. Ready set let’s go….

Set your stance. You should set your stance as wide as possible, with your knees pushed out to the sides and your feet pointing straight ahead or slightly outward.

Set yourself to the bar. Get under the bar, push your neck into your traps, and position the bar
in the groove of the upper back (not above the traps). Pulling your shoulder blades together may help you maintain the proper position of the bar. With a wide-hand monkey grip on the bar, pull the bar tightly into your traps, while pulling your elbows up and under to engage the lats (do not flare your elbows out.

box squats, infinite_labsSet your core. Now that your upper back is tight and you are positioned for the lift, you’ll need to tighten your midsection. Expand your abdomen (not your chest) by taking a deep breath through the diaphragm, pulling as much air as possible into your abdomen by pushing your belly into your lifting belt. In order 
for the power from your lower body to be maximally transferred to the bar, your abdominal muscles must be tight throughout the entire lift.

 

Lift the bar from the rack. With the core as tight as possible, lift the bar out of the rack by arching your upper back, lifting your chest up as you drive your head back, then pushing the bar up evenly with your legs. You should also be forcing your knees out to the sides and pushing out on the sides of your shoes, never downward, as though you are trying to spread the floor apart. This is to further activate the hips.

You are now ready to descend into the eccentric phase of the lift.

The eccentric phase begins by breaking the hips first, not the knees. You do this by pushing the glutes and hips rearward (then follow with the head) as you push your feet and knees out, thus forcing you to sit back (not down, or your quads will dominate). This is the only way to activate your hips and glutes to their full potential, to ensure maximum involvement of the posterior chain. By sitting back, NOT down, you place the glutes and hamstrings in a highly desirable stretched position. While descending to the box, continue to keep your head and chest high, maintain a tightly arched back, and be sure your core is as tight as possible by keeping your abs pushed out until you are sitting on the box or just above.

Lift the bar from the rack. With the core as tight as possible, lift the bar out of the rack by arching your upper back, lifting your chest up as you drive your head back, then pushing the bar up evenly with your legs. You should also be forcing your knees out to the sides and pushing out on the sides of your shoes, never downward, as though you are trying to spread the floor apart. This is to further activate the hips.

You are now ready to descend into the eccentric phase of the lift.

Box squatting is the most effective method to produce a first-rate squat.  This is, in my opinion, the safest way to squat.

As an added bonus, box squats will build the deadlift as well by overloading the hips and lower back muscles.

Your ability to explode off the floor will increase greatly. For a beginner, starting with the box squat is perfect always begin with a light weight and move up. Another great reason to use the box squat initially is it will strengthen your glutes and hamstrings, muscle groups that are generally weak with beginners.  During the box squat there is very little stress on your knees, which is another big benefit if you have knee problems.

Do not sit straight down
Do not plop on the box
Do not intentionally rock back on the box
Do not box squat 3 inches below parallel
Do not box squat 3 inches above parallel!

 

joeeuropa3IFBB Professional Bodybuilder
Director of Physical Performance Infinite Labs Orlando FL
Certified Trainer
Advance Sports Nutrition Specialist
  (ASNS)
Certified Navy Seal Fitness Instructor
Freelance writer:
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