How to do Box Squats Correctly and Safely

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INTRODUCTION

The squat is the king of all exercises. In order to reap the benefits of this amazing exercise, it is important to perform different squatting variations. The Box Squat is one to have in your fitness arsenal. It allows you to utilize your glutes and your hamstrings more than a traditional back squat as you are required to completely sit back onto a box and explode back up from a dead stop.  

BOX SQUAT FORM VIDEO TUTORIAL

 

BOX SQUAT BENEFITS

  • Strengthens the powerful leg muscles as well as upper back and core
  • Helps to develop explosive strength from a dead stop position.
  • Allows you to change the box height to squat to any desired depth
  • Improves mobility in the hips, ankles, knees and thoracic spine

 

MUSCLES WORKED DURING THE BOX SQUAT

  • Quadriceps

  • Adductors

  • Hamstrings

  • Glutes

  • Core

  • Upper Back

 

BOX SQUAT VS BACK SQUAT

 Box Squat:

  • Allows you to train strength from a dead stop motion
  • Control the depth of the squat
  • Allows you to sit back more on your glutes and hamstrings

 

Traditional Back squat

  • Stronger squat as you can use the stretch reflex (bounce)
  • Utilizes quadriceps more than glutes and hamstrings
  • More difficult to assess the depth 

 

PERFORMING THE BOX SQUAT WITH PROPER TECHNIQUE

  • Approach a barbell that is set in a power rack at the mid-chest level (above the nipple line)

  • Place a box (or bench) at the desired height behind you

  • The box height should place you at a parallel squat when you sit on it

 
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  • Set your grip on the bar just outside of shoulder width with your thumbs wrapped around the bar

  • Dive underneath the bar and position the bar on the natural shelf created between your trapezius muscles and the top of your scapula.

  • Squeeze your scapula together (without shrugging) and maintain this position throughout the entire lift

 
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  • Stand up with the weight and take up to three steps back to position your feet just outside of shoulder width

  • You want to be as close to the box as possible without making contact with it

  • You can point your toes straight, or angled out 15-30 degrees

  • Take a breath, brace your core and begin the movement by simultaneously bending at the hips and knees

  • Sit back a little more into your hamstrings then you would on a traditional squat but maintain a neutral spine.

  • Continue squatting until you are completely sitting on the box

  • CONTROL THE DESCENT. Do not slam down onto the box. Your glutes and hamstring should act as a cushion to allow you to sit in a controlled manner.

 
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  • Completely sit on the box for a 1 count but DO NOT RELAX. It is important to keep every muscle tight. 

  • It is OK to have a forward translation of your knees when sitting on the box.

  • To reverse the movement, drive upwards off the box while maintaining a neutral spine. Squeeze your glutes at the top to finish extending your hips.

 

SUMMARY OF THE BOX SQUAT TECHNIQUE

 
 

Click on each blue circle to view the key technical aspects of this exercise

 

COMMON MISTAKES

BOUNCING OFF THE BOX

This is dangerous and defeats the purpose of the exercise. You must completely sit on the box and be motionless for a 1 count.  Lower the weight and practice on technique

 

ALLOWING YOUR KNEES TO CAVE INWARD ON THE ASCENT

This can cause excessive wear of your hips and knees. Keep your knees in line with your toes and do not allow them to translate inwards.  Decrease the weight and practice technique.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

BOX SQUAT HEIGHT?

Choose a box where you are at parallel when sitting down.  You can train on a box that is slightly higher if you are struggling with maintaining tightness and technique, and with a lower box if you want a greater challenge.  For most people, being at parallel will be sufficient.

 

BOX SQUAT ALTERNATIVES

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Alex & Brittany Robles are the founders of The White Coat Trainer, a site dedicated to improving the health and wellness of busy individuals. Learn more about them here and connect with them on instagram and Twitter. Feel free to send them a message here