Box Squats: How To Perform The Box Squat With Proper Form And Technique

You have to switch up things from time to time. Adding variation to your workout routine is key to continue building strength and more lean muscle mass. Box squats are an effective compound exercise and squat variation that will help you do just that. The box squat can add more depth, better form, and explosiveness to your traditional barbell back squat, building better performance and power.

What Are Box Squats 

Box squats are a squat variation, used to help develop form and power. A plyobox is positioned behind you while performing a barbell back squat. Once you start the eccentric phase or decent of the squat, you sit on the box, pause, and explode back up driving the weight to starting position. Box squats are not typically programmed in training programs, because most lifters do not know how to execute a box squat correctly. It’s not just as simple as sitting then standing back up. Other variations such as the front squat, landmine squat, overhead squat, pistol squats, and Bulgarian split squats will also develop more muscle and strength, however the box squat can greatly develop power by focusing on technique and explosiveness.

Box Squats Muscles Worked

Just like a traditional barbell back squat, the box squat is a compound functional strength movement that works multiple muscle groups, joints, and secondary stabilizing muscles. Primarily the box squat targets the muscles in your posterior chain and legs, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core.

Benefits Of Box Squats

Develops More Power And Strength

Adding variation to your exercise routine, is key to continue building gains. Box squats are an effective alternative to traditional back squats, to help heighten awareness of form and technique. What’s great about the box squat, is that forces you to channel more power and strength. Traditional squats position your weight differently and anteriorly load your center of gravity. Box squats force your hips to reach back placing greater emphasis on your posterior chain (hips, glutes, hamstrings, back), taking the focus away from the quads. Instead of you knees breaking, your hips and glutes push back first placing more emphasis on the hamstrings, glutes and core. From the pause on the box, the ascent or concentric phase, will help develop explosive power, as you stand back up using your posterior chain.  

Teaches You Proper Form

Box squats teach you proper form. When executing a squat, you’ll often hear from your coach to “imagine you are pushing back and trying to sit in a chair.” Well with a plybox or stack of weights strategically positioned behind you at an optimal height and squat depth parallel to the floor, you’ll be able to focus on your form, as opposed to having a heavy loaded barbell on your back.

Holding correct form and engaging the right muscle groups throughout the squat is perhaps one of the most important parts to ensure you gain the maximum benefit.

Improves Functional Movement

Squatting is a natural and functional movement often found in everyday human movement patterns. The more comfortable you are squatting weight, with correct form you’ll build better posture, core stability and strength, giving more functional purpose to conventional movements. 

During the box squat, having the power to drive out of the deficit, bottom position, and carry the weight to the top position requires a lot of control from the body under a large amount on tension. This ability is learned over a period of time and can produce some very impressive squat numbers and better movement intent.

How To Box Squat With Correct Form

  • Squat depth is dictated by the height of the box or platform. Therefore, ensure your surface placed behind you is at optimal height to achieve full range of motion and that your depth is parallel to the floor.
  • Position yourself with a wide stance at hip distance, with toes slightly pointed out.
  • Get under the barbell, with your neck pushed into your traps
  • With a wide grip pull the bar tightly into your traps while also engaging your lats and pulling your elbows up.
  • Brace your core pushing your abdomen into your belt, and taking a deep breath in.
  • Lift the bar from the rack keeping your core stabilized and tight against the belt and lifting your chest up as you step back
  • On the descent, or eccentric phase, break at the hips, pushing your glutes and hips back like you’re sitting back a chair not down. This will place more emphasis on your hamstrings, glutes, and hips as opposed to your quads dominating the movement.
  • When the back of your legs make contact with the box, and you find your self paused in the static or seated position, relax your hip flexors while still bracing your core and posterior chain muscles.
  • In an explosive contraction, you will begin the concentric phase or ascent of the lift by standing moving your head first, followed by your glutes and hips.
  • Make sure your core is tight, pushing your abs against the belt, driving your head back and upper back and traps into the bar.
  • Drive your feet outward, push straight up back into the bar, and jump off the box keeping your chest high and pushing up and into the bar and floor, squeezing your glutes pushing forward

Box Squats: Takeaway

Box squats are a very beneficial squat variation, that can help you achieve greater power, strength, and improve your squat technique. With an emphasis on form, the box squat will maximize your heavier lifts to improve and maximize athletic performance.

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