Ever since I started following Louie Simmons and Dave Tate around 15 years ago, I’ve heavily incorporated box squats into my personal training. I do agree that raw powerlifters should focus more on specificity and perform free squats more often, but this does not mean that they shouldn’t incorporate the box squat throughout the year during specific phases. That said, I can say with absolute confidence that the box squat is highly beneficial for the general personal training client as it teaches them how to sit back and rely on their hips for propulsion in the squat. After a 6-8 week box squatting cycle, you will find that clients gain tremendous box squatting strength that carries over to their free squatting and positively alters their kinematics. Here is a 15-minute video discussing all aspects of box squats.

I hope you enjoy the video and learn a thing or two about box squatting.

box squat

17 Comments

  • Varun George says:

    Great video and info as usual Bret. I’ve been following your stuff for some time now and use your hip thrusts in my own workouts and with my patients as a rehabilitative exercise as well for low back pain. Thanks for putting out such great info!

  • Pete says:

    I think box squats are a really good example of how assistance exercises need to be chosen based on the goals and weaknesses of each individual lifter.

    I remember back in the early-to-mid 2000s, it seemed like every powerlifter on the Internet was advocating some sort of Westside Barbell inspired approach. Bands! Chains! Board presses! Dynamic effort days! Linear periodization is the devil! And of course, lots and lots of box squats.

    Later it seemed like there was a bit of a backlash against box squats from raw powerlifters, who found it really didn’t translate. But it’s not that box squats are bad, they just need to be used appropriately.

    Box squats, as everyone now knows, translates well to geared powerlifting since the squat suit helps a lot with the elastic rebound at the bottom of the hole. And since you don’t need to hit rock bottom anyways (just parallel), you can take a wide stance, lean your hips back, and let the posterior chain do a lot of the work. For raw squats (or high bar, Olympic-weightlifting squats) the limiting factor tends to be the quads, not the hips.

    But even for raw squatters, box squats can be useful. I still see guys who break at the knees first and barely involve the hips at all. Box squats can teach you how to incorporate your hips in the movement while keeping the weight moderately heavy. This is a good example of an assistance exercise perfectly fitting the needs of the lifter at that time.

    If, on the other hand, a squatter has the dreaded “good morning squat” syndrome, box squats probably wouldn’t be the best assistance exercise since they’re already using too much hip. I’d use another assistance exercise (maybe front squats, or back squats with a 3 second pause at the bottom).

    It’s something I wish more strength coaches would talk about: there’s no magic, one-size fits all assistance exercise for everyone.

  • Kenny Croxdale says:

    Let me add some information regarding the various Box Squatting Methods.

    Regarding “Tape and Come Up:: This is an effective tool for increasing power.

    Bouncing Off The Box: This is an extremely aggressive method that will develop even more power. However, it a more advanced method and need to be eased into.

    I’ve used the “Bouncing Box Squat Method” since 1999. The method was discussed in “Squatting: To Be Explosive, Train Explosive” (http://www.liftinglarge.com/Squatting-to-be-Explosive-Train-Explosive_ep_53-1.html} that I co-wrote for Powerllifting USA in 2003.

    Various exercises for increasing power in the squat were examined.

    The “Bouncing Box Squat” exercise description is listed below.

    “1) Plyometric Bouncing Box Squa ts: Plyometric bouncing box squats involve performing loaded squats to a box placed under the lifter’s mid hamstring-glute area. By allowing the legs to hit in this area, it reduces the loading on the spine, the legs absorbing the majority of the impact. As the lifter eccentrically lowers him/herself down to the box, they quickly reverse the movement by bouncing off the box and forcefully exploding upward completing the squat.”

    Rocking Box Squat: You mentioned using this method. The “Rocking Box Squat” is “The Original Westside Barbell Method” that was developed by George Frenn and Joe De Marco. I intervied De Marco in 2007.

    “The Original Westside Box Squat”: This movement has another interesting component that increases drive off the box.

    In rocking back, the heels are lifted up;. As you rock forward, the heels are then slammed into the floor. This method dramatically increased drive off the box.

    Kenny Croxdale

  • Rosu M. says:

    Hi Bret, I have a question. 1) I just purchased your Strong Curves book, I follow your Facebook page and read your articles on your website, but I couldn’t find any specific information about the ‘side butt’ (dents). Q) Are there any exercises one can do on a regular basis for this problem. 2) And also I am on a weight loss journey and planning to start next week with your full body program. Q) If I am in a 20% calorie deficit and I’m am not losing weight anymore at a certain point, do I have to calculate my calories again but now based on a lower weight until I reach target weight? 4Q) Do you still recommend the Harris Benedit equation for calculating TDEE calories? There’s a lot of discussion on the web regarding Harris B and the Katch McGardle (body fat percentage and muscle mass) equations. There is a really big difference in TDEE calories. 5) I have to lose 35kg (fat), but I’m a bit confused regarding your program. Q) Should I expect no gains in the glutes because I will be in a calorie defict for probably a year? After hitting my target weight following your full body program and slowly with reverse dieting eating in a surplus can I then expect any gaines in the glutes? Or by then my muscles are already used to progressive overload. I’m asking because you said advanced people don’t see significant changes as when you just are a beginner. Btw, English is not my first language as you probably can tell. I hope you”ll have the time to answer my question.

  • welks says:

    How tall should the box be?

  • Derek says:

    Hey Bret, just want o say thanks , first off for all the information you have been putting up. My question is, do you follow the progressions outlined in your e-book on lower extremity progressions with all your clients. And, how do you progress them. Dou you program the progressions in 4-6 week blocks, or is it more of a week-week basis. I guess this would be more directed to the body weight progressions. Thanks Derek

  • Darryn says:

    Hi Bret and Chris,

    Great video and content as usual!

    Im curious as to why you prefer a rock on the box rather than maintaining the forward lean? In particular, if your goal was to improve RFD with BxSquats by removing the SSC, wouldnt the rock reduce the effect of concentric only RFD from the box?

    Look forward to the PhD being approved and published!!

  • Johnny says:

    I have never really incorporated box squats, but was considering it before I read your article. I will definitely try them out now. Do you have an opinion of whether to do them with or without a belt?

  • Nick W says:

    As a trainer, I love using box squats with clients for the reasons you mention. It’s also a great way to improve mobility – start slightly above parallel, parallel, below parallel.

    As a raw powerlifter, I’ve found that as my box squat increases, so does my raw squat. It may also help that I do not use a very wide stance like Westside typically advocates. It definitely is also a refreshing break from free squatting. As a note, I always box squat to 2-3″ below parallel – where it would without doubt count in a meet if there was no box. Thanks for the great content Bret!

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