Throughout the annals of powerlifting history and lore, one technique has stood out among all the others (and there are many) for helping men and women to squat more and more poundage: The box squat. Many powerlifters have attributed leaps from their previously plateaued weight limits, to some higher number (often by 100 to 200 additional pounds) after introducing box squats into their routine.
How to Box Squat
This part is easy. Place a solid, 4-inch to 6-inch tall box behind you as you prepare to squat. Squat back to a sitting position. You don’t sit – rather, you “set” your body down upon the box for just a split second, and then return to the standing position. Use a low weight when completing this movement for the first time, as you may find balance to be an issue as you learn this movement.
Every new squatter should box squat. The biggest mistake that new powerlifters make in the gym is not breaking parallel on squats. Since the box used in box squats it located just a few inches off the ground, you are absolutely required to break parallel to complete the movement. It takes all of the cheating potential out of the movement, and it takes away a lot of the stress that comes with the “Am I doing this correctly?” self-doubt. If you squat the weight down, sit on the box, then return to standing, you have completed the rep correctly.
The box squat benefits lifts besides just the squat. Deadlift and Olympic pulling movements become easier due to the overall body strength required to stand up. Not just the legs, but also the back, torso, and other core muscles benefit as well.
Variations on the movement
Standard box squats work the entire lower body. By sitting back further in the seated position, you are able to more effectively target the glutes, hamstrings, and hip muscles. Leaning forward lends more of the workload to the front quadriceps. Additionally, using a wide stance increases inner thigh strength and flexibility.
The box squat is designed for powerlifters, not bodybuilders. This movement targets core muscles and allows the lifter to quickly increase the poundage moved. However, it is primarily a strength-increasing movement. It isn’t designed to pull blood into the quads or grow the legs – it’s designed to train the body to handle more weight during the squat. If you’re looking to add numbers to your squat total, not necessarily add size to your body, give box squats a shot!