When it comes to heavy lifting, there are certain exercises and certain methods that go above and beyond amazingly helpful in your weight training. One of those is definitely box squats. Squats are one of the best lower body building exercises in existence and have a place in every workout, but when it comes to serious muscle and power, the box squat takes things into a league of its own. It’s a serious leg builder.

To fully come to terms with box squats, what they are and why they’re so good, however, we first need to know everything there is to know about them. That comes from the benefits, the technique, the dangers… the works. We need all of it, and luckily, we’re here with just that.

Let’s look into what makes this titan of leg day so incredible to use.

What Are Box Squats?

 

Closeup of boxes used for box squats

 

The first place to look as always is with an insightful overview of the whole exercise. What actually is a box squat?

The definition is, essentially, that you’re doing a squat with a box placed behind you. That allows you to reach a safe and sturdy stopping point, enabling you to have more support and control in your lift without limitations that other kit may impose.

Why Are They Effective?

What makes box squats so useful is down to more than just the box though. It’s everything else you are doing too. The fact that you have the box behind you means you are doing everything exactly as you are supposed to with every single lift. That’s invaluable as it is, and just like adding a smith machine or power rack to your squat workout, it makes your lifts potential escalate tenfold. It’s an incredible way to spice up your squat for serious power.

The next step that makes them even better than they already sound is the box itself. It’s not just any old box after all, and there’s actually a lot of room for variation even just in this. Changing the height is what we’re talking about more than anything, as you can really make it your own. Every different height does something different for your technique. You can hit every angle that you need to, to iron out your weak points and make the squat the strongest lift that you possibly can.

All of that comes from just having a box underneath you. It’s absurd but so effective.

How to do Box Squats

 

Person preparing for box squats

 

The box squat, of course, follows the same principles of any other squat. As far as the essentials go, the only difference comes from how to use the box. As always, we'll run through it start to finish.

The Set-Up

As always, the first place to start with your box squat comes from where you choose to get set up. If you get your set-up wrong, you're asking for trouble after all. The basics are always the first things to think of.

Wide stance

Make sure your feet are in a wide stance, with shoulder width being the benchmark you should be looking for. Don't overstretch, but too close isn’t good either unless you’re aiming for a quad focussed move.

Bar comfortable

Once you're stood in the right place, that's when it times to load up. Get the weight you need on your bar ready for the big lifts, and make sure you can hold it comfortably. Use whatever support you need to and make sure the bar is resting on your back safely (or front if it’s a front squat, but stay light for that).

Box set

As well as the bar needing to be set up, to do the box squat properly, it’s also a good idea to get the box you need ready too. Make sure you pick a box that is the right height for what you’re about to be doing, and that it’s in the right place too. You need to be able to put a huge level of trust in your equipment, and an accident is the last thing that you need.

Feet pointed out

Finally, make sure that your feet are also in the right angle for your life. After your stance distance is at the right place, it's also essential that you make sure your feet are pointed slightly out too. Don’t go too far but find a good angle around 30 degrees out form straight. That should give you the best chance that you could ask for.

The Box Squat Technique

Getting into the actual exercise, we need to look at how you should be carrying out the full motion after your set up is where it needs to be. You’re using a lot of weight and a lot of muscles after all. There's always going to be room for you to make the mistakes in the exercise if you are not sure about what you’re doing.

Feet Flat

Make sure that you are not letting your heels come off the floor. This is one of the most common mistakes in a squat, especially for a beginner. It's seriously bad news, and you can do a lot of damage. Keep flat at all times and ensure the weight is distributed across your whole foot.

Butt out

Keep your bum pushed out throughout the whole exercise. This is another point that can’t be stressed enough. Not doing it is one of the main reasons a squat can hurt your knees. Keep your glutes pushed out the whole time.

Chest out

The same goes for your upper body during the box squat as well. Always make sure that you are pushing your chest outwards as well as your bum. These are the two biggest principles of the whole thing, and you cannot afford to get them wrong.

Abs tensed

To make sure that you stay constant, and another biggie comes from your core and your abs in particular. Make sure you keep them tight throughout the whole set. Don’t let up. Your core will keep you doing exactly what you need to and stop anything happening without you even realising it. It's a huge exercise, after all.

Avoid

In addition to what you should be doing in your box squat, it’s also a great time to take a look at what you should not be doing too. Spotting the biggest mistakes in a box squat is one of the best ways to ensure you don’t fall into any traps. It’s seriously useful info to have to hand.

Back straight

The first one comes from your back. Make sure that your back is staying at the same angle throughout the whole movement. You should be almost straight. Any bending will recruit your lower back into the exercise, and that is not something that should happen. It's asking for an injury, and that can take you out of your training for weeks if not longer. Just do not do it.

Don’t relax

Looking more specifically at the box squat, it’s important to remember a couple of things about the box as well. Mainly, make sure that you sit back and not down. If you come to a complete sitting down position, you’ll lose all of the energy it took to get going in the first place. After that, you’ll also make the shift of weight hit your quads more than anything else, and that isn’t what the squat is about. Use it for support, not as a chair.

Don’t pause on the box (but don’t bounce)

Lastly, we also need to take a quick look into the momentum you build throughout the exercise. With what we said previously, it’s easy to get a little bit too much speed in your reps. Remember to keep things nice and slow to get the best contraction hat you can d without risk. Don't bounce off the box and sue more momentum than you should. Go down slowly, touch the box, hold for a second, and then go. Don’t bounce.

 

 

That’s everything

Overall, that's about everything you need to know to master a box squat. It has the potential to be one of the best lower body building exercises you could ask for, so it deserves a little bit of time and effort to master perfectly. It is a hard exercise after all. When there's more weight involved than usual, it's easy to make mistakes. Stay safe, lift strong and always keep your form in mind. Good luck!

 

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If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.