Building Explosive Strength With Box Squats


Box squats were first popularized by Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell. If you've never heard of him, he is one of the strongest people in the world and has squatted 920lbs at the age of 52.

From a safety and performance standpoint, box squats are superior to squats. Many coaches have replaced free squats with box squats for those reasons. Here's how to perform box squats with proper technique:

 

  • Sitting Back: Start by breaking at the hips and pushing your hips back. Do not sit straight down. Your knees should never move forwards when performing box squats.
  • Shins Perpendicular: keep your shins perpendicular to the floor or even back. the further you sit back on the box, the further back your shins will travel. If you sit far back, you will use more of your glutes to get off the box.
  • Keep your Knees Out: Keep your knees pushed out. Think of this as pushing your feet out to the outside of your shoes and do the same with your knees. You knees should never move forwards.
  • Sit on The Box: Continue to sit back while pushing your knees out and control your descent on to the box. When you hit the box relax your hips for a split second and explode up. Do not bounce or rock on the box, this defeats the purpose.

 

Benefits of Box Squats

Hip Power: Box squats are an incredible way to build hip strength. They force you to start from a dead stop and build up your entire posterior chain

Proper Technique: You can't cheat depth with box squats. You will always squat to the same depth.

Posterior Chain: Box squats are far superior to developing your posterior chain than free squats. They develop your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back much more effectively.

Where do I get a Box?

You can use anything as a box as long as it is the right height. You can build your own box out of 2×4 pieces of plywood or use an aerobic step up box. There are also adjustable boxes available but these can be quite expensive.

We use a plywood box made of 2×4 pieces of wood. We add a 1″ rubber mat to the top of the box if we need to raise the height.

Workout

It is ideal to have a separate day dedicated building explosive strength. Use 40% to 60% of your box squat one rep max and perform 8 sets of 2 reps. Remember, you are training to become explosive and should be as explosive as possible on each rep. it is best to stagger your explosive workout in progressive waves of three workout.

This is what a three week wave should look like:

Week 1: 

  • Warmup
  • Squats 8 sets of 2 at 40%
  • Hamstring exercise
  • Lower back exercise
  • abs

 

Week 2:

  • Warmup
  • Squats 8 sets of 2 at 45%
  • Hamstring exercise
  • Lower back exercise
  • abs

 

Week 3

  • Warmup
  • Squats 8 sets of 2 at 50%
  • Hamstring exercise
  • Lower back exercise
  • abs

 

Box Squat Tips

Weak Hamstrings: Many people starting out with box squats fall on to the box during the descend. This usually happens during the last two or three inches of the descend. This is often caused by weak hamstrings. Work in extra exercises like good mornings and pull through several times a weak to bring up your hamstring weakness.

Stay tight: Staying tight while squatting is very important. Flex your abs and keep your stomach pushed out when squatting. Keep your hips tight and descend under control.

Variety: After you are comfortable with box squats and have good form, you can mix things up by using bands, chains, or different types of squat bars. We do not suggest that beginners use these tools. They are for advanced training methods only. If you are asking yourself: "should I use bands or chains" then you are still a beginner and should stick to the basics.

Escamilla RF (January 2001). "Knee biomechanics of the dynamic squat exercise"Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise33 (1): 127–41. PMID 11194098.

Escamilla RF, Fleisig GS, Lowry TM, Barrentine SW, Andrews JR (June 2001). "A three-dimensional biomechanical analysis of the squat during varying stance widths"Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise33 (6): 984–98. PMID 11404665.

Loturco I, Pereira LA, Moraes JE, Kitamura K, Cal Abad CC, Kobal R, Nakamura FY (2017-01-23). "Jump-Squat and Half-Squat Exercises: Selective Influences on Speed-Power Performance of Elite Rugby Sevens Players"PloS One12 (1): e0170627. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0170627PMC 5256944Freely accessiblePMID 28114431.