Box Squat: How To & Benefits

Written by Daniel Mesa
Last Updated On

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box squat

Box squats are a flexible and powerful strength-training exercise that can help you strengthen your lower body, enhance your squat form, and target various muscle groups. Box squats are a flexible and powerful strength-training exercise that can help you strengthen your lower body, enhance your squat form, and target various muscle groups. To mix up your lower body workouts, we’ll also look at exercises other than box squats.

How To Do The Box Squat

box squats

Step 1: Set Up

You’ll need a sturdy box or weight bench to perform a box squat. Start by positioning the box behind you in the squat rack. Make sure it’s at an appropriate height. It’s a good idea for beginners to start with a higher box and gradually decrease the height as you become more comfortable with the movement.

Step 2: Positioning

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly pointed outward. You should place the barbell on your upper back, across your traps, with your hands gripping it slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.

Step 3: Descend

Begin the squat by pushing your hips back as if sitting back on the box. Keep your chest up and your back straight. Lower yourself until your buttocks gently touch the box. It’s important to control the descent and not crash onto the box.

Step 4: Ascent

Once your buttocks touch the box, pause briefly and then explosively drive through your heels to stand back up, fully extending your hips and knees. Maintain proper form throughout the movement.

Our Tips For Box Squat Form

Tip 1: Keep a Neutral Spine

When performing box squats, it’s essential to keep your spine neutral. This means avoiding the common mistake of rounding your lower back as you drop. Instead, deliberately contract your core to support your spine while concentrating on maintaining an upright posture. Doing this will stop you from hunching forward, which might result in bad posture and possible back pain.

Tip 2: Control the Descent

For a number of reasons, it’s important to regulate your fall speed onto the box. First, it improves general strength by forcing muscles to contract eccentrically. As you are less likely to lose control and collapse forward or backwards, it also helps with balance. Last but not least, a controlled descent lessens the chance of injury by ensuring that you land softly on the box instead of crashing into it, which lessens the impact on your joints.

Tip 3: Keep Knees Aligned

Proper knee alignment maintains stability and prevents strain during box squats. Make sure your knees follow the same path as your feet throughout the entire action. Keep your knees from buckling inward, which can place undue strain on the knee joint and perhaps cause injuries. By paying deliberate attention to knee position, you may encourage a safer and more productive squatting experience while reducing the likelihood of discomfort or injury.

Common Box Squats Mistakes To Avoid

Mistake 1: Using Too Much Weight

Using too much weight when performing box squats is a common error that could harm your form and result in injury. Starting with a weight that enables you to retain appropriate technique is crucial. A safe and efficient development in your training is achieved by gradually raising the weight as your strength increases.

Mistake 2: Neglecting Depth

Another common mistake is to overlook the depth of your box squat. Failure to squat low enough to touch the box results in a half squat, which reduces the effectiveness of the exercise. Aim for a depth where your hips are parallel to or slightly below your knees to get the most out-of-the-box squat. This ensures you engage all the targeted muscle groups and develop functional strength.

Mistake 3: Not Engaging Core

Engaging your core muscles throughout the box squat movement is important for stability and safety. Neglecting your core might result in poor form and back issues. Maintain an erect posture and protect your spine by keeping your core firm and supportive while executing box squats. Core involvement improves overall squat performance and strength development.

Box Squat Muscles Worked

Box squats are a compound exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including:

Quadriceps

The quadriceps, which are placed in front of your thighs, bear most of the burden during the upward part of the squat. They contract to straighten your knee joints and raise your body to a standing position, making them essential for the ascending movement of the squat.

Hamstrings

Your hamstrings contract when you push your hips back to begin the squat. These muscles at the back of your thighs are essential for hip extension during the squat’s upward phase. They operate along with your glutes to get you back to standing.

Glutes

The gluteus maximus, your largest buttock muscle, is required for hip extension during squat ascent. As you rise from a squat, your glutes contract to propel your hips forward, assisting you in maintaining balance and strength throughout the activity.

Lower Back

Throughout the workout, your lower back muscles work hard to keep you upright. They serve to support your spine by avoiding excessive forward or backwards leaning during squatting, guaranteeing proper form, and lowering your chance of injury.

Core

The core muscles are vital in stabilizing your spine and pelvis throughout the entire squat. They work in concert with your lower back to keep your torso upright and maintain balance, making them essential for a safe and effective squat.

Box Squat Benefits

Benefit 1: Improved Squat Form

Box squats are an excellent technique for improving your squat form. One of the most common faults in traditional squats is allowing the knees to wander too far forward, which puts undue strain on the knee joints and slows progress. Box squats address this problem by urging you to sit back and down on the box, establishing good hip movement and posture. 

As you practice, this movement pattern becomes established in your muscle memory, resulting in more controlled and safer squats. Improved squat form is a fundamental benefit of including box squats into your regimen, whether you’re a beginner hoping to learn the ropes or an experienced lifter looking to polish your technique.

Benefit 2: Enhanced Strength

Box squats are an effective way to increase lower body strength. This workout makes you concentrate hard on regulated and explosive movements, especially during the ascent period. Box squats require a strong hip drive to lift the weight from a static position because they purposely divide the squat into two distinct phases—descent and ascent. This emphasis on explosive strength improves squat performance and encourages the development of raw lower body power. 

As a result, your ability to lift greater weights improves, and this newfound power can easily transfer to other compound exercises such as deadlifts and lunges. You’ll see considerable gains in total lower body strength as you gradually increase the load and master your box squat form.

Benefit 3: Reduced Joint Stress

Box squats are safer for people with knee or lower back concerns. They’re unique because they break the squat into two parts: first, you slowly sit on a box and then explode back up. This division reduces the pressure on your knees and lower back compared to regular squats, where you move continuously up and down. 

Lowering yourself onto the box makes your knees feel less strained and your back steadier. Box squats are an excellent option for recovering from injuries or dealing with ongoing joint issues. They provide a gentler way to work on your lower body strength without worsening existing problems, making them a smart addition to your workout routine.

Alternatives To The Box Squat

Sumo Box Squat

The Sumo Box Squat is a great alternative to standard box squats. In this form, you take a wide stance with your toes pointed outward, similar to a sumo wrestler’s posture. Doing so emphasises several muscle groups, notably the inner thighs (adductors) and hip and gluteal muscles. This exercise diversifies your leg workouts and improves hip mobility and flexibility. Individuals trying to diversify their lower body training or those looking to address specific muscle imbalances in the inner thigh area may benefit from the Sumo Box Squat.

Bulgarian Split Squat

The Bulgarian Split Squat is a great leg exercise. Here’s how to do it: Stand before a bench or step about two feet away. Put one foot behind you on the bench. Keep your chest up and your core tight. Bend your front knee until it’s a 90-degree angle, and your back knee hovers just above the ground. Push through your front heel to stand back up. This move works your leg muscles, like quads, hamstrings, and glutes. It also helps with balance and flexibility. Plus, it’s a good choice if you want an exercise that tests each leg separately, helping you find and fix any strength differences.

Goblet Squat

The Goblet Squat is a simple yet powerful squat variation. You just need a dumbbell or kettlebell. Hold it close to your chest with both hands, then squat normally. Keeping the weight near your chest helps your core and posture. Goblet squats strengthen your lower body, improve your squat form, and make you more flexible. They’re great if you don’t have a barbell or like different squat styles. You can make Goblet Squats easier or harder by changing the weight.

Bottom Line On The Barbell Box Squat

Box squats are excellent for increasing lower-body strength, improving squat form, and minimizing joint stress. Box squats can benefit considerably when performed correctly and integrated into a well-rounded training plan. Remember to start with moderate weights, focus on form, and then advance to more difficult variations for continued growth.

FAQs

How high should the box be for box squats?

The box height depends on your fitness level and flexibility. Beginners should start with a higher box, while advanced lifters can use a lower one. Ideally, the box height should allow your hips to be parallel to or slightly below your knees at the bottom of the squat.

Can box squats help with knee pain?

Box squats are often recommended for individuals with knee pain because they reduce stress on the knees by emphasizing hip movement. However, consulting a healthcare professional for personalized advice on managing knee pain is crucial.

How do I know if I’m using proper box squat form?

Proper form includes maintaining a neutral spine, controlling the descent, and engaging your core. Consider working with a certified trainer to assess your form or record yourself to self-evaluate and make necessary adjustments.

References

  1. Marián, V., Katarína, L., Dávid, O., Matúš, K., & Simon, W. (2016). Improved Maximum Strength, Vertical Jump and Sprint Performance after 8 Weeks of Jump Squat Training with Individualized Loads. Journal of sports science & medicine, 15(3), 492–500.
  1. Myer, G. D., Kushner, A. M., Brent, J. L., Schoenfeld, B. J., Hugentobler, J., Lloyd, R. S., Vermeil, A., Chu, D. A., Harbin, J., & McGill, S. M. (2014). The back squat: A proposed assessment of functional deficits and technical factors that limit performance. Strength and conditioning journal, 36(6), 4–27. https://doi.org/10.1519/SSC.0000000000000103

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