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Box Squats Rock, Here’s a Quick How-to.

June 15, 2010

“Everyone thinks the Olympic lifts are so quick. While your cleans at 60% look fast, so do our box squats at 60%. The athlete who can power clean 400 uses 240(60%). The lifter who can squat 800 uses 480 (60%). Who do you really think would be faster and stronger? Compared to a powerlifter, an Olympic lifter can’t squat with the Sunday paper. A kid that can hang clean 400 would look frail to an 800 squatter.” Louie Simmons, Westside Barbell

Box Squats, done properly, are without a doubt one of the most productive lifts in the gym.  They turn the Squat, oftentimes a slower moving lift, into a very explosive movement.  Explosive potential + weight = strength AND power improvements, with (typically) more weight and a “safer” (or at least easier to learn and more familiar to most) bar path than Olympic lifts such as Power Cleans or Snatches.

Safer was put in quotations because, like any barbell exercise, if box squats are done improperly, they are both completely useless and dangerous.  The box is not a crutch or a resting spot, and the back should never round.  Proper form is summarized thusly:

  • Down like a regular squat
  • When contact with the box is made, it should occur with proper squat back/hips alignment.
  • VERY IMPORTANT: when meeting the box, you are still supporting the bar with proper, strong form.  I’ll let Joe Defranco, the Patron Saint of Box Squats, to explain further:

Now, if I weigh 225 lbs. and I sit my fat ass on the box/scale like I was sitting on my couch, the “scale” would read 225 lbs. (or very close to it). Next, I stand up and then sit back onto the box using proper box squat form. Once I reach the box, I pause. While “sitting” on the box, I tell them that even though I weigh 225 lbs., if the box were a scale, it would now read about 150 lbs. At this point, they can see that I’m “sitting” on the box differently than my first example.

  • Contact is brief and followed by an explosive push through the hips/glutes – speed and good form are key.  It’s similar to the violent explosion during a power clean, always executed with proper form.

So, putting it all together, it should look like the above video

TFOD – Dynamic Lower

  1. Z-Health Warmup
  2. Blackburns – 2.5lbs x 30sec each position
  3. Box Squat – 30 sec rest between sets, 10 sets of 2
    • 10 x 2 @ 225lbs
  4. Front Leg Raised Lunges (with kick)
    • 3 x 10 @ 20lb DBs
  5. Superset – 4 sets of:
    • Farmers Walk – 100lb DBs @ 20 yards, zig-zaging
    • Jump Rope – Running in place x 50 reps, 1 double-under

Quite simply an outstanding workout, and really have to agree with Louie on this one.  I felt very explosive blasting 225lbs around like it was nothing.  Farmers Walks + Jump ropes were quite a finisher too, leaving me fairly tired, but also working on that general work capacity.  Finished it all in around 45 minutes or so.

Live long and prosper


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