T Nation

Box Squat Form

  Hey all, was wondering if you could help me out with learning the infamous box squat. I don't have a video camera but I'll see if I can borrow one. In the mean time, if you guys could clear a few things up it would be a TREMENDOUS help.

   First off, I keep reading to "break" my hips first, then my knees. What in the world does this mean? Right now, I'm taking this to mean that I should bend at the waist first(sort of like a GM with straight legs) while forcing my ass back.

    Next up, on the descent I fall the last few inches. I can sit back with control until I'm almost to the box but then I feel my weight shift backwards. At this point, I can't stop the motion if you know what I mean. I don't exactly fall, but I can NOT stop and reverse the motion at this point, only ride it for a couple inches till I hit the box. Also, as I'm "falling" here, I roll back on my heels slightly and my toes sometimes come off the ground for a moment.

    Finally, I keep reading to "push with the head first". I don't get this, where do I move my head? I'm guessing I should be pushing it back but when I try to do this and ascend, I lose my balance and have to catch myself before I fall backwards. Luckily I'm not using any weight right now, just a broom handle to practice form or I surely would've had a serious accident by now... :(

     I have more problems than this in box squatting, but if I could fix these few problems while I try and get a video up, it would be great. 
     Thanks and best regards,
              SS

You do not want to start a box squat (or any squat) like a GM, period. The back should stay firm and relatively upright and the head pulling back like you’re trying to look at something just above the horizon. Bend forward at the waist and you immediately compromise your back.

Check this out for some textual help:

http://asp.elitefts.com/qa/default.asp?qid=4092&tid=102

Check this out for form from guys who know:

Hope this helps. Take care.

If you are falling the last few inches then either

  1. the weight is too heavy
    or
  2. your stance isn’t wide enough.

Box squats are done wide, wide wide. Feet past shoulder width wide.

Break from the hips means the instead of bending at the knees first, as most do, start bending from the hips - NOT the waist - the hips. Keep your chest out and head up and feel for the box with your ass.

Once on the box, relax the hip flexors (the part that draws your knee to your chest but keep the butt and hamstrings tight. No resting and rocking! Push with the glutes while keeping the head and chest up (which is what is meant by leading with the head).

Hope that’s helpful. Happy box squatting.

If you are falling onto the box, use a higher box that you don’t fall onto. As you get used to the movement, lower the box till you get to the height you want to use.

I would disagree about not starting like a good morning. I attended a seminar with Jim Wendler and that was exactly how he taught those who didn’t know how. You start with a good morning motion with the hips, but also go down and open the groin.

If you lose your balance backwards, lean forward more. You are staying too upright.

And watch that youtube video, it is awesome.

[quote]skidmark wrote:
If you are falling the last few inches then either

  1. the weight is too heavy
    or
  2. your stance isn’t wide enough.

Box squats are done wide, wide wide. Feet past shoulder width wide.

Break from the hips means the instead of bending at the knees first, as most do, start bending from the hips - NOT the waist - the hips. Keep your chest out and head up and feel for the box with your ass.
[/quote]

Uh… aren’t the hips=the waist? Of do you mean the lower back? Sorry, I’m confused.

Mattwray: I’ll try your advice, but could you shed some light on the theory behind it? Why is a beginner unable to do this at first? Just take a while to build up form???
Well thanks again guys,
SS

You are overthinking things. If you are falling back onto the box, you are sitting back too far and/or not leaning forward enough with your torso. Gravity still exists.

You need to watch the videos and see what those lifters do. They all have great technique(wide stance/ sit back/ stay tight/ open up hips which is knees out) but you will also notice they don’t fall onto the box. For the most part, they are squatting as if the box isn’t there and it just gets in the way at the bottom.

Squatting is very technical and will never be perfect, especially when weights get heavy in a comp. So try to emulate what the guys at westside are doing in the vid and find a gym where powerlifters train and know what they are doing.

It is something you will have “to get” on your own and learn the feeling. But the best help will be watching and being coached by those who know. Communicating on the net won’t do much, you gotta experience it.

Train hard

break at the hips = push your ass back, like you are trying to arch them like your lower back. in other words, push your ass back before you break your knees.

there seems to be a good part of a good morning in every squat, as you sit back, there is no other way to keep the weight a little bit in front of your heels (couple of centimeters) while you push your ass back.

watch some “squat Rx” videos on yotube for some exercises that will help you “activate” your gluteus and learn the technique.

i find squatting without weight is very different, there is just no weight to balance you out and you have to lean forward more or hold your hands in front of you, kind of like in a front squat.

[quote]vandalay15 wrote:
find a gym where powerlifters train and know what they are doing.[/quote]

That is the best thing you can do right there.

[quote]SpeedStrength wrote:
Hey all, was wondering if you could help me out with learning the infamous box squat. I don’t have a video camera but I’ll see if I can borrow one. In the mean time, if you guys could clear a few things up it would be a TREMENDOUS help.

   First off, I keep reading to "break" my hips first, then my knees. What in the world does this mean? Right now, I'm taking this to mean that I should bend at the waist first(sort of like a GM with straight legs) while forcing my ass back.

    Next up, on the descent I fall the last few inches. I can sit back with control until I'm almost to the box but then I feel my weight shift backwards. At this point, I can't stop the motion if you know what I mean. I don't exactly fall, but I can NOT stop and reverse the motion at this point, only ride it for a couple inches till I hit the box. Also, as I'm "falling" here, I roll back on my heels slightly and my toes sometimes come off the ground for a moment.

    Finally, I keep reading to "push with the head first". I don't get this, where do I move my head? I'm guessing I should be pushing it back but when I try to do this and ascend, I lose my balance and have to catch myself before I fall backwards. Luckily I'm not using any weight right now, just a broom handle to practice form or I surely would've had a serious accident by now... :(

     I have more problems than this in box squatting, but if I could fix these few problems while I try and get a video up, it would be great. 
     Thanks and best regards,
              SS[/quote]

Firsty this link should help:
http://www.westside-barbell.com/articles.htm
there’s several articles on there written about box squatting.

As far as falling the last few inches goes, you could try squatting to a taller box for a couple of weeks, then gradually reduce the height of the box as you improve.

[quote]elliotnewman1 wrote:
SpeedStrength wrote:
Hey all, was wondering if you could help me out with learning the infamous box squat. I don’t have a video camera but I’ll see if I can borrow one. In the mean time, if you guys could clear a few things up it would be a TREMENDOUS help.

   First off, I keep reading to "break" my hips first, then my knees. What in the world does this mean? Right now, I'm taking this to mean that I should bend at the waist first(sort of like a GM with straight legs) while forcing my ass back.

    Next up, on the descent I fall the last few inches. I can sit back with control until I'm almost to the box but then I feel my weight shift backwards. At this point, I can't stop the motion if you know what I mean. I don't exactly fall, but I can NOT stop and reverse the motion at this point, only ride it for a couple inches till I hit the box. Also, as I'm "falling" here, I roll back on my heels slightly and my toes sometimes come off the ground for a moment.

    Finally, I keep reading to "push with the head first". I don't get this, where do I move my head? I'm guessing I should be pushing it back but when I try to do this and ascend, I lose my balance and have to catch myself before I fall backwards. Luckily I'm not using any weight right now, just a broom handle to practice form or I surely would've had a serious accident by now... :(

     I have more problems than this in box squatting, but if I could fix these few problems while I try and get a video up, it would be great. 
     Thanks and best regards,
              SS

Firsty this link should help:
http://www.westside-barbell.com/articles.htm
there’s several articles on there written about box squatting.

As far as falling the last few inches goes, you could try squatting to a taller box for a couple of weeks, then gradually reduce the height of the box as you improve.

[/quote]

  Well, training at a gym, especially a hardcore one(if I could even find one), isn't exactly practical right now. I do have a decent set up however and will be getting some more goodies for my home gym! :)
   I've read just about everything on westside barbell's site along with elite-fts, but I'll try to read 'em all again just to see if I can soak up a bit more knowledge. Also, I'm still working on trying to get a video of myself as I know this would go a LOT easier if you guys could just see me and tell me what I'm doing wrong.
   Anyhow, I just picked up a nice bundle of Westside Barbell secrets videos on ebay. I got the squat workout, benchpress workout, benchpress secrets, and deadlift secrets, all for $56 with shipping! :) However, it looks like the -workout videos don't go over technique like the -secrets videos do. I've heard there is a Squat Secrets video that goes over the box squat form very well but can't see it on their site. Is there really a Squat Secrets video and if so, where can I get it? Also, what do you guys think of the ones I did get? Will the Squat Workout help me with technique much? 
          Thanks again,
               SS  

Look for the EliteFTS squat/deadlift exercise index.

http://www.flexcart.com/members/elitefts/default.asp?m=PD&cid=274&pid=981

[quote]mattwray wrote:
Look for the EliteFTS squat/deadlift exercise index.

http://www.flexcart.com/members/elitefts/default.asp?m=PD&cid=274&pid=981

[/quote]

  Will do, but what d'ya guys think about the Squatting Secrets vid? I guess crainsmuscleworld.com has it for $30. Also, does the EliteFTS squat index go over the box squat or mainly/completely just the competition back squat? I know EliteFTS is pro-Westside and all, but just wanna make sure.

  Also, I guess I 'unlocked' a small secret to the box-squat today. I really pushed my knees out hard today, as before I was just pushing my feet out mainly as I could feel it more than I could pushing my knees. I did push my feet out too though! Anyway, I didn't fall back at all and felt SO much more stable and strong. Note that I wasn't using any weight though, just the bar to practice form. I think it'll be a while till I try and max in the box squat! :)

A member of this site posted videos on YouTube called “Squat Rx”. They seem to be pretty good and insightful.

You should check them out.