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Box Squats for Raw Lifters


Hey guys,

I'm curious how many of you compete raw, but use box squats in your training.

Personally, I used to find a poor carry-over between box squats and free squats. However, I had a lot of technique errors in my squat - I was very quad dominant and had very weak hips and poor glute activation. Don't even get me started with my crazy lumbar rounding, either... I did nothing but box squats in training, and when it came time for me to test my free squat 1RM, it was like an entirely different lift. At the time, I thought box squats were just bad for raw lifters, but I now realize that I might have had a lot more carry-over if I had addressed my technique flaws.

I feel like box squatting might be good for reinforcing proper technique cues. Would you guys generally agree that a free squat for a raw lifter should look very similar to a box squat?

What do you guys think?


I strongly feel box squats have a great carry over to my squat. The key is to check your ego and do them right. If you can box squat more than you can free squat, you're doing it wrong. The biggest mistake I see is people rocking forward and trying to predominantly use their quads on a movement that should almost exclusively be a pc exercise. I also see people box squatting real high too.


I love box squatting for raw squatting. I almost always start peaking cycles with box squats and do them for about 5 weeks. They transfer well to both squats and pulls.


I just started doing narrow stance high bar squat to a high box. I try to mimic my deadlift motion as close as I can. Feel like it's working for me.


I love Box Squats. Make my hams and hips cry. But more importantly, they have really help with my form and technique while squatting.




I've actually found they are aren't as helpful for raw squatting as equipped lifting. One of the hardest parts of a raw SQ is stopping your descent and reversing the motion to start upward. You don't train this aspect with a box SQ. I think they can be OK as an assistance movement while keeping the free SQ as your main movement. I certainly wouldn't use them as your exclusive form of squatting for any length of time. If you do use them, your form should look exactly like a free SQ otherwise your carryover will likely be minimal.


All of these replies are far too sensible.



Can't really imagine "sitting back onto a box" without doing so in training. They're great.


I think this largely depends on the individual. Some people are naturally going to be very efficient at utilizing the stretch-shortening cycle and some won't. If you're naturally good at it you shouldnt have a need to practice it, so box squats might be a good addition.


Probably a flexibility issue too. Box squats brought my free squat down when I did them as a main movement, but then again I'm terribly inflexible and had a hard time sitting on the box under control. As you said, they're probably not for everyone in terms of raw lifting and it's up to the individual, but they're great for reinforcing the movement pattern.


I miss my squats extremely high (look at this travesty)

I've found high box squats to be more difficult for me in some cases than free squats so they can have a role as assistance work for some lifters.


For what it is worth... I find that setting up the box 1-2 inches below parallel and then staying tight and just touching the box with your butt to be incredibly effective. Not really box squatting, but you know you are hitting depth every time and you have to keep your form very tight. I like straight up box squatting sometimes too though.


That's because once you came out of the hole you tried to 'stand up' with the weight instead of pushing your hips forward.

This is one thing that box squatting with contrast can help. It teaches to drive the hips fast and keep your belly in front of you because if you don't, once fatigue sets in, you end up doing what you did in the video.

I am one of those guys who can box squat a lot more than free so I don't use them very much. Years ago Wendler told me I was using the box as a crutch and he's probably right.


I think that box squats can give great results. But the box needs to be low, at least breaking parallel. And your form needs to be the same as a real squat or else it doesnt really carry over to full squats. I personall like to do slightly higher reps when doin box squats, in the 5-8 range. And if im feelin fiesty ill go up to 10-12 with MAYBE 50-55% of my max


[quote]apwsearch wrote:

That's because once you came out of the hole you tried to 'stand up' with the weight instead of pushing your hips forward.


excellent point


There's been some really good discussion going on in this thread.

One thing I want to point out is the point SRS makes:

I tend to miss my squats right at the bottom, and I definitely found this to be the case. Furthermore, when I switched from box squats back to free-weight squats, I had a lot of issues with my adductors. I attribute this mostly to the fact that box squats don't require any "stabilization" and the reversal of direction is broken by sitting on a box.

With that in mind, Jakerz brings up a good idea about using the box to keep the form tight and hit a constant depth. I think I might give that a try.


I think the touch and go box SQ could be fine provided you aren't bouncing off the box. It could certainly help those who tend to cut depth as the weight gets heavier. I'm not sure why a box SQ would make your form better beyond the intial stages of learning to squat though. You have to learn to SQ without a box eventually so why not just work on that skill specifically. Ultimately you will have to experiment a bit and see what works best for you. There are strong people who love box squats and strong people who don't, so obviously there's not necessarily one "right" way.


This is me as well -- my best box squat outstrips my best raw free squat by about 70 pounds.


I think it has more to do with how wide a stance the lifter uses. I have competed using both the 'high-bar/narrow stance' and the 'low-bar' wide stance style. I never thought the box squat did much for my narrow stance squat and found that 'pausing' reps in the hole was more effective. While using a wide stance I thought the box-squat had more carry-over.