T Nation

Box Squats


I coach high school softball and we started our conditioning program a few weeks ago. Other teams are in the weight room at the same time. I see the football players doing box squats in what seems to me to be an unusal manner. For one the box seems to be too high, but what really baffles me is that these guys sit down on the box and take both feet completely off the floor. They then jump off the box up onto both feet. It looks like about a 1/4 squat to me after the jump. When I do box squats with my girls I use a box that is closer to the floor and I tell them to squat down until they feel the box then to fire up, they don't actually "sit" on the box. Am I instructing this properly?


I initially started box squatting like that too. Then I figured out its just cause the box was way too high lol.

The only thing I think it may be good for is making you push out with your hips to initiate the squat. you cant push with your quads if your feet arent touching the floor!


Go to this website http://www.elitefts.com/ and do a search for box squatting. When box squating you don't want your feet coming off the ground nor do you want to use an extremely high box. It sounds like you are a lot closer to the correct box squatting form than the guys with the weird technique. You actually want to sit back on the box, relax for a moment and then explode up. There will be a better description on the site I mentioned. Good luck.


Neither is correct. Although your method is fine to use, there is no reason for a box to be there if you aren't sitting on it, right?

Set the box parallel, instruct the athlete to sit back (not squat) on the box. This does not mean to squat down and then rock back. The movement is initiate with the hips back. The knees should be inline with the ankles or behind. You should try to relax on the box but keep your air and tigthness. Then explode up, driving with the head first.


This post just appeared on the Elitefts q and a

when you box squat do u want to totally sit back, so that all of the weight is off of your feet and totally on your ass? Or do you always have tension in the hamstrings while at the bottom of the lift?

also, how long do u sit back on the box?

thanks alot,

Eric t.


Always keep tension on your hamstrings and don't let the weight shift totally off your feet. You should still be able to "feel" the ground.
Stay tight throughout the whole movement. You will sit on the box for maybe half a second (i don't know exactly... i've never timed it.) but it's not just a touch-and-go movement. the hips will slightly release on the box then flex hard to stand up.


With respect, I think everyone is kinda missing the big picture. WSB doesn't have the market cornered on so called "box squats". There are many uses for the box. It would be more accurate to say that neither you nor the football players you saw are doing a WSB box squat. And I do admit to know nothing about what the football players were doing although to me it may have been a modified jump squat - however, the lifting of the feet and thereby placing the entire load on the spine may not be the wisest thing to do depending on the load. That aside though....Sounds like you are using the box as a means to manage squat depth; there is nothing wrong with this and it is not necessarily wrong. You could use other tools to accomplish this but it doesn't make it wrong.

The WSB methodology is intended to break the stretch reflex by briefly sitting/pausing on the box, relaxing the hips and then exploding back up; it is intended to build explosive strength. A secondary benefit of the box, for the powerlifting especially, is that you are always ensured of hitting depth. In addition, a box teaches you to "sit back" into the squat which is the desired means, for some, of squatting powerlifting style. Other styles include sitting down and opening the hips/knees ala olympic style. But WSB doesn't always use a "legal squat" depth box. Variations include a very low box, high boxes and everything in between.

I guess I'm trying to say you need to know what you are trying to accomplish before you decide if something is "right" or "wrong" as there are acceptable variations on the box squat theme.

What are you trying to accomplish with your girls?


The reason I got the box out in the first place is that most of them have never lifted weights before and their form was not the best. I thought using the box would have been the easiest way to teach them to sit back. After I feel comfortable with their form I'll take the box away.


If I remember correctly, Bigger-Faster-Stronger recommends coming up onto your toes at the top of the box squat, and their boxes are pretty tall. As for feet off the floor at the bottom... sounds like a really bad idea to me.



Using the box to teach squatting technique is great (as long as sitting back is what you want then to do) Otherwise, setting depth with boxes is also useful!

I squat Olympic style as well as the more hip-involved wide stance sitting back WSB style. I'd imagine ball players could use both syles as well. And being women (right?) they could use a lot of unilateral leg work with full ROM for the ligaments associated with the knee.

Sitting back and pausing then flexing again to come up I believe teaches reversal strength. Exploding from a stop/semi relaxed state teaches explosive strength and usually uses relatively light (60%1RM give or take) loading. But then again, I'm all doped up on Day-Quil and I'm probably wrong.


This I completely agree with.

Bodyguard made a good post, but it's pretty much irrelevant.

Use the box to teach form (not to ensure depth) to sit back and focus on the posterior chain. You don't need to know much more that that.

I'd recommend multiple sets of low reps for beginners.


Coming up off your feet?

Sounds like a great way to injure yourself high box or not.

Box squat you should basically sit on the box gently, relax your hip flexors


And then Tighten them again and explode off the box.

It's not touch and go (unless you're doing it ONLY to teach depth)...it's not rocking on the box.


I've actually seen the track teams at my DIII college doing this. Their strength coach is the women's track coach and has a degree in exercise science, but appears to really know very little. She instructs them to do this (pick their feet off the floor) and the other day, the men's team was doing bicep eccentric training to failure. Go figure.


Box squatting a little below parallel and with a pause is not nearly as hard on me as regular squat because I'm typically using anywhere from 25-50lbs. less because of the increased ROM and the pause.


I did see a Bigger-Faster-Stronger magazine in the weightroom one day. I also heard the football coach tell one of his players to go up on his toes at the top of the squat. I may ask him where he learned that and if he has a book or something I can read about it.


Yes these are high school girls, most between the ages of 14-18 and most with little or no experience lifting. I have them alternate between lunges and step-ups each leg workout.



I can't testify as to what the guys you saw were doing. I will say that the development of plantar flexion (PF) strength is one of the most important, and sorely lacking, qualities in high school athletes. PF strength is a static strength that helps transfer power from your quads and posterior chain into the ground.

This is particularly the case with kids who squat a ton. They develop power in the lower range, but not at "toe-off", when they leave the ground. Personally, what they are doing (from your description) doesn't sound like a great way to fix this problem, I think a better/easier way is calf raise static holds at both extremes (plantar-flexed and dorsiflexed). I'll give those guys the benefit of the doubt and say they were trying to develop plantar flexion strength!