T Nation

Box Squats...

 Hi all,

this is my first post here and the topic- box squatting. I am a newbie to lifting though I've done my homework for quite a while, I've read up about all the theory I could find(sets, reps, exercises, nutrition, supplements.. the list goes on)

Anyhow, I've begun lifting around a week ago. I have decided that I will be using a slightly modified westside routine. Anyhow, I am having some trouble with box squats. I am pretty weak right now and very small so I have very little shoulder and upper back(trapezius?) development so holding the barbell on my back is very painful. Not to be wimpy but I am using a pad on the barbell now. However, since I can't see the center ring on the barbell(the pad has no indication of where the center is...), I tend to be a little off center on the bar so it is a little uneven.

To make matters worse, I also have trouble lining my feet up even and turned forward or atleast out slightly at the same angle. So, I am wondering if you guys can help me out: What can I do to make sure that my form and stance/placement of the bar is the same and even everytime?

      Thanks a ton guys!

P.S. I am not using much weight right now, I am practicing form for the next week or 2 depending how things go.


Look into maybe getting a manta ray. It's a device that hooks to the bar and is grooved to fit on your shoulders a little more comfortably. I use one for lockouts with very heavy weight. One suggestion for your feet placement, sit down on a chair, then put your feet down a couple of different ways then stand up. Which is more comfortable, which feels stronger, try many different ways. To me, box squats are one of the main food groups!


One of the best things you can do is start light......feel it out - if you've got some guy there who looks like he knows what he's doing, ask for some advice.....

But mostly, ease into it - you can really hurt yourself with squats if you throw on too much weight or have bad form.



re centering yourself

grab the bar around the power rings with the same finger on each ring(the lines on each side of the knurling and are equidistant from the center of the bar)

Now step away from the bar holding the bar still

when your arms lock your should be centered with the bar. Now step straight forward and under the bar.

You should be centered

if not, since you never let go of the powerrings, then you should be able to feel if you need to shift left or right.

correct as needed

unrack the bar


This may work, though I use a wider grip, I grip at the smooth part at the very ends, letting my indices' touch the knurling.

Also, none of this seems like it will work for my feet. If you guys need more explaining on my stance problems just tell me. I am kind of speeding through this. However, I got an idea. What if I find my best stance while seated and then pencil it onto a small sheet of cardboard and put my feet on that until I get into the "groove"?

Post any suggestions or advice! Please guys?


Probably too early to bump but at 101 views and only 3 replies(1, now 2, being from myself...) I could really use some help. I need some serious advice as to how I can fix my form. I think the mirrors at the gym are actually bent or curved as I look at the mirror and line my feet up straight(like I mean my feet are straight across from each other, not one in front at all) but I look down and one is usually way infront, usually the left way ahead of the right, by around 1.5".

Please guys, I don't mean to post so much but I am really clamoring for help over here as I have been working on my form for a week and a half now and its still awful. i want to start lifting heavy and actually start my routine! PLEASE, IF YOU CAN OFFER ANY ADVICE WHATSOEVER, PLEASE DO!

Hell, I'll take a simple "shut up, kid"!


I know it sucks, but lose the maxi pad and suck it up. Start doing shrugs and face pulls to help build up your upper back. Any type of pulls (deadlifts) will help with this as well.

Some people consistently line up the bar off to one side a little bit. In fact, I am sitting here thinking and it has been a long time since I have called somebody off the bar because they were out of line so badly I thought it was going to affect the set.

Bottom line, I have rarely seen it make much of a difference. If it is an inch or less, don't worry about it.

In regards to foot placement, you are over analyzing. I probably never set up with my feet perfectly in line and pointed at the same angle. Hell, I don't even look down when I walk out so I wouldn't even know. I do it entirely by feel.

More importantly, your body will shift and accomodate foot position. It really is not that big of a deal other than you may be a little crooked relative to the rack. So what? Unless you are off by several inches, you are fine.

If it really bothers you, put down two chalk lines on the floor, one for each foot, and work with this until you can put your feet within an inch or so on each side consistently.

Other than that, practice comes in the form of set after set, rep after rep. It really is that simple.


A couple of things:

I have an 11 year old I am teaching to squat and he can't do much weight either. I started him off on the cambered bar. 25lbs. There is no shame in trying to learn and certainly learning your form correctly on squats is the single MOST important thing you can do to stay healthy. Even doing it without the bar for form would be good. Watch some videos and try and emulate them and see what works for you stance wise. Read stuff by the masters on form. Ask folks at the gym who seem to know what they're doing to watch and critique you. Do some lunges and step ups to build your leg strength and do some GHR's or reverse hypers and stiff legged deads to build your lower back. Build the temple on a strong foundation.


Try this one out. This is how I adjusted to the box squat.

Set up your box, maybe a couple of inches above parallel, and just practice bodyweights squats to get your stance figured out. Then use a broomstick on your back to tighten up your form. Once you are comfortable, move up to the barbell. While you are doing this, leave your ego at the door.

By the time you achieve good balance, form, and technique with a barbell or light weight, THEN start your working sets back up. Might take multiple sessions, depending on whatever habits you may have, but stick it out. It will pay off.

I used to have one hell of a time getting the box squat pulled off. I read an article from Dave Tate when he addressed this exact problem, so I tried it, and it worked! I've managed to teach a couple of people to box squat with this method.

I also use bodyweight squats standing facing a wall, standing right up against the wall to keep me from leaning too far forward. The stance for the barbell squats from a box comes with practice.


I agree with everything above. Lose the pad and it won't take long to get used to just having the bar, especially if you're staying light to practice form. It doesn't get any easier to lose the pad later once you're used to it. If you have to keep the pad (not recommended) try putting a piece of tape in the center of it. Then line that up on the center of the bar and duck your head under that.

You're over analyzing the feet. Just have a shoulder width or wider stance and do what feels comfortable. If you're flexible shoulder width with toes straight ahead might be fine, if you're not that flexible you may need to widen it and angle your toes out. Just keep practicing and it will start to come naturally.



I never said I can't do much weight... But you are correct. I am practicing with an empty bar but when I throw on some weight, my form seems to get better and smoother and I fidget around with foot placement and such less. Also, over the last week, I've done at least 100+ sets of triples with an empty bar. I've been working on my deadlift form too though, SD and romanian. I would ask people to help me but noone at my gym knows $hit. My power rack(what I call it as noone else goes near it except for dumbell curling and the occasional swissball crunches.....) is on carpet so should I just throw chalk marks down when noone is looking? It sounds like a good idea. Well, thanks so far guys, post anything you can! I'll be waiting... seriously, I have nothing else to do.



Try holding the bar lower on your back. I think a lot of people want to sit the bar on top of their shoulders and that hurts like hell. I hold it very low, almost across my shoulders and think of "bending the bar over my back." It also helps keep my upper body tight. Also, keep working at it, a lot of problems with from are just a result of being weak. It has taken me a while (a few months) to get the form down and mine isn't even perfect yet. Just keep working through it and don't worry if your form isn't perfect, as you get stronger it will correct itself as long as you are working on it.


Lose the pad. It screws up form and can actually cause havoc on your shoulders. You will eventually get used to the bar. Another option is a cambered bar.

This is long term, but it really helps to build up your upper back/yolk area. Once your traps and upper back start to thicken, you wont be bothered by the weight very much. There's a good article on this on elitefts.com by Jim Wendler. Also, you could read Kelso's Shrug Book and you will know everything you need to know about beefing up this area.


I think you should just frickin' squat.

Quit thinking so much.


I'd love to... But my form is awful. Thus, I came here for help. I appreciate your reply, though. I will be going to the gym in 30min.(its an off day so time is way different for it).


Patience, Grasshopper.

It will come together. Try to focus on one thing at a time. Get it down, and move to the next.

Good luck.


You need to find guys in your area that are already box-squatting and get w/ them and train. I'm sure there must be someone willing to help you out. Try to find a powerlifter in your gym and ask them. Dave Tate wrote a good article here in T-Nation on Box squatting.

One thing you will learn about them is that you'll work on your form the rest of your life. Check some powerlifting sites and see if there are any seminars in your area. Now take that GOD DAMN maxi pad off the bar and feel the steel in your skin. Squat Heavy.


A. NOBODY around box squats. Seriously, I'm a friggin' outcast at my gym. I have tried to talk to some of the "powerlifters" there but many are very mistaken(high reps are great for strength!!!... NOT).

B. I have read many articles by the westside/elitefts guys, here and at westside's site and elitefts' site.

C.Today I actually dropped the pad and it felt ok with just bar weight. I let it sit on my trapezius and it doesn't touch my shoulders, it sits just in front of them. VERY nice. I now sit very far back, not down. I hope I'm not going too far back though.


If you have the $$ buy the squat/deadlift exercise index DVD from elitefts.com. It shows everything you need to know about box squatting in great detail.


Is it really that good? I guess I could pull together the cash as I'm sure it'll benefit me more than supplements... but nonetheless, someone who owns it, let me know a bit more detail(the site doesn't say too much).