T Nation

Box Squatting for Raw Lifters

For improving a raw squat, is it more beneficial to sit as far back as possible on the box or perform the rep as if you were doing a normal raw squat? Why?

What has worked better for you?

The point is increased glute involvement, just as it is for equipped lifters; however, if you’re raw, you won’t be able to lean as far back as if you had gear(no support), so you’ll be using as much of your glutes as possible yet still a significant amount of your quads relative to a suited lifter.

I’ve found a big increase in my numbers from doing box-work raw, I just stick my butt back as far as it will go (maintaining a tight arch and driving my heels apart), and I can definitely feel my glutes taking over on the lift. I do it wide-stance, mind you… Box squats must be done farther forward if you’re using a traditional stance.

Normal squats without emphasis on sticking your ass back, will inevitably rely more on quadricep strength than the alternative, to my knowledge and anecdote. I’ve never found my butt working very much if I don’t emphasize sticking it backwards, so I’ll attribute the new technique to the rapid short-term increase in numbers.

what can be good is setting a box that lets you squat below or at parralell go down slow sitting back to it, tap it and go up, also as a raw squatter i dont think you can sit back as far as everyone says, i think thats more for gear

If you squat raw, box squating will not help your squat. No matter how you sit on it. It’s good for variation when you need a change but shouldnt be a staple movement for developing your raw squat. Because it wont.

[quote]StormTheBeach wrote:
If you squat raw, box squating will not help your squat. No matter how you sit on it. It’s good for variation when you need a change but shouldnt be a staple movement for developing your raw squat. Because it wont.[/quote]

Enough with this nonsense. Getting strong on box squats will lead to getting strong on free squats. Are you really trying to dispute that or is your point that doing box squats but not getting stronger doesn’t lead to stronger free squats? Either way, very keen logic. If you spent a year box squatting with the same weights and your free squat didn’t go up, then newsflash: your problem wasn’t the box squats.

I’ve personally seen a 19 year old 181 lb lifter take his squat from ~440 to a 530 raw squat in competition in under a year with the vast majority of his squatting being done to a box.

Do you HAVE to box squat? Absolutely not. Your point, however was that “box squats won’t do anything for your raw squat” and this entirely untrue.

To bignate:

Is that how you always box squat? Don’t you think pausing at the bottom is a least a useful variation?

To StormTheBeach

I’ve seen some pretty drastic improvement in my squat using box squat exclusively for a few months, but it was also at the time I was working on widening my stance out. That’s not to say that box squats work as well for everyone, to which you can attest.

I agree and disagree with beach. It’s not something I’d do every single time I squat (I do lots of regular squat work, squats with chains, speed squats, etc.), but I’ve found a big difference since I’ve incorporated them. They certainly helped my technique moreso than anything, so I’d reccomend them to any novice, and I’ve had beginner friends whose poundages went up far beyond what you could expect from newbie gains alone, just by varying the way they squat.

I’m wondering if anyone else has really used box squats for a time, and not found an increase in numbers. If so, did you have what we’d consider “optimal” technique before you started using them, or develop anything after? Personally, I’m still advocating their use as a technique builder, and to add variety to your squats.

[quote]Stronghold wrote:

[quote]StormTheBeach wrote:
If you squat raw, box squating will not help your squat. No matter how you sit on it. It’s good for variation when you need a change but shouldnt be a staple movement for developing your raw squat. Because it wont.[/quote]

Enough with this nonsense. Getting strong on box squats will lead to getting strong on free squats. Are you really trying to dispute that or is your point that doing box squats but not getting stronger doesn’t lead to stronger free squats? Either way, very keen logic. If you spent a year box squatting with the same weights and your free squat didn’t go up, then newsflash: your problem wasn’t the box squats.

I’ve personally seen a 19 year old 181 lb lifter take his squat from ~440 to a 530 raw squat in competition in under a year with the vast majority of his squatting being done to a box.

Do you HAVE to box squat? Absolutely not. Your point, however was that “box squats won’t do anything for your raw squat” and this entirely untrue.[/quote]

I think this rumor got started because a lot of people don’t squat to a box that’s at or below their raw depth. So when they then try to hit a raw squat below parallel they find that they haven’t gotten much stronger (if at all) in that ROM and get buried in the hole.

Personally, I think that sitting and resting on the box is much more difficult than squatting normally. It teaches you to stay tight into and out of the hole, or the weight will crumple you like a wet newspaper. This is a valuable lesson to learn for both geared and raw lifters.

That being said, the box squat has never been a staple in my training. It is a useful variation that has its place in a well planned training cycle. But for raw and even single ply lifters, I think that practicing the lift you are competing in should comprise the majority of your training.

For those who have suggested that box squatting is useful for raw lifters in small doses and not all the time, do you find that using box squats for every speed day is acceptable still? If the box is at paralel depth?

The utility of the raw box squat for raw squatting depends on how it’s done IMHO. As Steel Nation observed if you don’t squat to a box that uses the same range of motion or slightly more than your regular raw squat you’ll get buried in the hole.

Likewise, if you squat to a good box depth, but rock and/or relax the hips and rest on the box at the bottom like some coaches have advocated it will bury you because you are not training to stay tight in the hole as is required for a good free squat.

On the other hand I find it very useful and do it regularly. I also find it easier on my hips than wide stance raw free squatting so I can do more work without hurting myself or developing soft tissue issues.

I think there’s two different “versions” of the box squat. Squatting to a box and box squatting. The first is great to measure your depth. The BOX SQUAT is great if you’re being honest with yourself about the box height. Personally, i squat far more without a box than with it. I feel that if youre going to squat raw, just ditch the box. You’ll get the hamstring/ glute strength in the hole that youre looking for. This is just my opinion and what works for me however.

[quote]Stronghold wrote:

[quote]StormTheBeach wrote:
If you squat raw, box squating will not help your squat. No matter how you sit on it. It’s good for variation when you need a change but shouldnt be a staple movement for developing your raw squat. Because it wont.[/quote]

Enough with this nonsense. Getting strong on box squats will lead to getting strong on free squats. Are you really trying to dispute that or is your point that doing box squats but not getting stronger doesn’t lead to stronger free squats? Either way, very keen logic. If you spent a year box squatting with the same weights and your free squat didn’t go up, then newsflash: your problem wasn’t the box squats.

I’ve personally seen a 19 year old 181 lb lifter take his squat from ~440 to a 530 raw squat in competition in under a year with the vast majority of his squatting being done to a box.

Do you HAVE to box squat? Absolutely not. Your point, however was that “box squats won’t do anything for your raw squat” and this entirely untrue.[/quote]

Anything will make a 19 year olds squat go up. He could have been on a “sissy” squat program and still gained 90lbs. I am talking from personal experience with myself and the 50 or so other athletes I have seen go through the same thing. Box squatting is good if A. your form is fucking terrible or B. you squat in gear. I’ve done my share of box squats for the past year or so and have seen very little improvement in my own raw and even single ply squat. Box squatting requires a much greater use of the hamstrings and completely negects the quadraceps (the main squating muscles without gear). Thats a fact. If you think I am making this shit up, go on EliteFTS and search for box squatting for raw squats. Wendler says basically the same thing.

As far as speed work goes, it must me done on a box, regardless of raw or equpped. I was talking about max effort work being near worthless if you raw squat.

I’ve gotten a 670 raw squat in competition as a junior about a year and a half ago. Box squats for max effort work caused that to stagnate and go down. Being a box squat nazi, like you, caused the lift to suffer. My deadlift, on the other hand, got fucking ridiculous using ME box squats.

To StormtheBeach:

In a standard Westside template, the ME lower body days are supposed to improve both squats and deadlifts. Taking this into consideration, would it not be acceptable to include some box squat variations such as narrow stance low box squats (for quad strength on squats) and wider stance box squats (to bring up the deadlift)?

I believe the recommendation for a westside template is to use a narrow stance on ME work and and wider stance on dynamic work, but still inside a competition stance. Obviously this is directed at a geared lifter who uses a very wide stance, but doesn’t it still make sense for a raw competitor? Or do you recommend just rotating regular squats and deads for ME work and leaving boxes out altogether on ME days?

And since you do recommend box squats on speed days, how do you sit on the box for speed work?

I’m not trying to be argumentative. I’m just trying to make sure I have your point nailed down.

[quote]StormTheBeach wrote:

[quote]Stronghold wrote:

[quote]StormTheBeach wrote:
If you squat raw, box squating will not help your squat. No matter how you sit on it. It’s good for variation when you need a change but shouldnt be a staple movement for developing your raw squat. Because it wont.[/quote]

Enough with this nonsense. Getting strong on box squats will lead to getting strong on free squats. Are you really trying to dispute that or is your point that doing box squats but not getting stronger doesn’t lead to stronger free squats? Either way, very keen logic. If you spent a year box squatting with the same weights and your free squat didn’t go up, then newsflash: your problem wasn’t the box squats.

I’ve personally seen a 19 year old 181 lb lifter take his squat from ~440 to a 530 raw squat in competition in under a year with the vast majority of his squatting being done to a box.

Do you HAVE to box squat? Absolutely not. Your point, however was that “box squats won’t do anything for your raw squat” and this entirely untrue.[/quote]

Anything will make a 19 year olds squat go up. He could have been on a “sissy” squat program and still gained 90lbs. I am talking from personal experience with myself and the 50 or so other athletes I have seen go through the same thing. Box squatting is good if A. your form is fucking terrible or B. you squat in gear. I’ve done my share of box squats for the past year or so and have seen very little improvement in my own raw and even single ply squat. Box squatting requires a much greater use of the hamstrings and completely negects the quadraceps (the main squating muscles without gear). Thats a fact. If you think I am making this shit up, go on EliteFTS and search for box squatting for raw squats. Wendler says basically the same thing.

As far as speed work goes, it must me done on a box, regardless of raw or equpped. I was talking about max effort work being near worthless if you raw squat.

I’ve gotten a 670 raw squat in competition as a junior about a year and a half ago. Box squats for max effort work caused that to stagnate and go down. Being a box squat nazi, like you, caused the lift to suffer. My deadlift, on the other hand, got fucking ridiculous using ME box squats.[/quote]

First of all, I’m not a “box squat nazi”. I’m someone intelligent enough to realize that box squats strengthen the muscles used in squatting. You seem very much to be about dogmas and less about results. That’s cool, but avoid serving up dogma to those interested in results. It’s dishonest.

I think you missed the point. This was not a kid putting 90 lbs on his squat and going from 225 to 315. He achieved a 3x bw squat in under a year of box squatting. I suppose this is something that any 19 year old should be able to do on any program, huh? A 3x bw raw squat is an exceptional level of strength at any age, and at 19 it is especially outstanding.

The quadriceps ARE involved in box squatting and box squats have a direct carryover to a raw squat as long as the stance is “athletic width” or wider. Of course if you have your athletes squatting with a super close stance and their knees 12 inches over their toes then I can see box squats not carrying over, but unless you are coaching olympic lifters, that would mean you are already a terrible coach.

If you want to do some actual thinking for yourself, go look at the number of years Wendler spent box squatting before deciding they were worthless for raw strength. Jim is a cool guy and we have talked about this before, but if you think he built the base of his strength on 5/3/1 doing raw squats, then you are being intellectually dishonest. If you go back into some of his older writings, he even gives arguments for WHY athletes should box squat.

There are no bad exercises, just bad programming and bad coaching.

[quote]Steve the PLer wrote:
To StormtheBeach:

In a standard Westside template, the ME lower body days are supposed to improve both squats and deadlifts. Taking this into consideration, would it not be acceptable to include some box squat variations such as narrow stance low box squats (for quad strength on squats) and wider stance box squats (to bring up the deadlift)?

I believe the recommendation for a westside template is to use a narrow stance on ME work and and wider stance on dynamic work, but still inside a competition stance. Obviously this is directed at a geared lifter who uses a very wide stance, but doesn’t it still make sense for a raw competitor? Or do you recommend just rotating regular squats and deads for ME work and leaving boxes out altogether on ME days?

And since you do recommend box squats on speed days, how do you sit on the box for speed work?

I’m not trying to be argumentative. I’m just trying to make sure I have your point nailed down.[/quote]

Why would you use a narrow stance low box squat to train your quads when there’s better ways of doing it? I assume the only reason someone would is cos they have a hard on for box squats… It makes no sense.

[quote]StormTheBeach wrote:

I’ve gotten a 670 raw squat in competition as a junior about a year and a half ago. Box squats for max effort work caused that to stagnate and go down. Being a box squat nazi, like you, caused the lift to suffer. My deadlift, on the other hand, got fucking ridiculous using ME box squats.[/quote]

You said that box squats are totally worthless for the raw squat. He disagreed, so that makes him a “box squat Nazi.” Please explain why the only two possible positions are:

a) all box squat all the time
b) never box squat

Nothing in his response would lead me to believe that he’s in camp A. Maybe he’s just GASP disagreeing with your extreme statement, not advocating box squats over everything else.

Storm, if you are a strength coach, then surely you understand the classification of means?

http://www.elitefts.com/documents/classification_of_the_means.pdf

Hanley:

I do narrow stance low box squats because:

  1. I can keep the bar on my back instead of on my shoulders
  2. It helps me stay tight at the bottom of the squat
  3. It’s a recommended ME movement on the Westside Seminar DVD
  4. And yes, I do “have a hard on” for box squats.

What is so absurd about using it as a squat variation with an emphasis on the quads? What exactly do you recommend?

I can’t believe I got sucked into this. Forget it. Just box squat. I don’t fucking care how anyone else lifts. Instead of wasting anymore time on this on the internet, I am going to go get stronger in real life.

[quote]Steve the PLer wrote:
Hanley:

I do narrow stance low box squats because:

  1. I can keep the bar on my back instead of on my shoulders
  2. It helps me stay tight at the bottom of the squat
  3. It’s a recommended ME movement on the Westside Seminar DVD
  4. And yes, I do “have a hard on” for box squats.

What is so absurd about using it as a squat variation with an emphasis on the quads? What exactly do you recommend?[/quote]

Because it is a squat variation that is not supposed to use much quads, some, but its more for the glutes, hips, hamstrings and posterior chain. Louie Simmons on the Super Training Seminar, Compared the movement to a leg curl.

I dont see how going wide for low box squats doesnt make you tighter, the lower you go the more you use more stretch reflex. If you lose your tightness, then you either probably dont have very good mobility, or you just dont stay tight enough.

And why did you say you use the Conjuate method for Raw lifting?