T Nation

Free or Box Squats?


I was just curious to get a general poll of what's the stronger lift for you, as I've seen it go both ways with lifters. My box squats are 30lbs up on my free squats even though I've been squatting for 2 years and only started box squats about a month ago. I wasn't surprised, though, as my posterior chain tends to be stronger than my quads.


i guess most people are going to end up having a stronger squat in which they train more often.


I'm with you OP my below parallel box squat is stronger than my normal squat. I think it's from the box giving a solid stop for the squat. When you free squat you have to put the breaks on your self.


My free squat is definitely stronger than my box squat, although i havent maxed a box squat in awhile its probably about 40 pounds less


I mostly do mostly box squats and the box squats are usually about 0.9BSQ/1.0FSQ same depth. I think a lot of it has to do with how long your on the box and if you let your hips relax and how far back you go. On box squats, my shins are perpendicular to the ground and on speed, light sets my knees are behind perpendicular.


You must have a pretty wide stance then. My free squat is way stronger than my box squat. Probably by about 30-40 lbs.


Very wide. I keep my BSQ stance almost out to my sumo stance (toes about an inch getting crushed by plates) but not quite, and my free squat a couple inches in from my box squat. That ratio was saying my box squat is 90+/-2% of my free squat.


Box squats are between 100 and 150 pounds less than free squats for me. I use them as a main exercise in the early portion of a training cycle and then thereafter to test gains in the squat without burning out on max effort free squats. If I can get a weight off a slightly below parallel box, I can get 100 pounds or more of carryover in a meet. Hitting that same weight with light bands tells me I'll definitely hit it + 150lbs.


In my experience, most people that box squat more then they free squat are likely box squatting poorly and using their quads to lift the weight instead of sitting back onto the box and keeping their shins perpendicular to the ground. Or they are box squatting higher than their free squat.


And rocking there hips on the box.


It only makes sense. If you're talking about a dead-stop box squat (and not just using the box as a depth gauge), I think it's somewhat comparable to a paused bench, and I don't think anyone does more on a paused bench. For me I lost something like 30 pounds from my free squat when I did a cycle of box squatting, and I seriously doubt I'll ever do them again. It also depends on whether you are talking about raw or geared lifting.


I can't help but wonder if box squat carry over has to do with stance width as well. My tentative theory is that since box squats are primarily posterior chain, they work better for someone who uses a low-bar wide-stance squat then someone who squats narrower. What's your free-squat stance and bar placement out of curiosity?


If you were talking to me, I free squat slightly wider than shoulder width (and my shoulders are pretty narrow), with toes angled out at 30-45 degrees. I use a medium bar-placement. While box squatting, my stance was slightly wider and bar-placement the same. It's worth noting that my posterior chain strength was a weakness and I had trouble sitting down under control, but that's why I was doing them in the first place. But yea, your reasoning is sound IMO. At the time of the switch I was at 350 for 4, after I was all the way down to 325x3, then pushed up to 400x3, but weakness in the posterior chain caused my squat to go all over the place. Since hammering GHRs, I just did 400x4 easily and controlled, so long story short, I would say GHRs are better for a me as a narrowish raw squatter.


This. I can not believe how many lifts can't do the box squat right.


That's what I just started doing. Glad to hear the carryover is so good.