T Nation

High Box or Low Box Squats

I posted this question in my training log. But being im the only one to post there I figured Id ask may question here.

should I do high box squats on ME days and low box on DE days or vice versa. I’ve been using only a low box so farand was thinking that a change in depth might benifit. Ive read were most power lifters very there box size.
Thanks Mike

I’m not all that experienced but I think you are looking at the box squat in the wrong way. Box squats are used to work weak points in your lift. Failing at the bottom, low box squat, failing in the middle or top, high box squat. ME and DE are all about maximal and dynamic effort and I could see how both a high box squat and a low box squat could be either maximal or dynamic depending on weight and such.

At westside they generally will use a box at or around parallel for speed work. For ME days refer to what Obey said, work on wherever your weak, if your weak everywhere in your squat(like me) then go to a low box.

i agree the low box is amazing for getting out of hole!!!
but also i have trouble gettign used to high weights and just started using half squats to a box which i have hit close to 500 (regular squat a little over 315) and this has helped so far for me
so do both :slight_smile:
good luck

[quote]0bey wrote:
Box squats are used to work weak points in your lift. [/quote]

I disagree. A box squat should generally be done at, or slightly below, parallel, so that the lifter develops a consistent feel for depth and develops explosive power out of the hole.

Does anybody actually fail halfway up a squat? If so, was it for any other reason than you weren’t strong out of the hole or you fell forward?

I’ve only used box squats for maximum strength type days, so its usually parallel or slightly above.

I rarely use anything though and just do normal olympic back/front squats.

Its probably best to try both and see how it works for you.

Thanks for all the replies. So ill try a low box on DE days and work on speed out of the hole. On ME days ill go to a parallel box or slightly below and work up to a new pr every week. Yes I am weak everywhere. I agree with jtrinsey that most squats are lost in the hole. thanks for all your help.

Sounds good. Remember too its ok even good to mix up the height from time to time. Chains and bands can be very effective aids for training acceleration out of the hole

[quote]saps wrote:
Remember too its ok even good to mix up the height from time to time. [/quote]

I’m not trying to pick a fight here but I do not understand this. Perhaps it is something I am misunderstanding. Why would you want to change the height of the box? I don’t get what effect that would have other than messing up technique because you are not squatting to the same depth every time?

Same reason you have 1,2,3,4,5 and 6 board presses. Same reason you rack pull from the shins or the knees or standing on a 2" box or with 35’s instead of 45’s. Same reason you do DB bench.

If you use a box 2" below parallel that’s great for firing out of the hole. But in competition you aren’t going 2" below parallel. There is great benefit to variety in training as well as conditioning yourself thru various sticking points and/or to maximize leverage. If you are a lifter who uses gear like wraps, briefs or a suit partial range training becomes even more necessary.

I mean is technique different from a 10" box to a 16" box it sure is. My form is completely different when I do 5 board press or rack lockouts as compared with a full range move. But I’m strengthening that part of my lift/body when I do that specific lift

Someone correctly pointed out that on DE days, the box is at or below parallel to reinforce depth and greasing the groove so to speak. That does not mean a box cannot be used for other purposes, much the same as multiple boards. I would not however, use a higher box on DE days because you want to work dynamically thru the full ROM.

Yes, you can absolutely fail at ANY point above the hole in a max effort squat. I see some people here have never spotted at a PL meet or otherwise attended one. A higher box can be used to address specific weaknesses (although there are probably other means either equal to or superior to do the same) or, it can be used to overload and get a feel for some heavier weights you otherwise cannot do full ROM.

The key is to know WHY you are using whatever methodology you choose. There is really no benefit to change box sizes just to “change things up”. If you’re training for PL, you want to stay with a box at legal depth. You’re going to get that answer b/c the popularity of the box squat (its recent reemergence) came from a decidely PL background gym (WS). If you want to “change things up”, you want to add bands, chains, different bars, wave load your DE work, your ME work, etc. But if you’re training for PL, and you box squat, no need to go higher than legal on DE day.

As for addressing weaknesses by means other than a higher box, there are a host of special exercises that will fit assuming you correctly diagnose your weakness.

So, after that long winded (sorry) response, yes, you can raise the box, but do so with the correct purpose for your training goals. PL’s DO take higher box squats on ME day.

Good luck.

Steve

I am weak throughout the movement. But my weakest point is at the bottom. So my thinking is DE work on the low box to build explosiveness and speed and High box on ME days to push heavy and build strength. Im working towards a meet in sept first time to compete. At 41 im not going to set any records but I can still train like im gonna.
Everyone that competes at my gym are all bench competitors. For me I want to do the whole ball of wax.

saps and TBG,

I appreciate your posts. I have never competed in powerlifting, my training is for athletics. So my understanding of powerlifting training is limited to reading and watching video. My max squat is only 405 so I am far from advanced in terms of squatting.

Interesting stuff.

[quote]jmkb1 wrote:
I am weak throughout the movement. But my weakest point is at the bottom. So my thinking is DE work on the low box to build explosiveness and speed and High box on ME days to push heavy and build strength. Im working towards a meet in sept first time to compete. At 41 im not going to set any records but I can still train like im gonna.
Everyone that competes at my gym are all bench competitors. For me I want to do the whole ball of wax.[/quote]

Well, the above appears to be a little poorly thought out. Remember, strength gains in a specific joint angle or ROM have poor carry over to the rest of the movement. It’s not quite as simple as getting stronger in a high box squat will make my full rom squat stronger.

First, weaknesses are all relative to where YOU fail in any given lift, at any given weight, no matter how strong you are. Your “weaknesses”, as you get stronger, will be a moving target.

You need to find your present point of failure, and address the specific muscle group that caused the failure with special work and excercises.

So, presently, for you, you want to address/work those muscles responsible for getting you out of the hole (hips, low back, etc.). You are unlikely to address that (in an ideal fashion) with high box squats.

Just some of my quick thoughts. good luck.

Steve

When I miss squats I tend to miss them about 6+ inches above parallel. I don’t fall forward, just run out of steam.

Anyone got any ideas what’s going on and how to fix it…?

You’d really have to see it to know. You can always throw out some bodyparts based on where you lose a lift but those are generalities b/c there could be things happening BEFORE that point that cause you to lose it where you do.

I know Tate and those guys are great at giving those opinions sight unseen and they are probably generally right (hey, it’s not rocket science - we all know the prime movers in the squat), but I’d say your best bet is just to get someone experienced to watch you and give an opinion. Or, you can post a vid on here and solicit an opinion.

I do have one disclaimer though; I’m not sure of the value of too much specialized work for guys that just need to get stronger in general period. If your squat isn’t fairly advanced, I think you’d do yourself a bigger favor by just getting all those prime movers stronger. I wouldn’t neglect that strategy in favor of special work unless I was fairly advanced. Just my opinion though and I have no idea of your level.

Good luck with it though!

Go to Elite and read all their stuff and you’ll come away with some good ideas of why you’re failing where you are. You can’t go wrong with reading as much of their stuff as you can absorb as it will always be useful.

Thanks bodyguard for all your insight its appreciated. and your correct i just need to get stronger everywhere. So maybe im better off keeping both days off the 11inch box and just work on kickin the wt ass. The reason I like the box so much is for proper technique. teaching me to sit back and manage my depth.

[quote]TheBodyGuard wrote:
You’d really have to see it to know. You can always throw out some bodyparts based on where you lose a lift but those are generalities b/c there could be things happening BEFORE that point that cause you to lose it where you do.

I know Tate and those guys are great at giving those opinions sight unseen and they are probably generally right (hey, it’s not rocket science - we all know the prime movers in the squat), but I’d say your best bet is just to get someone experienced to watch you and give an opinion. Or, you can post a vid on here and solicit an opinion.

I do have one disclaimer though; I’m not sure of the value of too much specialized work for guys that just need to get stronger in general period. If your squat isn’t fairly advanced, I think you’d do yourself a bigger favor by just getting all those prime movers stronger. I wouldn’t neglect that strategy in favor of special work unless I was fairly advanced. Just my opinion though and I have no idea of your level.

Good luck with it though!

Go to Elite and read all their stuff and you’ll come away with some good ideas of why you’re failing where you are. You can’t go wrong with reading as much of their stuff as you can absorb as it will always be useful.[/quote]

Thanks for that… I think my squat’s fairly ok. It’s moving in the right direction at least. I did 180kg x5 in just a belt two weeks ago (missing the 6th 6-8 inches above parallel) and did a super easy 230kg today in my Centurion suit sans wraps.

When I miss I don’t fall forward, I can keep my position and keep straining, but just not get thru the sticking point.

Here’s the most recent raw vid I have; http://ie.youtube.com/watch?v=dfx2IBcFLtE

And here’s some suited squats from today;

Thoughts??

Sorry to the OP for the hijack btw.

No problem hanley hijack away. those of you who are were I want to be are the ones I want to watch and learn from I appreciate your insight.

Speed work should be done at the depth you want to hit in competition. One often overlooked aspect of DE work is that it is also supposed to be technique practice. That being the case, you wouldn’t want to reinforce hitting the wrong depth, so you should aim for legal depth on DE work.

ME work can be done at various heights to emphasize different aspects. We use a high box at my gym as a way to get used to feeling a heavier than normal weight on our backs. If you’re a raw guy that has trouble out of the hole, then low box will help with that. I personally think low box is worthless if you’re competing in gear.