T Nation

Is Box Squatting Dangerous?


Hi, I went to a new gym today and I found this picture on the walls. I have been box squatting for a long time and never had a problem before, but I would like to know more about it.


Judging by the description below the picture, they're not really talking about a proper box squat here. At least I've never seen someone dive bomb onto a box, and that's the mental image I got when I read it.

Not that I'm a huge fan of box squats anyway, but if you're controlling the weight and sitting back onto the box -not just dropping down and using it as an assist/depth check, which the caption seems to indicate- the spinal loading shouldn't be significantly different from a normal squat; you can always throw a foam pad onto the box with enough give to get to proper depth, which most of the gyms that use a lot of box squatting seem to do.


As previous poster said, the key is to do a soft touch, don't use the box to rebound or don't "plop" on to the box.


By soft touch, I assume you mean that you're still putting 100% of your weight on the box before going up, just that you shouldn't be crashing down onto the box?


Not to speak for Tim by any means, but Tony Gentilcore has used the cue "act like you're sitting on broken glass" to describe the tight decent for box squats. I think that gets the point across it pretty well. A controlled landing without releasing all of the tension and resting 100% on the box.


i tell the guys that squat with me, to try and grab the furthest corner of my box with their ass.
seems to work, as noone plops. and it always controlled.


That poster is incorrect, the force would be a compression force, not a shearing force. The spine is very good at handling compressive forces and should be able to handle sitting on a box normally without difficulty. An example of a shearing force would be a force pushing one vertebra forward on another one, such as when one is bent over and deadlifting.

I think "devastatingly harmful" is not the correct adjective here--a more accurate description would be "possibly harmful". I've never seen or heard of anyone actually get hurt box squatting, even if there are many warnings out there like the poster. Finally, most benches in the gym are padded and it is actually a little more challenging to stand up from them because of this.

I would question the management of the gym about this poster--it is ridiculous. Especially the "sledgehammer-like force part".


all of those warnings, don't squat, don't do situps, etc are for "unconditioned athletes", eg: insurance salesman and soccer mums.

the problem arises is that just because they can unrack a certain weight, they get the chance to do the lift, without all the work that should either go before it, or the advice of someone who has gone before them..

perfect advice for some one who wants to "loose some weight and get fit", ie: 95% of all fitness club members


Thank you guys for all your replys! I will keep box squatting, and I will ignore that pic!


that diagram is stupid, too. how are you supposed to stand up when the weight is behind you heels?


i'm glade someone else saw the same thing. that doesn't look like a box squat i've ever seen. with that form and the vertical back there is no way to even stand up without any added weight.




Here's some advice about box squats from one of the guys at my gym who squats 800 at 180:

"pretend you are a chicken sitting on eggs. the eggs are on the box. you don't want to break them"

inb4 everyone else, here's a video of him


Uhh, holy crap. That's one powerful squat.


A lot of speed on the way up for a squat that heavy, now I want to go squat!


May I ask why you are doing box squats? The consensus seems to be that they are best used when you want to do multiply lifting, not raw or singleply lifting.

Just saying, because it could cost you dearly later on when you realize the "carry-over" is way below expectations.


Box squatting can help anyone who wants to work on shin placement and hip explosion


only if the box gives


When I did a raw wider stance with next to no knee travel, I got a lot out of box squats. It was when I narrowed my stance and allowed a lot more knee travel that I started getting nothing out of them.

I really think it has more to do with your style of squat than the gear involved.


People always forget to mention that the box squat also builds the deadlift.