T Nation

Olympic Squats to Box Squats

I have been training the snatch and the C/J for the last year and I am interested in learining how to box squat properly.
Anyone have any experience with the box squat? (strength gains, good/bad stories, etc)

I hate them, have had 3 friends get seriously injusred, 2 knees, 1 hip, maybe they were going too heavy or a form flaw, but scared the heck out of me and I wont do them.
Go to www.elitefts.com for a desc and pic of how to do them correctly.

I just think that if you are very strong, it is not that good of and idea to take all that weight and unload it on your spine at an extended ROM.
Also make sure that you dont PLOP down on the box jarring your spine.

[quote]worker wrote:
I have been training the snatch and the C/J for the last year and I am interested in learining how to box squat properly.
Anyone have any experience with the box squat? (strength gains, good/bad stories, etc)[/quote]

i think they are great for learning to sit back in the squat, learning to “feel” where parallel is when you squat, develop hip flexibility, and learn to spread the floor on the way up.

I personally think everyone should learn to box squat before learning to do a full squat.

meat

My word of advice is to wear some suit-bottoms for your heavier sets, just as a precautionary issue.

The suit bottoms won’t help too tremendously, as the box squat [when done correctly] should break the chain of motion as well as the stretch reflex from a full squat.

If done correctly, they are a tremedous exercise for the posterior chain, and also helps your back to prepare for heavier PR loads.

[quote]maraudermeat wrote:
worker wrote:
I have been training the snatch and the C/J for the last year and I am interested in learining how to box squat properly.
Anyone have any experience with the box squat? (strength gains, good/bad stories, etc)

i think they are great for learning to sit back in the squat, learning to “feel” where parallel is when you squat, develop hip flexibility, and learn to spread the floor on the way up.

I personally think everyone should learn to box squat before learning to do a full squat.

meat[/quote]

I did O squatting for a while and am having a hell of a time learning the power squat.

I’ve become “relatively” decent in the O-Squat, but I wondered about the transfer and if the box squatting would help strength levels. My guess is that it would b/c of the loads…but don’t know for sure or even if its safe/sane to box squat when you can already to ATG squats?

I thought I was the only one who had problems with the box squat. In my eyes I had correct form, I sat back, no knee forward movement, sit on the box as gently as possible.
I stell felt a sore spot on my back each time I finished box squats. It felt awkward to bend over and use the back in general. Yes, it probably was technique, but I think I didn’t do anything wrong.

I’ve gone back and forth with these over the last 5 years. I’ve tried to mix the two together but it doesn’t work for me. Here’s what I’ve found:

Olympic Squats:

  1. Use Olympic shoes and shoulder width stance
  2. Easier on the low back but harder on the knees
  3. Keep bar high on traps
  4. Focus on looking straight. If you have to start looking up your breaking form.
  5. neoprene knee sleeves work well. I usually keep them at my ankles for the first sets then pull them up as the weight gets heavy.

Box Squats:

  1. Use Chucks and super wide stance
  2. Easier on the knees but harder on the low back
  3. Keep bar low on traps
  4. Focus on looking a little more up.
  5. You got to use powerlifting briefs, your hips will be shot without them.

Overall I personally prefer O. Squats but Box squats cured my problem of knees coming in on O. Squats by strengthened the hips, so this is not a problem anymore. I usually change these up every few months. As well I change Regular Deadlifts to high pulls.

Box Squatting
By: Louie Simmons

Box squatting is the most effective method to produce a first-rate squat. This is, in my opinion, the safest way to squat because you don’t use as much weight as you would with a regular squat.

Let me say first that, no, they won’t hurt your spine, you don’t use1000 lbs. on a 25 inch tall box, you don’t rock on the box, you don’t touch and go, and there is no need to do regular power squats before a meet. No knee wraps are worn nor are the straps of the suit pulled up.

By doing sets of 2 reps for at least 8 sets with short rest periods, you will get about a 200 lb. carryover to your regular squat. Two of our lifters finished their lifting cycle before a meet with 8 sets of 2 reps with 505 lbs. off a slightly below parallel box, and both squatted 700 for a meet PR One was competing in the 242s and the other as a 275. Two years before, in his first meet, our 275 pounder squatted 465 - quite an improvement!

There are many advantages to box squatting. One of the most important is recuperation. You can train more often on a box than you can doing regular squats. The original Westside boys (Culver City, CA) did them three times a week, which I feel is a bit extreme, but they paved the way for this type of training.

We do them for the squat part of our workout on Fridays and occasionally on Mondays to build hip and low back power for deadlifting. The NBA’s Utah Jazz do box squats for the same reason - recuperation. Greg Shepherd, their strength coach, is a former member of the Culver City gym.
The second reason is equally important.

It is generally accepted that you should keep your shins perpendicular to the floor when squatting. With box squatting, you can go past this point (that is, an imaginary line drawn from your ankle to your knee will point toward your body), which places all the stress on the major squatting muscles- hips, glutes, lower back, and hamstrings. This is a tremendous advantage.

Thirdly, you don’t have to ask anyone if you were parallel. Once you establish a below parallel height, all of your squats will be just that -below parallel. I have seen it over and over. As the weights get heavier, the squats get higher. This can’t happen with box squats.

If your hips are weak, use a below parallel box with a wide stance. If you need low back power, use a close stance, below parallel. If your quads are weak, work on a parallel box. If you have a sticking point about 2 inches above parallel, as is common, then work on a box that is 2 inches above parallel.

Our advancedWestside Barbell www.westside-barbell.comsquatters use all below parallel boxes. This builds so much power out of the hole that there will be no sticking points.

As an added bonus, box squats will build the deadlift as well by overloading the hips and lower back muscles. Your ability to explode off the floor will increase greatly. One of our 275 pounders, Jerry Obradovich, put 50 lbs. on his dead lift in 3 months by doing extra box squats during that time period, going from 672 to 722 at the 1994 APF Junior Nationals.

Chuck Vogelpohl deadlifts only about once in 8 weeks yet pulls 793 in the 242s. Chuck relies on wide box squats on a low, 12-inch box and does a lot of reverse hypers?5356,359 and 6,491,607b2 and chest-supported rows.

Now, how do you do a box squat? They are performed just like regular squats. Fill your abdomen with air, and push out against your belt. Push your knees out as far as possible to the sides and with a tightly arched back, squat back, not down, until you completely sit on the box. Every muscle is kept tight while on the box with the exception of the hip flexors.

By releasing and then contracting the hip flexors and arching the upper back, you will jump off the box, building tremendous starting strength. Remember to sit back and down, not straight down. Your hamstrings will be strengthened to a high degree, which is essential.

Many don’t know this, but the hamstrings are hip extensors. Some great squatters have large quads and some do not, but they all have large hamstrings where they tie into the glutes. Remember to sit on the box completely and flex off.

Now, how do you know how much you can full squat if you box squat all the time? Well, let’s say you have squatted 600 lbs. in a meet and decided to box squat. Let’s say you can do 550 off a parallel box; that’s a 50-lb. carry-over. Now you are doing only box squats and you take a weight 4-6 weeks into the cycle. You hit a 575 squat, a 25-lb. jump on that particular box.

This will carry over to your 600 contest best. So now expect a 625 at your next meet.
I recommend that you train with 65-82% of your box record on each particular box height that you use. Change box heights every 3-4 weeks. Do not base the training weight on your full squat record! Box squats are much harder than full squats! Do 8-12 sets of 2 reps with 1 minute rest between sets. This is a tough workout!

The week that you reach 82%, reduce the sets to 6. Don’t train with more than 82%. You can try a max the after you train with 82%. If you are going to a meet, take a weight 2 weeks before the meet. The week before the meet use 70% for 6-8 sets.

This type of squatting is hard work, but each rep shouldn’t be hard. Don’t get psyched up to do your sets. We have found that 2 reps is ideal because any more may cause bicipital tendonitis and if you are doing 12 sets, you are doing 12 first reps per workout. After all, the first rep is the most important one. This will make your contest squat much better. Our most talented lifters will do best on

Westside Barbell www.westside-barbell.com
their first rep and then tire quickly whereas our lower skilled people will do better after the first rep is completed because they use the first rep as a body awareness tool. As they become more skilled, their first rep will be their best.

I know box squatting is not common, mostly because no one knows how do them. After reading this or watching my squat tape you should be fully aware of the benefits. Many great squatters have done box squats including Marv Phillips, Larry Kidney, Roger Estep, Matt Dimel, and of course George Fern, who did an 853 squat in track shorts in 1970.

If box squats didn’t work, we wouldn’t do them. We have 20 lifters who have squatted over 700 lbs. in a meet including a 198 who has done 804. 1 hope this article clears up any misconceptions and leads to great success on the lifting platform.

BOX SQUATTING BENEFITS
Louie Simmons
I am often asked, why do box squats? We do them to produce
world-record squats. The late, great Matt Dimel made 1010 in 1985 at
SHW. Chuck Vogelpohl pushed the limit of the squat by doing 1025 at
220 pounds, the lightest man to do a grand.
I am sure that the original Westside Barbell in Culver City,
California, was asked the same questions in the 1960s and early 1970s,
when Bill West and George Frenn were breaking squats records beyond
comprehension. Frenn made 854 in gym trunks at 242 and held a world
record in the weight throw.
Later men such as Larry Kidney and his training partners Marve
Phillips broke many world record squats by box squatting.
Paul Childress has made 1123 at 308, and I am sure Paul has to
defend why he box squats.
My friend Eskil, from Sweden, found a training manual from the
1950s at a Polish weight lifting facility demonstrating the box squat.
Today, my friend Sakari, from Finland, teaches box squatting to their
strongest lifters. Lifters from Ireland, Germany, England, Canada, and
Sweden are also box squatting.
At Westside, in Columbus, Ohio, we have five men who squat
more than 1000 pounds and a woman, Amy Weisburger, who at 148 has
squatted 565.
Because I am asked why do box squats, I will explain simply
and scientifically why we do them and why you should too.
First, there is only one way to box squat. !Pure Power!
had an article on ways to box squat, but there is only one proven
way: the Westside way. Here’s how. First, push the glutes rearward
as far as possible. With a tight back arch to descend to the box.
Push your neck into your traps. Push your knees apart to maximally
activate the hips. When sitting on the box, the shins should be
straight
up and down or even past perpendicular. This places all the work on the
hamstrings, glutes, hips, and low back. These are the precise muscle
groups that do a very large percent of the squat. After sitting
completely
on the box, some glute and hip muscles are relaxed somewhat. Then
forcefully flex the abs, hips, and glutes and jump off the box.
To ascend correctly, push the traps into the bar first. This
will flex the back muscles, then the hips and glutes, and finally the
legs. If you push with the legs first, you will be in a good morning
position because the glutes will raise first, causing you to bend over.
Remember that where the head goes, the body will follow. Note: Always
push the feet out to the sides, not directly down. Chuck Taylors are
the
best shoes for squatting. This was tested at Ball State University in
lab conditions.
Box squats have tremendous advantages over regular squats. These
are as follows.
You do not get as sore from a box squat workout, and you can
recover much faster.
If the box that you are squatting on is below parallel and you
do a thousand squats, they will all be below parallel, regardless of
the weight. This is important because when many lifters warm up, they
cannot break parallel with light weight, or as the weight nears a max,
many will cut depth. However, with a box to sit on, you will always
break parallel, or any depth desired.
Box squats can increase flexibility. When monitoring
flexibility,
you should be able to break parallel with your competition stance. If
this is not possible, sit on a box about 2 inches above parallel. After
mastering that height, reduce the box height by half an inch. The
easiest way is to remove a 1/2 inch rubber mat. Then sit on the box
at that new height until comfortable. Reduce the height half an inch
again. Continue this until you are not only at parallel but below.
Start with a shoulder-width stance. Then widen your stance by an inch
or two each time until a very wide stance is achieved. John Stafford
has
sat on a 6 inch box; he is 6 feet tall, 285 pounds.
I am always concerned when a coach asks how low can we squat,
referring to Olympic squats. A very close squat stance makes no sense.
Look at a pyramid; the wider the base, the greater the pyramid. I guess
if my only claim to fame was bouncing my ass off my heels with 315, I
would ask that question myself.
Box squatting with a slow count is a form of PNF (propriceptive
neuromuscular facilitation), commonly used in clinical settings. This
type of stretch involves a maximum precontraction of the muscle groups
to undergo elongation. As the box is lowered to an extreme for your
range of motion, a box squat can become a safe ballistic stretch
method. This will not only increase your range of motion in the muscle
groups but also increase joint mobility.
Box squats also resemble CRAC (contract relax agonist contract),
a form of stretching. This information can be found in !Strength and Power in Sport! (1991).
If you lower to the box slowly and widen your stance slowly,
more muscle flexibility and joint mobility can be achieved.
A lighter weight can achieve a bigger squat with box squatting.
By training at 50-60% of your 1-rep max in a 3-week wave, a large
squat can be developed. Three lifters trained with 405-480 for 8-10
doubles with 120 pounds of chain as a reactive method. They all made
their first 800+ squat.
Jumping ability is developed with box squats. John Stafford,
at 290 body weight, can jump onto a 35 inch box with a pair of 35 pound
dumbbells. John Harper, a sophomore at Kent State University,
is a discus thrower (with 189 feet) who can jump onto a 50 inch box.
Maybe more extraordinary is that he is able to sit on his knees and
jump
onto his feet with 255 pounds on his back, due largely to box
squatting.
Box squatting increases pulling power. It closely simulates
the motion of pulling off the floor, first by relaxing on the box
after lowering onto it, then exploding upward. This is very close to
the movement known as the modified dive.
If one suffers a knee injury, box squatting can be done while
rehabing the injury. When sitting on a box fully and correctly, the
shins are past perpendicular. This reduces the pressure on the patella
tendons by placing the majority of the weight on the hamstrings and
glutes and on the heels, not the toes. It should be noted that the
box itself reduces a portion of the bar weight or body weight that you
are trying to move.
After a complete patella tendon rupture, box squats helped me to
go from an 821 squat in 1991 to a 920 at 235 body weight in 2002 after
the injury. John Bott had similar success. Also, I mustn’t forget
Jim Hoskinson, who had a horrendous injury to both knees. He had a 744
squat before the injury and had recently done 1091 in the same weight
class, 308.
A box squat combines two very important methods. One is the
static dynamic method. It combines two muscle activities. Static work occurs
while on the box, although the lifter is constantly moving backward or
forward. Then by flexing off the box, the dynamic sequence occurs.
The second method that is used when box squatting is the
relaxedovercome-
by-dynamic work. This occurs by sitting on the box with the
hips
rolling in a relaxed fashion, then switching to an explosive, or
dynamic,
concentric phase. Both of the above-mentioned methods build explosive
strength as well as absolute strength.
Why are box squats superior to conventional squats? I hope to
explain it further through physics. Lowering to the box in the
eccentric
phase is a form of potential energy. When sitting on the box in about
0.5 second, you are involved in a collision. By using a box to land on,
we can produce kinetic energy. The amount of kinetic energy an object
has
depends on two things: its mass (weight) and its speed. A heavier
weight
means more kinetic energy. But more importantly, in a regular squat,
the
eccentric phase lasts about 1 second, about twice as long as in a box
squat. By being able to relax some muscles and with the use of Jump-
Stretch
bands, the box squat is close to twice as fast. If you tripled the
speed,
it would represent 9 times more kinetic energy during the collision.
What about the development of power? Power is defined as work
done divided by the time used to do the work. When you do a regular
squat, you must do three things. The first is the eccentric phase,
where muscles lengthen. When the eccentric phase stops, a static phase
begins, where the muscles are not lengthening or shortening, but muscle
energy is decreasing. Then to raise concentrically, you must start a
load
while the muscles are held statically, even to a brief extent. Could
this
phenomenon be the reason that you can lower 50% more than you can
raise?
After all, power can be produced only so long. In a regular squat,
you must produce power during all three phases, but a box squat breaks
up the eccentric and concentric phases because some of the muscles are
relaxing while others are held statically by movement in the hip
joints.
Here is where force can be redirected very strongly. Because a heavy
squat uses a large amount of energy, it makes sense to break the work
into separate parts. While box squatting is not plyometrics, it builds
tremendous reversal strength.
Wilson’s studies (1990) have shown that the stretch
reflex lasts up to 2 seconds. We have proven that by sitting on a box
correctly the reflex lasts up to 8 seconds. What an advantage for a
football lineman on a long count.
Explosive strength is developed mainly by explosive efforts,
such as jumps, shot put, and jerking dumbbells or a barbell. However,
it is easiest and safest to develop explosive strength by increasing
maximal strength (!Science of Sports Training!, Thomas Kurz).
I hope this convinces you to try box squatting, which many of
the
old champs and the new champs are doing.

I stared WestSide lifting and box sqauting two years ago. My lifts are all up, but I’m not sure how much of that is because of box squating. I plateau quickly, and need to change my ME exercise weekly, so box squatting gives me two more options (with and without a chain).

The Westside guys do very little free squating. I started out that way and found I was sorest after my rare free squat ME day. I figured that if it made me sore it was doing good, so a free sqaut avery six weeks or so, with box squats twice as often.

If you start box squating, start at a lower weight. The injuries you hear about come from bad form, and guys just loading up their free squat weights and going down on a box. DO NOT DO THAT. Box squatting is harder and you need to account for that.

Thank you so much for all the information!! (nice articles)

Are squat briefs going to be a must with box squats?

I think another way of getting the same kind of effect (Deloading and breaking the stretch reflex) that may be better for your squat especially if you are interested in o lifts are chain suspended squats.

You can keep your olympic squat form with this method. The box squat is more about activating your posterior chain and ‘sitting back’ into your squat.

So if you have a squat cage and chains. set up the chains hanging from the top to deload when you hit your desired depth and viola.

Box squatting is easier on my knees but harder on my hips. I had to get some Power Pants to support them and lay off for a while to get my hips feeling better.

Is this something i can attempt with bands? Would it be possible to explain it just a bit further…sorry, I sometimes think I am learning impaired!

[quote]Xen Nova wrote:
I think another way of getting the same kind of effect (Deloading and breaking the stretch reflex) that may be better for your squat especially if you are interested in o lifts are chain suspended squats.

You can keep your olympic squat form with this method. The box squat is more about activating your posterior chain and ‘sitting back’ into your squat.

So if you have a squat cage and chains. set up the chains hanging from the top to deload when you hit your desired depth and viola.

[/quote]

Funny I have found the opposite to be true: box squats feel great, but O-squats do a number on my hips. My guess is inflexibility, so I’m working on dynamic drills and MFR.

i wanna know do u site back on the box and then rock and cradle with ur ass for about a SEC OR TWO beacuse that causes the hips to relaX AND CONTRACT FAST.

[quote]Topathlete wrote:
i wanna know do u site back on the box and then rock and cradle with ur ass for about a SEC OR TWO beacuse that causes the hips to relaX AND CONTRACT FAST.[/quote]

Do not rock on the box. Sit, release the hipe flexors and flex off pushing out your knees hard.

[quote]mattwray wrote:
Topathlete wrote:
i wanna know do u site back on the box and then rock and cradle with ur ass for about a SEC OR TWO beacuse that causes the hips to relaX AND CONTRACT FAST.

Do not rock on the box. Sit, release the hipe flexors and flex off pushing out your knees hard.

[/quote]

Great question topathlete, thats what I would like to know.

Is this correct then? It seems to be the most common way I have seen them demonstrated. Appears to rock back slightly.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=79zAz08gwYg

Here is another…same type of thing.

[quote]worker wrote:
mattwray wrote:
Topathlete wrote:
i wanna know do u site back on the box and then rock and cradle with ur ass for about a SEC OR TWO beacuse that causes the hips to relaX AND CONTRACT FAST.

Do not rock on the box. Sit, release the hipe flexors and flex off pushing out your knees hard.

Great question topathlete, thats what I would like to know.

Is this correct then? It seems to be the most common way I have seen them demonstrated. Appears to rock back slightly.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=79zAz08gwYg

Here is another…same type of thing.

yah that is wat i thought u should be doing???