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Parallel Box Squat Strength vs Normal Squat Strength

Hey guys this was probably answered before but I want to know the difference on strength between a parallel box squat and competition squat. I want to know this because I want to see if I made progress. Last year I trained the parallel box squat for 6 months and now I am newly getting to squat normally again. Obviously the numbers are different between the two but I squatted 180 kg last week and I parallel box squatted the same weight a few months ago. How much of a difference is there (roughly) between the two? Thanks.

I doubt you’ll like my answer, but I’m almost certain it depends. If your box squat and free squat had the same stance and were very similar in most other respects, your strength in each would probably be fairly similar. If not, then not. However, I’d be surprised if your box squatting hadn’t made you stronger generally, so it shouldn’t take long for you to be able to apply that strength to your free squat.

If you’re doing a Westside Barbell type box squat where you’re at a mechanical disadvantage from having vertical shins or past vertical when you’re on the box and you’re properly releasing your hip flexors while on the box and you’re training your stretch reflex in one way or another, the box squat will be +/-10% below the free squat.

If you use a quad dominant free squat, you’re box squat will be a bit lower than that and if you do a free squat similar in form to your box squat it’ll be a bit closer. If you’re only doing box squats and don’t train the stretch reflex either through free squats and/or plyos, they’ll be closer together.

Most box squats I see in the gym are not done that way. They rock off the box, they bounce off the box, or they don’t release their hip flexors. Those first two can be dangerous. You might see some Westside vids where they intentionally rock off the box and if I were in Louie’s gym with his guys constantly cueing me to do the right form I would do them too if that’s what they wanted me to, but I wouldn’t recommend it in most other circumstances because the natural tendency would be to do it in a way that can screw up the back over time.

There’s nothing wrong with a box squat where you don’t release your hip flexors, but that’s something better called a squat to a box than a box squat.

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Thanks for the response man. The thing is that I used to the box squat a little bit wrong. Most of the times I would rock hardly to make the lift easier or wait a few seconds in the box when I was tired. The thing is that when I was box squatting I would cheat and wait so much that I could do 315 for 13. When I got back to squatting normally I could only to 315 for 2 mostly because I had to get used to it, my body forgot the motor pattern.

To learn what it means to relax your hip flexors, squat down onto a chair or short stool or something, then when you’re on it, lift your feet off the ground for a split second, then stand back up. This places all your weight on the ‘box’ and gets rid of the energy you store up while descending.

This is a large part of why a box squat should be significantly lower than a free squat.

To understand the mechanical disadvantage I mentioned in my prior post, you have to understand the most mechanical advantage is achieved with both knees and hips in line with the mid-foot. In a Westside style box squat, your knees are behind mid-line and your hips are as far back as possible without falling over or sacrificing good form.

That’s another reason a box squat should be harder.

It’s a great movement for explosive hip drive out of the hole and developing the posterior chain. This doesn’t mean it’s the end all be all movement. Even done properly, this movement isn’t optimal to include in everyone’s program. On the other hand, it might be something you always want to include. Check out some of Dave Tate’s literature and videos on the box squat. There’s a lot out there.

Also, make sure you push your knees out hard. Knees in line with your pinky toe. Most people won’t do this without a lot of cueing and practice at first. This will keep you more upright so you don’t do something looking like a wide stance goodmorning to a box.

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