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Question to thoughtful Westsiders:

QuestioQuestion to thoughtful Westsiders:

In his book, ?The Strongest Shall Survive: Strength Training for Football,? Bart Starr criticizes Box Squats for putting undue stress on the lower back. Namely, relaxation of the lumbar musculature allows for potentially harmful movement of the spine while it subjected to tremendous weight.

Intuitively this seems to make sense. In addition, Bart Starr is a reasonably creditable source; he is no weightlifting slouch (successful competitor, coach, and professor at John Hopkins). On the other hand, many reputable strength coaches favor Box Squats and have been exceedingly successful using the exercise.

Here is what I want: can anyone give solid, well-thought-out, arguments or evidence contrary to Starr?s claim. For instance, does Mel Siff weigh in on the side of Box Squats (I?m looking at Goldberg; you?re reading his book, right?)? Experience counts as well; has anyone been Box-squatting for over ten years? How does your back feel. Mainly, I want to avoid the ?WTF? and ?that?s BS? responses?
What does the T-think tank have?
n to thoughtful Westsiders:

You’re not supposed to relax your lumbar muscles.

Well irst of all, you never relax the lumbar spine in a box squat. Taking that logic, if one relaxed the lumbar spine in a heavy deadlift or clean, you could also do damage.
Second, “you don’t fall down on a box. The box isn’t four inches about parallel and you’re using 900 when you’re a 500 lb. squatter” That’s a direct qoute from Louie. You use submaximal loads for box squats (the large majority of the time), so the danger of hurting your back with heavy loads isn’t really there. The most I ever use is 60% of max, and that is rare.
The box teaches you to sit back, squat to the correct height, and (most importantly in my opintion) allows for a “static overcome by dynamic” contraction. Siff has mentioned static-dynamic methods in Supertraining, though the example he gave was not the box squat.

The guys name is Bill Starr. Bart Starr played for the packers.

Sully’s points are excellent. They are extremely effective in speed work, if done correctly. You have to keep in mind that after box squating for a while, your body begins to anticipate contact with the box before it happens, almost on a subconscious level. This results in a real quick slowing of decent just above (1") the box in preparation for the pause. You should hold your air and arch the whole time. The only thing that relaxes, and very briefly, are your hips. Keep in mind that relatively speaking, the erectors are weak and certainly not prime movers. They serve as a means to hold your arch and should be trained for static strength. Ab drive is by far a much more important component for the protection of your spine and should never be relaxed in a squat or DL. Additionally, squeezing your shoulder blades together and pulling the bar into your back is very important for upper back stability. One of the things I find time and again in novice lifters is that nobody ever taught them about ab drive and how to engage their abs to stabilize. Even when they have a belt on, they have no idea what should be done. Additionally, they almost always set up with relaxed shoulders and their elbows behind them. IMO, this combined with bouncing off the box has alot to do with these stupid stories/opinions of how box squating is bad for you. If you bounce off the box, don’t know how to use your abs effectively and hold your arch, and don’t have a tight upper back, they are a risky exercise. I have been box squating on and off for more than ten years, and my spine is just fine. One more consideration. I have watched alot of people try to use box squats in a progressive overload cycle. What tends to happen is that as the weight goes up, the tendency becomes to let your hips come up before driving your head into the bar. This results in tremendous force on the SI and lumbar spine, and should never be allowed to happen more than once in a good training environment. Not to mention is contrary to why you should be training the movement in the first place. This, as opposed to the actual act of box squating, is responsible for a lot of injuries you hear about. Train hard!


my bad goldie-- flatuous votum…


Why i have mad respect for bill starr and bart star also lol, i would gurante that he didnt understand how to box squat correctly, 99% of peoiple i see box squating are doing it WRONG, in my opinion box squating is a art developed by westside they have perfected it to give unreal carryover to squating. unless you have been under the watchfull eye of a really good box squater in wich i have you probally are fucking up the movement. the close stance low box squat is also done wrong 99% of the time usually the low box done by a beginer or even a experenced lifter who just began westside will just do olympic squat down to the box that is wrong, the whole pourpouse of the clsoe stance low box squat is to open the hips and push up through the hips while trying to maintain and arch with a contrast bar ex safety squat bar camberd bar ect…the low box clsoe stance squat should resemble a duck stance squat, like i say box squating is a art perfected by a slim few, i dont know the science but i have been box squating for 5 years and i have no back problems. loui simmons has been doing it for over 20 years and he says the times he sufferd back problems where when he was not box squating. learning to box squat right takes time and takes good eyes to learn the proper aspects it is a art and sometmes art confuses science…big martin

Martin - How long did it take you to learn to box squat properly, and did you wind up having to spend a lot of time re-learning technique once you got under the watchful eyes of a person who really knew how to do it? I have read every article on box squats, but still have problems, and am waiting for a WS seminar to return to Dallas.

i was lucky enough to learn to box squat right infront of people in hs as my brother had been to several dave tate seminars and i was lucky enough to go at a early age, i was taught by that watchfull eye early on, plus i have had the great pleasure to train here in indy with rock tilson and ron palmer and mike coe and they have shared diffirent perspectives with me…Box squat thoughts i think this truly depends if the person who is watching you squat knows squat about squat and what i mean by that is it takes years and experence for someone to watch and see every squat style…people based on body types will have diffirent squat style i my self i am very thick with a large core and big hips and i try to use it to my advantage i have a lean much like steve goggins i like to sit into to my belly and then arch out of it with my hamstrings stretched back maximally, when i had to squat in a comercial gym in tennesse i would have half the gym come up to me and tell me i was squating wrong and was going to hurt my back even though i could out squat them all by hunderds of pounds, it was because the only person who had taught them to squat was a gym coach who didnt understand the art of the squat…i mean look at steve goggins squat he would have been kicked out of my weights class in hs lol…it really takes a watchfull eye to tell if you are squating right for your body type…i have the great opprottunity to train with ron palmer the greatest middle weight squater of all time and he has a incredibile dive bomb forward lean combo but he makes it work for him because that what his body wants to do…thats where i see the major problem with box squating is squating away from you natural squat style, and the next bad thing i see is shifting people shift up on the quads and push the squat instead of flexing it…you must learn to flex off the box and the only way you ever really get it is a sequence it will click in your mind like this…a. get set up tight and start with a arch and have my bell full of air pushing on the belt,b. then SIT BACK SIT BACK as far as you can c. then when you get to the box think about flexing the hips by pushing the kness out as hard as you can like a butterfly stretch…d. then always squat with a ball cap on backwards so the end of the cap is against your traps then try to drive the hat offyour head by pushing the bill of the cap into your traps this will kepp you in the right position…

my major keys that my training partners scream at me during every set are

1…get tight
2…belly full of air
3…sit back sit back, back farther FARTHER**THIS IS A SCREAM
4…flex flex flex FLEX
5. push your kness out,KNESS OUT
6. cap off cap off

this is where training partners come in they will make or break you,
have these things taped to the wall or mirrior in front of you or have some one screaming them at you…big martin

Martin, you are right on. I have never heard of the backward cap. Great idea I will try next Tues. (DE day)

box squats are horrible for me. great exercise, i jsut suck on them. i was told i was one of those people that looks terrible on a box but does fine in meets, which is pretty much true. my box squat form changes so much because i’m never confident with it.

i have some very strong training partners (800 lb squatter, 745lb squatter) but i still suck at box squats. oh well, one day

Thanks for the reply, Martin.

Meelhama, I started box squatting after Dave’s article was published on T-mag. I know all the points about form mentioned by the other posters and in the article and certainly TRIED to do it right. I used light weight (about 1/3 of what I normally squatted). There were probably other factors involved, but I began to experience lumbar pain after maybe 9 months. This is my first experience of back pain EVER (after lifting weights for 10 years). When I had my training partner watch my lower back during the box squat, he saw (and I also saw in the mirror) that I do maintain a lumbar arch for quite awhile during the descent, and then suddenly the arch disappears as my lumbar spine flexes. So far, I have not been able to correct this movement pattern that excessively loads my spine.