- Is it okay to do box squats, gradually building up one’s squat depth as time goes by? [/quote]
It’s one way to do it. Lifting is enabling, not limiting. You’re lifting to reach your goals, nobody else’s, so do what works for you. There’s no “rights” or “wrongs”… there’s things that take you closer to your goals, things that don’t, and things that cause injury…
That said, you can use box squats and build your depth with it. The problem is that most people are strongest at the top, so as you get deeper, you seem to get weaker. You’ll have to be careful with how you progress.
If your goals are physique related, and you’re looking to use squats for that, many people recommend deeper high-bar squats. If your goals are powerlifting related (not “strength related”, you get stronger both ways), then getting comfortable with a low-bar squat just to parallel is the usual path; this sometimes involves box squatting.
There’s many other ways to do this too.
I personally think both of those are bad ideas, since I think neither really help teach you where your body is strongest, and you lose some of the ability to feel where everything is positioned in space. But that’s just my opinion.
I think a mix of heavy bottoms-up squats from various heights, combined with some very slow motion free squats, along with goblet squats, all done with the intent of remaining stable, balanced, and feeling strong… I think those will do a lot more for teaching yourself where your strengths and weaknesses are.
Ultimately you’re going to have to find out what works for you. Coaching cues are just a guide.