T Nation

Why is Box Sqt Higher than Back Sqt?


Currently Im training to get my squats to 600 lbs and for some reason, my regular raw squat max is 485 lbs but with box squats I can do 5 sets of 5 with 520 lbs. The box is parallel too, even had one of the gyms trainers walk me through with it.

Also, Westside keeps saying that I should have a really wide stance with my knees spread out far apart, but I find it hard to keep my knees from buckling inward. any suggestions?


could just be possible that you've trained your body to better perform box squats than regular. just like if you practice repping a particular weight, say 225 like at the combine, logic says you'll get better at it. when you start doing excersises in unbalanced manner, like doing more box squats than regular squats. the balance between the two will shift towards box squats, but that would depend on your split between the two.


Are you sure you're not bouncing or rocking off the box?


Somebody with a deeper understanding of body mechanics can correct me if wrong, but i had a similar problem when moving to a wider stance squat. The issue for me, and I imagine for you, is that having had a closer stance squat, I wasn't as used to having to force my legs out (external rotation of the hips) at the bottom of the squat. What they say is that at the bottom of the wider stance squat, you want to think about slamming your legs outward providing a hole from which to pop out of at the bottom of the squat. Beside just practicing this in my training, I add 100 reps on the hip adduction machine at the end of leg workouts. I believe it has significantly helped.

Also, I found that as opposed to the more traditional wide toe angle stance (>30 degrees), keeping my legs wide but pointing my toes forward (<10 degrees) makes me have an easier time of "spreading my legs" when I get to the bottom. I also find a lot more power coming from my hips when I have this very small toe angle.


Knees buckling inwards is pretty common. You're just not used to forcing your knees out. The entire motion up and down you need to think about spreading your knees out wide. It's difficult to do at first but will become second nature.

What is your weak point in the regular squat? What's your stance like? Where do you fail and where does the bar begin to slow down?


This may sound dumb but I've seen it happen. Look at your foot angle. I've seen people stand wide with their feet pointing straight forward. Like that, as soon as you descend your knees WILL cave prolly no matter how hard you push out. I've had great luck with simply keeping my feet at the same angle as my thighs. This way everything is in line and I don't even need to push the knees out. Or atleast I don't feel like I'm pushing.

You may have a different issue but sometimes it's the simple things we overlook.

Hope this helps someone reading.




This is simply not true. Feet pointing forward is something that you want. If you can't keep your knees out with this you just have weak external rotation. TRT has it right.


I've always been taught that your knees should follow your feet. If you are squatting with your hips very open, your feet should be angled out. Doing otherwise (Knees out, feet pointing forward) is awkward at best.


The knees should follow your feet. I was just saying that if you squat with your toes forward, you are not increasing your risk of caving at the knee. In fact, you are doing the opposite by reducing valgus forces on the knee. I squat moderately wide with feet pointed forward. However, many will not be able to do this due to flexibility restrictions in the hip adductors, hip internal rotators, or ankle dorsiflexors.


The weak point in my regular squat is getting out of the hole. Usually, if I can get just a little bit up from the bottom then I can get straight up. I heard that knee wraps help with that a little bit


It sounds like you are not sitting back far enough. Your shins should be past perpendicular (behind your feet)once you hit the box and the movement off the box should be similar to a hamstring curl. Don't be surprised if you can't even move the bar the first time you squat like this. Your feet need to be wide for most of your box squats in order to get the most out of your hip abductors, glutes, and hamstrings. This is a horribly disadvantagous position and it will be VERY hard to get off the box. If you are box squatting anywhere near your max without a box then your technique is off. Doing it correctly will put you around 80-85% of your brdt free squat (for most people anyway).

As far as foot angle, people can say anything they want to and are entitled to their opinion, I guess, but here are some biomechanics for you. Once your feet turn out past about 10 degrees, your arch collapses. This makes the posterior tibialis stretch to almost max tension. The post tib attaches to the knee. Once it it stretched, it completely inhibits external rotation in your hips (which is what a good squat is) and actually forces you into internal rotation (valgus, knees caving). With your feet angled out, it does make it easier for your knees to track your feet, but this is not external rotation, it is knee/hip felxion and extension, which a good squat is not.


Like the others have said, your abductors are weak for that movement, start doing the good girl/bad girl machines at the gym. Those helped a lot. During the movement you should be thinking hips out when going down and up. I bet your loosening up on the box and that initiates the knees coming in.

About the angle of the feet being in line with the knees, I've been working on pointing my feet forward because its suppose to create like a natural set of briefs, you shouldn't be able to get to parallel without any weight on your back. The guy over at mobilitywod.com talks a lot about it and specifically with Mark Bell and Donnie Thompson in a few of his videos. Here's a video where mark bell is talking about it during a training session: http://youtu.be/YiptgW0Ryxs


+1 for mobilitywod - Storm got me into that site and now I try to do at least one of the videos per day, if not three or four. My whole squat movement has been made drastically easier. But I'm still having trouble making it through the whole 10 minute squat test.... that's brutal.

Anyway, he definitely talks about toes forward which what got me working on that and found almost a night and day difference in the power I got out of the hole. I'm not as good with biomechanics as you all are, but with feet straight (~5 degrees), once I really slam my legs out as I descend and hit the hole(external rotation), I find popping out of the hole is drastically easier. I feel so much more power coming from my glutes/hips whereas when I have toes out, I feel so much more power being directed to my inner thighs and hamstrings, which aren't nearly as strong as my glutes/hips. Pardon the lack of technical terminology


good god aint this the truth, lol. i watched copious vidoes on box squatting just to make sure i got the idea right. used 50% of my back squat max. i could hardly crack out 5 reps for a few sets and i was sore as hell for 2 days. i can tell where my weak is now.

it was hard the first set to really push my ass back enough and keep my shins back. i did have to raise the box up a few inches from just below parallel to just above to get the feel of it right.


The more you sound off on biomechanics, the better. Thanks for that. Now I'll go back to lurking.


See that's why I hang out in these forums to learn something. I have never claimed to know it all and you certainly don't see my picture on the cover of Powerlifting USA...lol

I'm doing squats today so I'm gonna try this shit and report back in later this evening. Let me write what I think you guy are talking abot and if I'm wrong please line me out on this stuff. I want to improve my shit!

Feet angle is 10ish deg from being forward, In the hole push knees outward hard. squat weight up like normal. I guess this would be akin to 'leg drive' in the bench? Did I forget anything? and thanks for the info!


Serriously guys, thanks a lot. Im learning a lot and thanks for the links and the advice. I went ahead and tried to do the box squats with a wide stance and have my feet pointed slightly outward so that my knees could follow them. I kept my shins perpendicular to the ground and I also sat back all of the way and Im pleased to say that I did 5 sets of 1 repetition with 520 lbs.

It was a lot harder but i definitely feel it in my hip abductors and my hamstrings. Once again, thanks a lot, this is the only forum that I can ask a question and not get ragged on by other members.


If you are a raw lifter then your feet shouldn't be super wide. westside lifts in gear and the gear allows them to place their feet super wide due to the stopping and protection the gear gives.