This guide to Box Squats will help you to master the technique and learn about their benefits, how to do them, training tips, what muscles they work, alternatives and variations.
What are Box Squats?
Box Squats are any type of Squat where the lifter squats down onto a box, pauses, then drives the weight back up to the starting position.
What the load is and how it is carried are both variable. The most common variation is the barbell Back Squat, which is the version we will concentrate on in this article.
The height of the box usually will allow for the lifter to break parallel. This height can be adjusted in order to alter the stimulus for the athlete.
Muscles Worked by Box Squats
The Box Squat works the body like any other Squat variation, hammering the lower body and core into getting better and stronger.
Primarily the exercise targets the quads, hamstrings and glutes.
- Quadriceps – Box Squats build strong quads
- Hamstrings – This muscle group are active but their involvement is dependent on the height of the box
- Glutes – Similar to the glutes, the amount of work they will perform is also linked to the height of the box
Additionally, the lower the barbell rests on the back, the bigger the required hip flexion and the more the hamstrings and glutes will be engaged.
Benefits of Box Squats
Box Squats have many benefits for athletes, including, but not limited to, the following.
Box Squats Enhance General Squat Form
This type of Squat forces you to move slow and pause (on the box) at the bottom. This is great because it will build better technique. They will also revel imbalances in your movement and weak spots in your lower body strength.
They Augment your Posterior Chain
Box Squats extend your lower back much further than regular Squats.
The movement pattern activates the muscle groups of the posterior chain in a different way and will challenge your body to adapt to the new stimuli. As a result, you become better.
Box Squats are Kinder to your Knees
Box Squats place much less stress on your knees.
Enhance your Concentric Strength for Squats in General
The pause at the bottom means that it is impossible to build any momentum into the upward (concentric) portion of the lift. This means you must rely on pure power and strength and this is a perfect way to train these aspects of your lift.
This will also give you a much stronger lockout for other lifts.
How to do Box Squats
- Start by setting up the box in the right position. Make sure you can easily reach it when you descend after un-racking the barbell
- The height of the box must allow to reach parallel when you sit down on it (unless you are specifically doing partial reps)
- Rack the weight as you would for a general Back Squat. Feet shoulder width apart. Take a step back
- Inhale and brace your core, glutes and grip
- Break at the hips and bend your knees. Descend until your glutes are in contact with the box
- Without breaking tension or exhaling, sit down on the box and pause for at least a second
- Push your feet hard into the ground (through your heels and midfoot) to generate force and propel the barbell upwards
- Return to the starting position at full extension. Exhale
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions
Maintain a neutral spine at all times.
Imagine gripping the floor with your toes. This cue will help you to generate force.
When you complete each repetition, your shoulders must finish directly over the hips.
Box Squat Variations
Want to mix things up? Add these Box Squat variations into your training.
- Dumbbell Box Squat
- Kettlebell Box Squat
- Front Rack Box Squat
- Low Box Squat
- Bodyweight Box Squat (a great way to learn the technique
Box Squat Alternatives
These alternatives will help to stimulate and work the body in similar ways.
- Hatfield Squat
- Goblet Squats
- ½ to ¾ Depth Back Squat
If you still have questions unanswered, scroll through our FAQs.
Are Box Squats more Effective?
No. But they are a great addition when you want to improve your technique, test your body in new ways and go easy on your knees. Box Squats are a great way to improve your numbers on your other Squat lifts.
Why are Box Squats Bad?
They aren’t. Like any barbell lift, when performed correctly they are safe.
Why are Box Squats so much Easier?
With this type of Squat you can reach back further than with a regular Back Squat. This places more work on the posterior chain (especially the hamstrings) and will help the progress of your Squatting in general.
Do Box Squats Build Muscle?
Yes, Box Squats build a great deal of muscle. The slow movement, heavy weights and extensive time under tension all contribute to making this an excellent exercise for strength, muscle and mass.
Are Box Squats Good for Beginners?
Yes, they are a good exercise for beginners because they will reinforce good lifting technique and movement patterns for the Squat.