The Box Squat and Why it is King

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When it comes to squats, the box squat stands out as a powerful and effective exercise. In this article, we will explore why the box squat deserves the title of the king of squats. We will delve into its safety benefits, its ability to target specific muscle groups, its application for ball sport and track athletes, the frequency of incorporating it into training routines, and the optimal box height for maximum results.

1. The Safest Way to Squat for All Athletes:

One of the primary advantages of the box squat is its inherent safety. By utilizing a box, lifters are unable to handle as much weight as they would in a free squat, reducing the risk of injury. Additionally, when performed correctly, the lifter sits back, causing the shins to surpass perpendicular to the floor. This intentional positioning redirects stress to the desired muscle groups – the hamstrings, glutes, hips, and lower back – while minimizing strain on the quads and patella.

2. Enhancing the Free Squat:

Unlike the free squat, where the emphasis shifts to the quads and places increasing stress on the patella as weights become heavier, the box squat primarily engages the hamstrings and glutes. The lifter, upon sitting back onto the box, is required to leg curl to ascend, intensifying the movement. On average, athletes can typically lift around 15% more weight in a free squat compared to a box squat.

Moreover, the box squat breaks down the eccentric and concentric phases of the lift, eliminating the rebound effect experienced in free squats. This absence of bouncing out of the bottom position makes transitioning back to free squats during competitions more manageable, as there is no need to rely on the leg curl motion to initiate the ascent.

3. Box Squat Benefits for Ball Sport and Track Athletes:

a) Lateral Speed and Explosive Strength: Wide stance box squatting can significantly enhance lateral speed and explosive strength. Moreover, athletes can safely incorporate box squats into their training regimen more frequently, as this variation generates less soreness compared to free squats.

b) Sport-Specific Movements: Box squatting mimics scenarios commonly encountered in various sports, such as holding a bottom position for an extended period before exploding forward or vertically. For instance, offensive linemen waiting for a long snap must demonstrate strength and stability before engaging with the opposition. By incorporating box squats, athletes can effectively train for such demanding situations.

4. Finding the Right Balance: Box Squat vs. Free Squat Frequency:

Determining the ideal balance between box squats and free squats varies on a case-by-case basis. In the initial stages, it is advisable to introduce athletes to free squats to enhance their body control and overall strength. Implementing a belt squat can help maintain an upright position during this phase. Once athletes demonstrate proficiency in box squatting and exhibit controlled eccentric movements, it becomes the primary focus of their squat training. Occasionally, variations like Anderson squats or Hatfield squats can be integrated, but box squats remain the core exercise.

5. Optimal Box Height Selection:

The choice of box height is subjective and dependent on an individual’s capabilities at any given time. The goal is to improve mobility, enabling athletes to achieve a squat depth slightly below parallel. Rotating between box heights that are just below parallel, parallel, and slightly above parallel can provide a comprehensive training stimulus while preventing stagnation and accommodating individual needs.


the box squat’s position as the ultimate squat variation. If you’re searching for a personal trainer near me who can guide you through the proper execution of the box squat and help you maximize its benefits, look no further.

in strength,

Kalil Sherrod

-Westside Barbell Personal Training and Athletic Coaching Certified
-Byrd Sports Performance Certified Coach

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