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You are at your gym training with your same group of like-minded powerlifters. All of you are training box squats during the same session, off of the same box, and out of the same elitefts monolift.

  15 box 15” box at Monster Garage Gym. Photo courtesy of MGG

These sessions typically go something like this….

Each lifter would know exactly how much weight they want on the bar for each progressive warm-up set. Each lifter would know exactly how high they want the rack height for each progressive set. As the weight gets heavier, the geared lifters know exactly how tight or lose they want their suit straps, when to put their knee wraps on, and for all of the powerlifters, they know exactly when they are nearing a red line, max effort squat.

steve brock 12 box

WPC World Powerlifting Champion: Steve Brock. 5’9” tall, using the 12” box with two ½” boards as added height for his rackable cambered box squats with bands. Photo courtesy of MGG

The lifters know this through years of training and honing their craft. Their monolift height, their strap tightness, their warm-up, and working sets weight is exactly what they need it to be, and that is all by careful design. Everything is for a reason and everything is unique to that specific individual powerlifter.

Well, not everything.

All the lifters, with all of these unique variables, are squatting off of the same box. Why? Why have all of these other variables been tweaked and tailored to perfection but yet everyone in the group is squatting off of the same exact box? Is it because there is just the one box at the gym? Is it because that is the box that nobody is currently using? Or is it simply because the lifter never really thought that much about it?

15 box dr. rob

IPF World Powerlifting Champion, Dr. Rob Keyes. 6’3” tall, using the 15” box with one, ½” board as added height for his box squats with bands. Photo courtesy of Bent Nail Photography and MGG

Just like your specificity with regard to the prior list of measurable variables, the height of the box you personally use should be determined by what you specifically need. If the 6’3” guy is just barely hitting below parallel on the box you are also squatting on, and you are 5’9” tall, chances are pretty good that the box you are on is actually reinforcing you to learn to squat above parallel. Additionally, you are failing to work that muscle group that you will need in the meet if you expect to squat to depth.

12 box masom

AWPC World Powerlifting Competitor: Masom Roosh. Using the 12” with several boards as added height for his above parallel overload work. Photo courtesy of Bent Nail Photography and MGG

Although powerlifters often vary with how to actually sit on the box (rock back and let the hamstring curl you up, sit and relax the I.T. bands then tighten up and explode off the box, use the box as a depth check, etc) what 99% of all the powerlifters hitting depth in a meet will agree to is that the height of the box for the individual should measure out to just below parallel, or a couple of inches below parallel, depending on what aspect of your squat you are using the box for. For the occasional overload training, above parallel box work is done (most powerlifters find more benefit to overloading the weight with reverse bands).


Stacks of variable height boards for the non-adjustable boxes. Photo courtesy of MGG

Some questions for you to ponder:

Do you know the height of the box you are using? Is it 15”? 14”? 12”?

Do you know if when you are  using that box that you are, at minimum, breaking the parallel plane?

Do you squat wider with your gear on than when RAW and how does that play into the box height needed?

Have you tried a variety of box heights to see what actually works best for you?

dogs and burgers

There are literally hundreds of other uses for a box in addition to the squat. Photo courtesy of MGG

The reality is, when it comes to the box for squatting, one size does not fit all, and pulling any old box out at the gym and using it can actually serve as a detriment to your training.

At the MONSTER GARAGE GYM we have an array of boxes that we have made in addition to the elitefts box squat we use. Our taller squatters typically use the 15” box and then add boards to it. Our shorter lifters use the 12” box either with or without boards. All our lifters can utilize the elitefts box squat, as it is adjustable.

Something to keep in mind: As long as you have boards that can go on the top of the box, you can adjust the height to your preferred box squat height. So if you are making your own box for box squatting, starting at 12” or less, then add boards or getting an EliteFTS box is your most versatile option. At the MGG we also use the foam pad on top of a low box for those truly masochistic times.

low box with foam

Military Nationals Powerlifting Champion, Ronald Legarreta squatting with the rackable cambered bar, off the adjustable EliteFTS box with the foam pad. Photo courtesy of MGG

More often than we realize, we do things because we have done them before. Then that practice becomes routine. That said, you might have used a given box before when you worked in with another lifter and now that is the box you use. Routine happens. But to get the most out of your training with regard to the box squat, routine without good reason just does not cut it.

Find out your best and most beneficial box height and use it. With regard to so many aspects of the sport of powerlifting, the devil is in the details, and the height of that box you use all the time has details to it that you need to explore and perhaps modify.

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