There is something the strength community needs to know: box squats and squats to a box are two different things. In this edition of Friday Technique Video, JL Holdsworth shows why.

For first-time box squatters there are several things to watch:

  • Do they control the descent, or do they plop onto the box? If they plop, they need to learn to control the weight all the way down. Have them squat to a box as close to parallel as possible until they strengthen the glutes and hamstrings and can control the descent.
  • Do the lifter’s knees shoot forward? This is common in quad-dominant squatters. If they cannot learn how to sit back, have someone stand in front of them and hold their knees in place while they sit back into the squat.
  • Does the lifter hold his air for the entire rep? If a lifter releases air on the box at the bottom of the squat, they likely won’t be able to stand back up on heavier attempts.
  • Does the lifter look down to search for the box? If so, teach them to keep their head back and not extended to look down.

Once a lifter reaches the box, the back should stay tight and there should be a small rock. Do not just touch and come back up; actually sit on the box. This releases tension from the glutes and hamstrings while keeping the abs, lower back, and lats tight.

Box squats can be used as a max effort, dynamic effort, or accessory movement. Before advancing to using accommodating resistance in the form of bands and chains, master the box squat with straight weight.