The purpose of this articles is NOT to give a lengthy breakdown of the featured movement. Instead, it is meant to be a quick-hitter that gives a quick overview of movements, concepts and cues commonly used in the conjugate system. We are attempting to bridge the gap between the elite concepts and people just starting out in the system. Even if you are dealing with elite college or pro athletes, chances are they are beginners in the weight room and this system. We want to bring the basic concepts to the masses.

For the most complete and extensive breakdown of the squat, check out Matt Wenning’s ‘So You Think You Can Squat?’ series. This is the best and most in depth look into squatting I have come across.

With our video, we want to point out some things to watch for when teaching the movement and some of the coaching cues we’ve used to help athletes perform the movement with an acceptable level of proficiency that allows them to progress in their training and become more explosive and keep them injury free.

Squat Setup

  • Feet wide, outside shoulder width. Slightly uncomfortable.
  • Always box squat.
  • Toes slightly out, feet torqued out.
  • Pushing out on feet, pinky toe/side of foot out the side of shoe.
  • Head in bar.
  • Elbows pulled forward.
  • Fill stomach with air.
  • Stand up tall with bar, hips under bar.
  • Head in the bar.
  • Big breath into stomach.

Squat Descent

  • Hips back hard.
  • Knees out hard.
  • Push stomach and knees out until you’re on the box.
  • Keep pushing head into the bar on the way down.
  • Pause on the box.
  • Maintain pressure out on feet.

Squat Ascent

  • TOP PRIORITY: First movement is shoulders into the bar
  • Once we get this, a lot of other things seem to fall into place.
  • Kids get their head coming up first.
  • Start to see some snap off the box.
  • As long as the knees and pressure stays out, which usually does, glutes and hips are activated in the proper manner to stress the hips, glutes, and hamstrings.

Coaching Cues: Should Be Limited 1-4 Words

"Chin Up" — Chin should be slightly up before unracking the weight and before you start your decent.

"Fill Your Stomach" — Big breath into your stomach before you start the squat.

"Stand Tall" — You finish where you start. Don’t start your movement rounded over. Having your back locked in and tight also allows you to stress the hips/hammies instead of crushing the low back.

"Back and Open" — Hips back, knees open until you’re on the box. Many people won’t open through the whole decent. The result is usually dropping onto the box instead of keeping tension in the glutes and hamstrings

"Stomach Out, Knees Out" — Pushing your stomach out will usually keep your back arched and stomach tight.

"Head in the Bar" or "Drive Your Shoulders"  Aside from trying to kill the bar, this should be top priority when the athlete is about to come off the box. This will keep their head coming up first and the right muscles firing in the right sequence.

Nate Harvey is the Head Strength Coach of Olympic sports at the State University of New York at Buffalo. His best total is 2450 in the 308 weight class multi-ply division. His best lifts are 1000-pound squat, 750-pound bench and 750-pound deadlift. He has been training for 25 years.

elitefts™ Box Squat Box