The Benefits of Doing Box Squats

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Although not as common as many other exercises, the box squat is one of the most effective ways to increase leg strength. Although it is similar to a standard squat, it is far less commonly seen. One of the benefits of doing box squats is that they help get rid of the slight bounce that often occurs at the bottom of a traditional back squat. When you eliminate the bounce, you have to rely solely on your muscles to lift you back up. This makes it incredibly effective for training all of the major muscles in your lower body as well as the middle and upper portion of your back.

When choosing a box height, aim for a height that keeps your thigh positioned less than three inches higher or lower than parallel to the floor. The easiest way to do this is by looking for a box that is the same height as your leg from your knee to your ankle. If you can’t find a box that is tall enough, you can always stack a few mats or weight plates on top of a shorter box to add height. This also can be done straddling a bench if there are no boxes available.

The days you work your legs, try doing four sets of box squats with five reps each in place of a non-functional leg exercise. Start off slowly on the first couple of sets to allow your body to warm up. When it comes time to do the last two sets, increase the weight to a point where it challenges your body but still allows you to maintain proper form. These five tips can help you get better results:

1. Grip The Bar Tightly

Great results start with a proper set-up. Squeeze the bar tightly with your hands positioned shoulder-width apart. Stand under the bar with your shoulders pulled back, allowing it to rest gently on the area just above your shoulder blades.

2. Apply Outward Pressure To The Bar

Tighten up your core, push your elbows forward, and take a deep breath as if you are getting ready to get punched in the gut. Pretend that the bar is actually a towel that you are holding in your hands. Apply outward pressure as if you are pulling the towel tight between your hands, allowing your shoulder blades to drop down. This helps protect your spine by engaging the lats.

Keeping your upper body tight, take the bar off the rack. Next, take a couple of steps backwards. Position the box so that one corner points forward, allowing you to straddle it. Your feet should be turned out and should be just slightly further than shoulder-width apart.

3. Push Your Hips Back

Maintaining a flat back and tight core, push your hips backwards while simultaneously driving your knees outward, making sure to keep your chest up the whole time. A good way to think of it is as if you have a rope looped around your waist that someone is pulling on from behind. Push your hips back as far as you can to keep your knees from jutting out over your feet.

4. Lightly Sit On The Box

Lower slowly down to the box, keeping your back straight and core engaged. To avoid pressure on the spine, don’t just drop down suddenly onto the box. Instead, rest briefly at the box, using the lightest possible pressure, as if the top of the box was covered with broken glass. This brief pause makes it easier for your muscles to transition from squatting down to standing up, minimizing the chances of sustaining an injury while at the same time making the exercise more effective.

5. Explode Off The Box

Pushing your weight through your heels, explode upwards through the hips until you are back to standing. Try not to rock forward off the box, instead relying on your strength to return to standing.

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