Box Squat: How to Perform, Benefits & Expert Tips 

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The box squat is an extraordinary exercise that can increase your regular squat and build huge legs when done correctly.  

Unfortunately, the box squat is often performed sub-optimally, leading to less gains and an increased risk of injury. This is why learning how to perform the box squat correctly right from the get-go is so important.  

Let’s dive right into it and take a look at how to perform the box squat, the benefits that come with box squats, and some expert tips to speed up your progress.  

What Are Box Squats? 

Box squats are a variation of the traditional squat exercise that involves sitting back onto a box or bench before standing back up.  

They are known for their ability to improve strength, address specific sticking points, and develop the posterior chain muscles. 

How to Do Box Squats 

Step 1 — Get Set 

The first step to proper box squat form is to set up a sturdy box or bench behind you. Position yourself in front of the box with your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider.  

Engage your core, lift your chest, and maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement. 

Step 2 —  Unrack the Barbell 

If using a barbell, unrack it from the squat rack and position it across your upper back, resting it on your trapezius muscles. Take a step or two back to clear the rack. 

Step 3 — Push the Hips Back and Squat Down 

Initiate the movement by pushing your hips back, as if you were sitting onto the box. Simultaneously, bend your knees and descend into a squat position. Aim to lower yourself until your glutes make contact with the box, but do not relax onto it. 

Step 4 — Briefly Pause, then Stand Up 

Once you reach the box, briefly pause to eliminate any momentum. Maintain tension in your muscles and then forcefully drive through your heels, extending your hips and knees to stand back up to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions. 

3 Benefits of Doing Box Squats 

Increase Concentric Strength  

One of the main box squat benefits is that they can help you develop explosive concentric strength, which is crucial for powerlifting, weightlifting, and other sports that require rapid force production. 

Posterior Chain Development  

Box squats place significant emphasis on the posterior chain muscles, including the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.  

This can lead to improved muscle development and enhanced performance in activities like sprinting and jumping. 

Address Sticking Points in the Back Squat  

Box squats allow you to train specific sticking points in the back squat. By breaking up the movement into distinct concentric and eccentric phases, you can work on overcoming weaknesses and improve your overall squatting technique. 

Box Squat Variations 

Pause Box Squat 

In this variation, you pause for a brief moment on the box before standing back up. This helps build starting strength and reinforces proper technique. 

It’s also one of the most effective box squat variations. 

Low Box Squat 

By using a lower box or bench, you increase the range of motion and challenge your muscles at a deeper squat depth.  

This can enhance muscle development and flexibility. 

Box Squat with Accommodating Resistance 

Incorporating resistance bands or chains to the box squat adds accommodating resistance.  

This variation provides variable loading throughout the movement, challenging your muscles at different points and promoting strength gains. 

Box Squat Alternatives 

Hatfield Squat 

The Hatfield squat, named after powerlifter Fred Hatfield, involves squatting with the assistance of a barbell or safety squat bar held in front of you. It helps minimize spinal compression while targeting the lower body muscles.   

½ to ¾  Depth Back Squat 

This variation involves performing squats at a limited range of motion, stopping at half or three-quarters depth. It can be helpful for individuals who struggle with mobility or have specific strength goals. 

Goblet Squat 

Holding a kettlebell or dumbbell close to your chest, you perform goblet squats. Thie goblet squat, or box squat dumbbell helps improve squat mechanics, core stability, and overall lower body strength. 

How to Work Out Safely and Avoid Injury 

  • Warm up adequately before starting your box squats to prepare your muscles and joints for the exercise. 
  • Focus on maintaining proper form and technique throughout the movement. 
  • Use an appropriate box height that allows you to reach parallel or slightly below, ensuring a safe and effective range of motion. 
  • Gradually increase the weight and intensity over time as your strength and proficiency improve. 
  • Listen to your body and avoid pushing through pain or discomfort that could indicate an injury. 

Box Squat Sets and Reps 

The number of sets and reps can vary depending on your goals and training program. Typically, performing 3-5 sets of 6-12 repetitions with proper form and challenging weight is effective for strength and muscle development.

Adjust the sets, reps, and intensity based on your individual needs and capabilities. 

Common Box Squat Mistakes 

Incorrect Depth 

Failing to reach the desired squat depth can limit the benefits of the exercise. Aim to squat until your glutes lightly touch the box without fully relaxing onto it. 

Sitting Too Long 

Avoid resting or bouncing on the box for an extended period. Maintain tension in your muscles and use the box as a guide rather than relying on it for support. 

Not Pausing 

Skipping the brief pause on the box eliminates the benefits of breaking up the movement and developing starting strength. Emphasize the pause to enhance your explosive power. 

Muscles Worked by the Box Squat 

Quadriceps 

One of the main box squat muscles worked is the quads. The front thigh muscles are the primary movers in the box squat, particularly during the concentric (standing up) phase. 

Hamstrings and Glutes 

These muscles play a significant role in hip extension and are heavily engaged during the box squat, especially during the eccentric (lowering) phase and when driving up from the bottom position. 

Who Should Do the Box Squat 

Strength and Power Athletes 

Box squats are commonly used by strength and power athletes, such as powerlifters, weightlifters, and football players, to improve explosive strength, muscle development, and performance. 

General Fitness 

Box squats can benefit individuals looking to increase lower body strength, enhance muscle development, and improve overall fitness. 

Box it Out 

Incorporating box squats into your training routine can be a valuable addition to your leg workout.  

By understanding the proper technique, variations, and benefits, you can maximize your box squats for glutes gains, address specific weaknesses, and enhance your overall squatting performance.  

Remember to consult with a fitness professional (or try out the box squat Reddit) if you have any concerns or specific training needs, and enjoy the rewards of box squats in your fitness journey. 

Box Squat – FAQs 


What Is a Box Squat Good For? 

The box squat is good for increasing strength and getting past squat plateaus.  

Are Box Squats As Effective As Squats? 

No, box squats are not as effective as squats. 

The limited range of motion reduces muscle hypertrophy, making it less effective than squats. 

It is, however, good as an accessory exercise to get past squat plateaus.  

What Is The Difference Between A Box Squat And A Regular Squat? 

The difference between a box squat and a regular squat is that the box squat has a smaller range of motion to allow for heavier weights, while regular squats do not use a box and have a larger range of motion.  

Is Box Squat Harder Than Regular Squat? 

No, the box squat is not harder than the regular squat.  

The main difference when it comes to box squats vs normal squats is that the box squat has a smaller range of motion, making the exercise easier.  

Are Box Squats Bad for My Knees? 

No, box squats are not bad for your knees if you practise good form. 

However, if you practise poor form or experience knee pain when doing the box squats, you might want to re-learn how to do the exercise or find a different squat variation.  

If I Can Squat to Full Depth, Should I Box Squat? 

Yes, you should box squat if you can squat to full depth. 

This is because box squats can help you bust past plateaus with regular squats, making them a great accessory exercise once you are an intermediate lifter.  

What Height Should I Box Squat Too? 

The height you box squat is completely up to you.  

You could decide to go with a super heavy weight and only do a very small range of motion, or you could lower the weight to something more reasonable and do a moderate range of motion. 

It depends on your goals and what you want to achieve.  

We hope this article has been able to give you a better insight into the box squat. 

If you follow everything we have said today and decide to include the box squat in your routine, you will almost certainly not regret it. 

For more fitness advice, feel free to check out the rest of the content we have at MovingForwards.