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Using Box Squats For Athletes

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Using the Box Squat for Athletes

The box squat has been made famous by Westside Barbell and Louie Simmons. There is still a fair amount of skepticism over the benefits of box squatting when compared to squatting without a box. At Showtime Strength & Performance, we will primarily use a box when squatting with our athletes. We have found this to be beneficial for both in-season and out-of-season athletes. It’s not a tool reserved only for competitive lifters and we actually think more people should primarily use the box. Lets take a further look at how to properly box squat, how not to box squat, the benefits and when to apply it to your setting.

How not to Box Squat:

1. The box should be set to where the top of the hip is at parallel or one inch below parallel. Many times people believe they can box squat more than they free squat because they have raised the box height two to six inches above parallel. This isn't correct. Your box squat should be 10-20% less than your maximum free squat.

2. Don’t crash onto the box. When you crash onto the box you're losing all tightness from the ground up into the bar. It should be very controlled as if there was no box there

3. Rocking back excessively In some of Louie’s articles he mentions letting the hip flexors release so you can roll back a little on the box. The problem is when you allow yourself to rock back 2-4 inches. However far backwards you rock, you'll have to come back the opposite way as much. So rock back 4 inches then you will rock 4 inches forward past your center of gravity. This will place much of the stress on the quads and knees instead of hamstrings and hips.

4. Lifting feet up I have seen a handful of top level lifters that will pick their toes up slightly when on the box to almost help act aas a catapult. But I have seen several other athletes pick their feet up off the ground while on the box. This is incredibly dangerous and should never be done. This means everything is relaxed because the force from the ground up thru the entire body has been broken. The feet should never move, but they should pushing out to the side the entire movement, this helps to activate the glutes.

How to correctly Box Squat- For video learners, here is a video with one of our high school athletes performing the box squat https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xsa6v3WATPA

b2ap3_thumbnail_showtimestrength_33686653_169586443887827_2108812986532495360_n.jpg1 The hips break back first. This puts stress into the hamstrings and gluten instead of the quads and knees.

2 Push the knees out to the side. For many of our younger athletes, we will take a tied mini band and place it around the bottom of their knees. This will give them a sensory cue to force the knees out activating the glutes.

3 Continue descent under control until you reach the box softly. Once there, pause for a second and then push your feet out even harder to begin back up.

A few simple technique tips

•   Head back into the bar - not down, forward or straight up

•   The chest has to remain as big as possible and never drop. Any drop of the chest will change the bar path

•   The stomach should be full of air and forced out all the way around the torso

•   Elbows should be underneath the bar. If they're back behind the bar, then it will shove the bar forward

How to use it with athletes

- We will squat off a box almost every week with our athletes. For middle school athletes we will usually follow a progression such as:

•   Bodyweight w/Arms Crossed Box Squat

•   Kettlebell Box Squat

•   Training Bar Box Squat

•   Barbell Box Squat

•   Barbell w/Bands or Chains Box Squat

There is no time frame on how long an athlete will be at each stage, it is all dependent on the individual athlete. Some will be with a barbell in a few sessions and others it might take a few months. Both are fine, but be sure to change the stimulus at some point to keep the athlete progressing.

Benefits of Box Squat over Free Squat

•   Hits depth every repetition

•   Break eccentric/concentric chain (develops more starting strength because there is no stretch reflex)

•   Builds athletes confidence

•   Can help teach the athlete to reach back with hips instead of shooting forward

•   Can alter box height to above parallel to help teach proper technique or can also drop box below parallel to increase mobility of the hips

•   A box squat will last longer than a free squat, which will give a coach a little more time to coach each repetition if there is dysfunction in the movement

For more information on this topic, feel free to email me at nick@showtimestrength.com

Nick Showman

Showtime Strength & Performance-Owner







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Guest Saturday, 11 July 2020