Simple Guide to Doing a Proper Barbell Box Squat

Simple Guide to Doing a Proper Barbell Box Squat

Strengthening your legs can improve balance, agility and coordination, as well as add power when you need it.

The barbell box squat is a popular exercise that targets the lower body and can help you achieve these fitness goals.

Learn how to do it properly with our simple guide!

What is a Barbell Box Squat?

A barbell box squat is a strength exercise that activates all muscles in the lower body to promote powerful and explosive movements.

Utilizing an elevated platform or box allows you to reach a deeper range of motion, activating more muscles and increasing core and upper body control.

By using this exercise regularly you can increase leg strength, power and athleticism.

Benefits of Box Squats

There are several benefits of performing barbell box squats, including:

  1. Improved form and technique: By using a box or bench, the lifter has a physical reference for proper squat depth, which can help to correct any technical issues they may have.
  2. Increased quadriceps activation: The box squat places more emphasis on the quadriceps muscles as the lifter descends and rises from the box, leading to increased activation and growth of these muscles.
  3. Improved explosiveness: The box squat can be used to develop explosive power and speed, as the lifter must push against the box to generate enough force to rise out of the squat.
  4. Increased glute activation: By sitting back on the box, the lifter is able to better target the glute muscles, which can lead to improved activation and growth of these muscles.
  5. Reduced stress on the knees and lower back: The box squat reduces the range of motion of the traditional squat, which can help to reduce stress on the knees and lower back. This can make it a useful exercise for those with knee or lower back issues.

Muscles Worked by the Bar Box Squat

The barbell box squat primarily works the following muscle groups:

  1. Quadriceps
  2. Glutes
  3. Hamstrings
  4. Adductors
  5. Lower back

In addition to these primary muscle groups, the barbell box squat also works several other muscle groups in the body, including the calf muscles, the abdominal muscles, and the upper back and shoulders.

Box Squats Enhance General Squat Form

The barbell box squat can be used to enhance squat form in several ways:

Proper Depth

By using a box or bench as a reference point, lifters can ensure that they are squatting to the proper depth. This can help to eliminate any issues with shallow squats, which can place unnecessary stress on the knees and lower back.

Improved Hip and Knee Alignment

The box squat can help to promote proper hip and knee alignment, as the lifter must sit back on the box and keep their knees tracking over their toes during the descent.

Reduced Forward Lean

By sitting back on the box, lifters are encouraged to maintain an upright torso position, which can help to reduce the forward lean that often occurs during traditional squats. This can reduce stress on the lower back and improve overall squat form.

Better Hip Drive

The box squat can help to improve hip drive, as the lifter must push against the box to rise out of the squat. This can help to develop explosive power and increase glute activation.

How to Setup the Equipment for a Barbell Box Squat.

To begin a barbell box squat, you will need to set up a barbell on the rack in front of the box or platform. The box should be about two steps behind the barbell. Make sure that the barbell is at about shoulder level.

From here, you will need to adjust the clips on the weight plates so that they are properly locked in place.

Barbell Box Squat Form

Take the weighted bar off the rack, resting it on your rear shoulder muscles.

Then, take two full steps back and stand with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing slightly out. You should be positioned over the box or platform.

Keep your spine aligned by looking at a spot on the floor about two meters in front of you, then sit back and down as if you’re going to sit in a chair.

Descend until your glutes touch the box and sit back on it slightly.

Push against the box and through your heels to get back into a standing position.

Repeat until you have reached your desired reps.

Good Form Tips

Keep a Neutral Spine and Chin

Pick a point with which you will maintain eye contact throughout the movement. Dropping your chin can put your back at risk for rounding, making the movement more difficult and leading to injury.

Keep Your Chest Up

Take a deep breath before you start the movement, press your tongue to the roof of your mouth, and hold your breath as you lower. Then, as you push the weight back up, be sure to exhale. Keeping your chest up throughout the movement will allow you to lift more weight and will reduce your risk of spinal injury.

Push Your Elbows Forward

Engage your lats and focus on pushing your elbows forward. When your elbows go back, it encourages your shoulders to rotate internally, making maintaining a neutral spine position challenging.

Line Your Knees up With Your Toes

Your feet should be roughly shoulder width apart and slightly turned out. As you push your hips back and bend at the knees, focus on driving your knees out instead of pushing them forward. This will help keep your knees aligned with your toes while going down and coming back up.

Note: it doesn’t matter if your knees go over your toes, but you don’t want them to turn inward.

Keep Your Heels Planted

Your weight needs to be on your heels and mid-foot throughout the entire movement. Transferring the weight to the balls of your feet puts extra pressure on your knees.

How to Perform a Box Squat – Step By Step

This squat variation requires a barbell, weights, a lifting or squat rack, box or platform, and as the weight gets heavier, some sort of failsafe to catch the weight if you need to bail.

Here are step-by-step instructions for completing box squats:

  1. Stand in front of the loaded barbell gripping it slightly wider than your shoulders.
  2. Lower your head and shoulders under the bar and push your traps into the bar, pulling it into them by engaging your lats and pushing your elbows forward.
  3. Align your feet under the bar slightly wider than your shoulders and push through your heels to lift it off the rack. Keep your chest up and neck neutral even while lifting out of the rack.
  4. Take one step back with each foot, keeping your core tight and the bar controlled.
  5. Stand with your toes angled out at roughly 10:00 and 2:00 and feet slightly wider than your hip distance.
  6. Tighten your core, keeping your spine neutral and your eyes ahead.
  7. Take a breath into your stomach and push your tongue against the roof of your mouth.
  8. Press your hips back, bending your knees and pushing them out, with your heels firmly planted until your glutes make contact with the box, sitting back on it slightly.
  9. Now reverse the entire movement, exhaling as you push up through your heels, not allowing your knees to cave inward. Keep your core engaged and your chest tall throughout the exercise.
  10. After you have completed all the repetitions you intended to, take one step forward with each foot, align the bar with the squat rack, and place the weight back into its holding position.
  11. Notes: if you need to bail because you cannot get the weight back up or onto the rack, always step forward and away from the bar while pulling your arms out from under it. This will prevent you from getting trapped under a weighted bar or injured if you don’t have some sort of failsafe to capture the bar.

Proper Body Positioning and Breathing Technique for Box Squats

When doing the barbell box squat, it’s important to start by positioning your body correctly. Place your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly point your toes outward. Squat down until the tops of your thighs are at least parallel with the floor.

Keep your back in its natural arch, with head and chest high throughout the exercise.

Finally, take a deep breath before you squat down, hold it while you ascend, and expel it as you push back to the standing position again.

Essential Form and Safety Considerations for the Box Squat.

When performing a barbell box squat, it is essential to emphasize proper form and safety.

When sitting on the box, start by pushing your hips lower rather than bouncing off of the surface of the box.

This will ensure a proper switch from eccentric to concentric muscle contractions as you lift off from the bottom position.

What’s the difference between a box squat and a regular squat?

Besides the obvious addition of the box or platform, there is also a slight change in the movement pattern with this squat variation.

Bonus Tips for Optimal Performance and Results with Box Squats.

For best results, try to keep the constant tension on the glutes throughout the entire movement.

Your glute muscles should do most of the work as you push from the bottom and drive up from the box on each rep.

Always rehearse proper technique with bodyweight first before adding more after you are confident in your form.

Aim for consistent reps for each set and take a short rest period between sets to allow for muscle and strength recovery.

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