Here at Motiv we have been going through some waves of utilizing the box squat within our workouts instead of squatting normally. I have had a few people ask, why are we doing these? What does the box do that a regular squat doesn’t? Here are some big reasons why we are implementing them into our workouts.
- The box squat is safer. How so? When squatting down to a solid stable object such as a box our mechanics have to be different than a normal squat. The spine for instance is not loaded as heavy, not because the weight may not be the same on the bar but rather because of our bodies position in the box squat compared to the raw squat. In box squats you should be pushing your hips back first before breaking the knees and squatting down. This will put more tension and pressure into your major muscles of the hips, glutes and hamstrings. It has also been shown that because of our bodies angle in this style of squat the box squat is safer due to the vertical shin angle it creates. Less pressure is targeted to the patellar tendon of the knee in a properly executed box squat.
- Expedited recovery time. Typically we use the variation of the box squat as an accessory movement, meaning that this specific exercise is meant to strengthen our main movement, in this instance the squat. When we use accessory movements we don’t normally go as heavy as we would for the main lift. Around 15% lighter weight is used when performing the box squat. This has its benefits. Because we are not going as heavy there is less tissue breakdown as a result from the movement. This could be reasoning as to why we may not feel as sore and ready to go again much faster than we do when squatting without the box.
- Ensures proper depth. We almost all have trouble hitting depth in our squats. I hear it all the time in the gym, “Was that low enough?” “Does that count?”. Well when we perform the box squat you know 100% of the time if you’ve gone low enough. You should set the box height to be slightly below parallel even if you aren’t a competitor. This will ensure yourself that you have reached the proper depth even when that box is not there to be your true teller. Teaching the body to squat slightly below will ensure that you will never miss a lift in competition if you compete.
- Teaches Explosive Power. The box squat is a great tool to use that will teach everyone to develop great amounts of force coming out of the hole or in this instance off the box. With the box stopping us from coming straight back up we are not able to use the stretch shortening cycle (SCC) that most of use in the squat or olympic lifts. This is when we “bounce” out of the bottom of a squat or clean to stand back up to our starting position. The box breaks up the phases of the eccentric (coming down) and the concentric (coming up) of the squat, by us sitting down and back once on the box before standing up. Because of this we lose some of the kinetic or stored energy in the body and forces the lifter to reverse the movement and use more explosive strength to overcome the energy lost.
- Builds The Posterior Chain. Because we are able to squat much wider in a box squat we put more force and tension into the muscles of our hamstrings, hips and glutes. Almost everyone is anterior chain dominant, meaning the front half of our bodies are stronger than our back half. Lots of pushing movements take over the minds of young adults, the appeal of bench pressing 4x a week without adequate time spent on our back half is just hurting our bodies. This leaves the posterior chain vulnerable for injury, especially the low back muscles when the same person goes to deadlift, row or even pick an object up from off the floor. We run the risk of pulling a muscle or injuring ourselves some other way. In the box squat we strengthen the entire posterior chain which in return aids in improved health of the low back and stronger/safer pulling mechanics.