How Box Squats Can Fix Your Problems and Make You Stronger

Coach Breezy coaching the box squat at our CrossFit gym in Port Orchard, Wa.

The Past couple weeks you may have noticed our Monday strength session has focused on the box squat – the vertical shin cousin of the back squat. We know many of you prefer the back squat, but there are several reasons we do a couple waves of box squats each year. Here are a few:

Give the knees a break

Ever get cranky knees squatting week after week? By working on box squats we can let the knees rest as we are focusing on loading the posterior chain. Don’t hesitate to ask your coach to let you substitute back squats with box squats if your knees aren’t happy.

Quad Dominant?

This variety of squat is an amazing fix for those who have a hard time finding their glutes and hamstrings while squatting. Squatting to a box forces us to send our hips back rather than straight down, allowing us to find a shin angle which is perpendicular to the ground. This creates greater load to our posterior chain than our normal back squat.

Explosive Strength

Exploding up from a seated position forces us to squat from a static contraction to a dynamic contraction. This is a great way to develop explosive strength while lifting much lighter than our normal back squat.

Here’s how we like to execute box squats at our gym:

Box Height

While squatting below parallel is ideal, first we need to make sure our box is set to a height which allows us to be controlled until we reach a seated position. We don’t want to be falling in any phase of the squat. Adding a plate to your box can make up for the couple inches at the bottom where you’re losing control.


We like to use a wider than usual stance, with the toes out a bit. Screw your feet into the floor to drive the knees outward throughout the squat.


You’re likely to see something similar to 22X1. Meaning, we have a controlled descent of two seconds with a two second pause while seated on the box. Following the pause we explode up, followed by a short rest at the top before we begin the next rep.

Shin and Hip Angles

We’re looking to send the hips back creating as close to a vertical shin as possible. If the knees are pushing forward, we’re not loading the posterior chain as much as we’d like. Keep the hips closed after sitting on the box. We want to avoid rocking. This is when the chest rises to an upright position.

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