By GI Team Generation Iron
Can Box Squats improve your regular squats?
Squatting is the grand daddy of leg exercises. Hell, it’s the king of all exercises. The benefits one can garner from squatting is truly impressive. It’s been said a ton of times, technique is truly the key to performing exercises without injuring yourself. Sure, you could squat 700 lbs and look like a champ, but if you have improper form and get horribly injured in the process then there’s really no point to it all. The reward of injury isn’t really anything to celebrate. It just means you’ll be out of the gym for a long period of time and risk losing all the gains you’ve made.
So with all this talk of technique and form, how exactly can you ensure that you’re performing your squat correctly? At one point many people would’ve said that box squats are the key to improving your technique in the squat. To some extent that’s true, but there’s a catch. Box squats are great for those who are unwilling or unable to perform the average squat, maybe even helping those train their posterior chain. In that regard box squats are great. But do they help your regular squats? The simple answer is no, at least mostly. If that’s true then what are the positives and the drawbacks of box squatting? Let’s take a look.
Like mentioned before, the box squat can improve your posterior chain. The motion of sitting down on a stool or seat allows you to focus on improving your technique to a degree. It will allow you to keep your shins more vertical during the squat and will give you the opportunity to focus on specific muscle groups. Box squatting allows you to work your hamstring, glutes, and groin muscles.
The action can also help you hit consistent depth. This will allow you to squat lower. Instead of performing half squats you’ll be able to get really low on your squat.
But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
The drawbacks of box squats are really connected to the idea of increasing the strength of your regular squat. Just because you can perform a 400 lbs squat while box squatting doesn’t mean you’ll be able to perform the same action when doing a regular squat. The truth of the matter is that box squats don’t engage your entire body. The technique for regular squats is different. You can’t keep your shins completely vertical or you’ll likely lose balance.
Another drawback is that while a box squat doesn’t require you to keep your hips and glutes engaged at all times, seeing as how sitting will allow you a bit of a break, a regular squat requires that the muscles in those areas must remain tight and engaged in order to perform the motion. Keeping the muscles engaged ultimately will improve the strength and stability in your lower half, something you can’t get from box squatting.
The biggest drawback to the box squat is that if you allow yourself to rely on the exercise then it will only prove to weaken your ability to perform a regular squat. End up relying on the box squat and you’ll only end up hindering your strength and development in the regular squat.
If you had to ask for the one alternative that could translate perfectly into any squatting exercise then it would definitely have to be the pause squat. Rather than performing the regular squat and just rushing back up, you hold the squat in the bottom position for a couple of seconds to get the full burn out of the motion. Since this squat requires full range of motion, the action of pausing at the bottom of the squat will increase your endurance and strengthen your overall squatting ability.
This squat will not only improve your strength and muscle endurance but also improve your regular squat form. When you get back to doing your regular squat you’ll see overall improvement in both your one rep max as well as the stability and form of your technique.