What Is a Box Squat: Benefits & Technique

woman sitting on plyobox

Box Squats are a superb squat variation. Beginners need little equipment to perform it. Advanced athletes can add some weight to improve their Squats. Here’s a detailed article that reveals the Box Squats form and its benefits.

What are Box Squats?

A Box Squat is a highly efficient lower-body exercise. You put more emphasis on your glutes and hamstrings here. This exercise requires a box to sit on when box squatting. Box Squats can be performed barehand or with free weights. These include a barbell, kettlebell, or dumbbells.

Before hitting your home gym, check useful information on how to do a Box Squat.

man performing Box Squat chart

Proper Box Squats Form

Depending on your stance and squat depth, you’ll target various muscle groups. There are different variations on how to Box Squat. One of the most popular exercises is a Barbell Box Squat. If you’re a rookie athlete, no probs. Do it with no equipment.

Let’s check the proper Box Squats technique and movement patterns.

1. Get Ready

Before box squatting, place the bar on a squat rack or power rack. Load weight plates if needed. Stand as you do when you perform Back Squats. Set the box height the proper way. Your knees must create a 90-degree angle when you squat.

Place the box a few feet away behind your back. Make sure it’s set behind the line where the barbell is lowered. When you sit down, you mustn’t hit the box with the bar.

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Your toes are pointed straight or slightly outward. The wider stance helps to reduce tense on your knees. This leads to knee injury prevention.

2. Set the Barbell

Stand with your back facing the rack. Unrack the bar from the stand. Brace your core while doing it. Take a step back inside the rack closer to the box. Make sure you don’t hit the box. Your calves are close to the equipment. That will ensure a greater range of motion.

man squatting with barbell

3. Squat Down

It’s time for box squatting. Lower your torso and push your hips back. Keep squatting till your butt is on the box. Your knees are bent and your hips are parallel to the floor. The more you push your hips back, the more you activate your erectors, hamstrings, and glutes.

It’s important to remember to focus on your legs while doing Box Squats. The box is just a guide for proper squat depth. It shouldn’t help you to stand up back.

4. Stand Up

Once you hit the box, make a pause for a second. Like when you Bodyweight Squat, you create momentum to brace forces and stand up. Get back to the standing position and make a brief pause before squatting again. Squeeze your glutes at the top move.

That’s one rep. Do 8-10 reps per set. Such a squatting technique can be trained with no weights at first.

Lifters don’t bounce off the box when they do Box Squats. Brace your core and drive through your heels to stand up. You must feel your leg muscles are amping up.

how to box squat chart

Box Squat: Muscles Worked

As an excellent squat variation, the Box Squat can be added to your lower-body workout program. Such an exercise helps to shape your back and leg muscles. Box Squats target various muscle groups, here’s a checklist.

Hamstrings and Glutes

These muscles are efficiently working out when you box squatting. The impact on your glutes and hamstrings depends on the barbell position and the box height. The lower the barbell is on your back, the greater hip flexion you’ll get.


Quadriceps are highly engaged when you lift the bar. Your quads extend your knees while standing up. The box height affects the engagement of the quads. The lower the box, the more efficiently your muscles are working during the training. Choose a box that makes you sit with your legs bent at 90 degrees.

woman performing Box Squat with plates

Erector Spinae Muscles

The erectors include iliocostalis, longissimus, and spinalis. These are back muscles that are also involved in the Box Squat. Erector Spinae muscles are activated more when you do the Back Squat rather than the Front Squat.

The Posterior Chain

All the muscles mentioned above make up the Posterior Chain. These are the spine and leg muscles at the back. Here, we can also add latissimus dorsi and calves. Box Squats are excellent training for powerlifters to work on this muscle group.

woman performing Box Squats

CrossFit Box Squats Benefits

So, why do Box Squats? The Box Squat is an effective way to shape your legs. Lots of variations allow lifters to manage their range of motion. Such exercises require little to no equipment that you can easily perform at your home gym.

Here’s a list of benefits of box squats that power lifters should consider.

1. Train the Proper Squat Form

Barehand Box Squats is a great way to learn how to squat properly. This is highly beneficial for beginner athletes. The proper form leads to proper muscle activation.

Check your posture when box squatting. Keep your stance wide for better stability. Pull your hips back and break parallel to the ground. You have to focus on your legs more. Bodyweight squats provide a great range of motion that affects knee flexion.

Once you slay this form, you can level up by adding extra weights. For example, try Dumbbell Squats and Goblet Squats.

2. Improve Your Strength

Powerlifters focus on lifting as much weight as possible. They add weights gradually to gain strength. Box Squats can help a power lifter to nail proper top and bottom movement of the Squat. That’s a good alteration or addition to the Front and Back Squat.

3. Posterior Chain Activation

Engage your glutes and hamstrings when box squatting. Your quads and calves are amping up as well. The Box Squat is an efficient exercise for leg muscle activation. It will make a great impact on non-box squat variations and power output.

High Box Squat with Safety Bar

Box Squat vs Regular Squat

So, what’s the difference between the Box Squat vs Regular Squat? The Regular Squat provides a full range of motion. While the Box Squat makes a different impact on leg muscles. Depending on the box height, you can adjust the level of muscle engagement. This helps to work on various sticking points in certain squat phases.

As for the performance, both types can be done barehand. Or you can add some weight instead. However, the Box Squat, as its name implies, requires a box or a bench to put your butt on when squatting. The Box Squat and Regular Squat are highly efficient for a lifter to gain strength.

Louie Simmons from Westside Barbell explains the advantages of box squatting. He says that the exercise is great for building muscle. And you need little weight to do that. When box squatting, lifters break the eccentric-concentric chain. This process is called “collision”. As a result, much of the energy is dissipated when you move. However, some energy accumulated during the eccentric phase remains in muscles.

The kinetic energy loss and stretch reflex loss are the main factors that differentiate the Regular Squat from the Box Squat. Different weights can be used when performing these exercises with the same depth. Using less weight to perform heavier Box Squats is a great perk. Thus, recovery after such squats is quicker.

Box and power rack

Box Squat Variations

1. Bodyweight Squat

Great training for beginners. Use the same box squatting movement but with no equipment loaded on your upper body. It can be easily done at your home gym. You can place a yoga mat under the box or bench to protect your floor. Place your arms folded at the chest level or extended in front of you.

2. High Box Squats

The difference between High Box Squats and Regular Box Squats is that you need a box of a knee height. A plyometric box is ideal. Alternatively, you can use a batch of steps or anything that can withstand a few hundred pounds. When you squat, make a pause for a second or two to avoid the rebound effect. Do 10-12 reps per set.

3. Low Box Squats

In order to engage glutes more, try this variation. You need the same set-up but get a lower box or bench. This allows performing a deep box squatting. Do 10-12 reps per set.

4. Lateral Box Squats

This workout engages your adductors (inner thighs) better. You’ll need a box of the same height when you do the regular Box Squat. You can get a kettlebell or a dumbbell for better resistance. The move is a bit different here.

Place the box behind you and step to the left. Your right leg lines up with the left edge of the box. Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart. And your toes are slightly pointed out.

Put your hands in front of you if you perform bodyweight squatting. In case you use a free weight, hold it down in front of you. That’s your starting position.

Squat to the box side while bending your right knee. Push your hips back until you sit down on the box. At the moment, your left leg is straight. Make a pause for a second and get back to the starting point by extending your right leg. That’s one rep. Do 6-10 reps per set. Then switch sides. Do another 6-10 reps per set.

box and barbell on the floor

Nail the Box Squatting Exercise

The Box Squat is a tremendous workout to tone your lower body. Train the proper squatting move with this exercise. Make it more challenging by adding weights.

Box Squats are beneficial for powerlifters and weightlifters as they improve strength. The squat depth depends on your range of motion and muscle activation. An array of variations allow you to target specific muscle groups.

Apart from Box Squats, we recommend Split Squats and Jump Squats. These are excellent workouts for a home gym routine.

Image Source: shutterstock.com, t-nation.com.