What’s the fastest way to grow muscle? The answer is simple. One must perform compound movements. Now, why not isolation exercises? Compound exercises train more than one muscle at once. Isolation exercises train only one muscle. Hence, one can increase muscle through compound exercises.
The squat is considered the king of all exercises. That’s because it’s a compound movement. It involves the entire lower body during the exercise. This helps pack on some serious muscle!
However, not everyone likes the squat. In fact, some may be forced to ignore squats. This could be due to injuries, mobility issues, etc. Fortunately, there’s an alternative to squats. It’s called the Box Squat.
What’s a Box Squat?
A box squat is a variation of the regular squat. You perform the exercise by squatting on a box. You sit on the box when lowering your body. From there, you push back up.
Box Squats target the erector spinae, glutes, and hamstrings. Basically, it’s a hip dominant movement. It emphasises less on the quadriceps though.
Major Differences between Traditional Squats and Box Squats:
Yes, box squats are like regular squats. But there are some major differences. It’s best if everyone knows these differences. This could help in deciding if box squats are for you or no.
1. Squat Depth:
Box squats make it easier to control squat depth. This is difficult in the case of regular squats. Squat depth is how low you should go while squatting. This is necessary to ensure healthy knees.
There’s no box or support in traditional squats. Hence, one may squat lower than recommended. This could destroy your knees. Box squats have a determined level of squat depth. This squat depth level depends on the height of the box. Thus, it’s safer while performing box squats.
2. Pressure on Knees:
Box Squats are easier on the knees. How bulletproof are everyone’s knees? Some have knee pain, some don’t. This exercise is a saviour to those with knee pain. Box squats do not place a lot of pressure on quadriceps. As a result, it shifts the pressure away from the knees.
Regular squats are hard on the knees. They heavily target the quads. Hence, regular squats could aggravate knee pain.
3. Posterior Chain or Quadriceps Dominant:
Box squats are great for loading the posterior chain muscles. These include the latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximi, hamstrings, erector spinae and calves.
The regular squats are great for building huge quadriceps. This is because they are quad dominant movements.
How to Perform the Box Squat!
1. Bodyweight Box Squat:
One could start learning box squats with bodyweight. It’s very much suitable for beginners. This exercise will improve performance on regular weighted squats.
- To perform the exercise, stand in front of a box.
- The box must be three inches or so above the floor.
- Place the feet shoulder-width apart.
- The hands can be extended parallel to the floor. This can help in maintaining balance.
- Begin lowering the body by bending the knees. Focus on squatting backwards. Do this while pushing the hips backwards too.
- Slowly begin to sit on top of the box while lowering down. Once you’ve sat on the box, pause for a second.
- After pausing, slowly push back upwards. Push with your feet while moving through the hips.
- Push upwards till you’ve reached the starting position.
2. Single Leg Box Squats:
If bodyweight box squats aren’t challenging, try these. Basically, they’re box squats performed on a single leg. It offers a great challenge with tremendous muscular development.
- Start by standing on one leg in front of the box. Extend your hands parallel to the ground.
- Squat on one leg by bending the knee. Do this while pushing your hips backwards.
- Once you reach down, sit down on the box.
- Push upwards with the same foot to reach the starting position.
- Repeat with the second leg to complete the exercise.
3. Front Box Squats:
This exercise will improve performance on barbell front squats. However, this exercise requires a loaded barbell.
- Hold the barbell across the shoulders in front. Do this while standing in front of the box.
- To keep it steady, ensure you cross your hands over the barbell.
- Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart.
- Begin lowering yourself by bending the knees. Ensure the hips are moving backwards.
- Slowly begin to sit on top of the box.
- Pause for a second then begin pushing up. Do this by pushing through your feet carefully. Push up until you reach the starting position.
Do’s and Don’ts:
- Consciously focus on contracting your glutes. This must be done throughout the exercise.
- Ensure that muscles are not relaxed while sitting on the box.
- Pause only for 1-2 seconds when sitting on the box.
- Ensure that you don’t slam yourself onto the box. The downward motion must be slow and controlled.
- Don’t forget to contract the core. The core muscles are essential. They help improve one’s performance to the fullest.
Don’t Have a Box for a Box Squat?
A box isn’t a requirement to perform the box squat. One could grab a chair to perform the exercise. Similarly, a bench or short wall would work too. The equipment should be three-five inches in height. This exercise requires very limited equipment.
Biggest Benefits of Box Squats:
1. It stops a person from cheating during the exercise:
Cheating involves half-reps. When you cheat, you do not activate the correct muscles. In a box squat, you squat till you sit on the box. This encourages hamstring and glute activation to get up from the box. Thus, it promotes clean reps and muscle activation.
2. Incredible gains:
Box Squats increase strength and muscular gains. It targets the entire lower body. This increases testosterone which benefits muscle growth.
3. Right form:
Box Squats help learn the right form. This is especially important for beginners. Box squats can help those untrained in squats. It encourages the right fixed movement. This is possible because of the box equipment.
The individual goes through the right biomechanical movement. Thus, this encourages good form.
4. Happy knees:
Box Squats can bulletproof the knees. They do not load the knees unnecessarily. Thus, the knees can adapt to the weighted movement safely.
The knees will be in a healthier position. They will handle more weight with successful training.
This is important for beginners and experienced lifters. Many struggle with the bottom of the squat. This is because of the transition during the exercise. The transition between concentric (down) into eccentric (up) in a squat.
Box squats help in training the muscles during this transition. This ultimately results in stronger lifts.
6. They help in working around injuries:
Regular squats aren’t the best for those with injuries. This is especially applicable to those with knee or hamstring injuries. Such injuries limit a person’s squat to a few inches.
Box squats aid in training during these injuries. They help train the squat movement in a safe manner.
Box squats offer a ton of benefits. They are great for improving strength gains. The exercise also helps overcome plateaus. This is especially important when one hits a regular squat plateau.
Apart from performance, it is safe and easy to progress with. Therefore, it is always beneficial for beginners. Hence, one must include box squats in their routine.