How To Box Squat Properly: The Complete Guide

How To Box Squat

The Complete Guide on How to Box Squat properly to build leg, glute, hip, and hamstring strength and power! This is the proper powerlifting form and technique to get stronger.

Get our 12-Week Squat Program >>

Page Contents:

Get our 12-Week Squat Program >>

Why Box Squat?

The Box Squat is one of the most commonly used variations of the Squat. It utilizes a box to:

  • Teach Proper Squatting Technique
  • Decrease the Stress of Heavy Squatting
  • Build Strength at Specific Depths

The box squat breaks the squat into 3 parts so that you can focus on perfecting each part of the lift separately.

  1. By descending under control onto the box you will learn to better control the descent of a squat.
  2. The pause on the box allows you to ensure that your body stays tight at the bottom of the squat and builds strength at that specific depth.
  3. To come off the box you must use more force than normal by exploding up with your hips and legs in unison building explosive strength.

The box squat is simply the best way to perfect your squat form while building strength; other than performing more squats.

Your deload weeks are a great time to work on your box squat. And advanced lifters can use it for their main lift on Base Work sessions to take off some stress from the intense weights.

Get our 12-Week Squat Program >>

Proper Box Height

First, always make sure you use a box that is strong enough to withstand the weight you are going to put onto it during your squat. Also, make sure that the box is not going to wobble or slide when you sit down.

The box height can vary based on your goals and mobility. If you lack the mobility to sit onto a parallel box with proper form, then start at a height about 1 inch below where you can maintain form and lower the box height 1 inch every 2-3 weeks as your mobility improves. This will help build strength in the new positions your body obtains through increased mobility.

A higher box height will allow for an overload from the parallel box. And a lower box height will under-load the parallel box squat.

Note: Make sure you set the box back far enough that you will not trip over it, but close enough so that you can sit on it without falling backward off balance.

Get our 12-Week Squat Program >>

how to squat 500 lbs book

Get our “How To Squat” Guide!

Everything you need to know about the King of All Exercises!

Includes a 12 Week Squat Program, Workouts, common Squat mistakes and how to fix them! Plus, so much more in this nearly 100-page master guide!

Learn more!

Proper Box Squat Technique


  • Test Full Body Strength
  • Test Leg Strength
  • Build Leg and Core Strength

Prime Movers:

  1. Quadriceps (Legs),
  2. Hamstrings (Legs),
  3. Glutes (Hips)


  • Stance,
  • Bar Placement,
  • Pauses,
  • Front Squat,
  • Accommodating Resistance,
  • Specialty Bars,
  • Assistive Gear,
  • etc.

The Set-Up

Your box squat set-up is all about creating tension in the right places without wasting energy. You need to maintain that same tightness during your entire squat. If you lose tightness then you lose strength.

Grab The Bar

Grasp bar firmly, with thumbs wrapped, as close to your shoulders as you can while maintaining a relatively neutral wrist position, that allows you to still pull the bar into your body.

If you grab too wide, then you will lose back tightness and risk falling out of position. If you grab too close, then you can stress your wrists and will be pushing the bar off your back rather than creating tightness from it.

Find the best position for you, and if you have shoulder or wrist mobility problems you should try to improve them before every training session. You can do this with my How To Warm-Up Guide.

Set Your Feet Directly Under The Bar

Set your feet directly under the bar in your squat stance so that the bar is directly over your midfoot.

If you set your feet behind the bar, then you will waste valuable energy as you have to pull the weight out of the rack from in front of your center of gravity.

You want to be able to stand straight up with the weight and not be out of position.

Set The Bar On Your Back

Squat down and place the bar in the strongest position for you on your upper back; anywhere between the base of your neck and middle of rear deltoids (shoulder muscle).

Note: A higher bar position will emphasize greater knee flexion and less torso lean. A lower bar position will emphasize more torso lean and less knee flexion.

The Unrack

Brace Your Core

Suck in as much air as you can and hold it in, attempting to create as much intra-abdominal pressure as you can, to stabilize your spine. Then press your lips closed to hold the air in while flexing all of the musculature surrounding your entire torso, and forcing the air deep down into your abdomen. This is known as the Valsalva Maneuver.

Hold this tightness throughout your entire set-up.

Pull The Bar Into You

Pull your elbows down and in towards your hips throughout the movement, as if you are going to bend the bar over your back. This keeps that bar locked in and it should never, ever slide out of place, if done properly. 

Push Your Head Back Into The Bar

While keeping a neutral spine, force your head back into the bar, with your eyes straight ahead. Imagine pulling your chin straight back, and never tilt your head up.

Maintain a neutral head position (straight spine) throughout the entire lift with eyes straight ahead.

Stand Straight Up With The Weight

Flex your glutes hard as you simultaneously, extend your knees and hips to lift the bar straight up, just over the rack hooks. Stay tight while you do this.

Walk It Out

Slide one foot at a time back 3-4 inches, or just enough to clear the rack hooks, so you are standing in your squat stance.

The farther you move the more likely you are to be out of position and waste energy. The bar should move straight up and down when you squat, so you do not need to move back very far.

The Box Squat

Foot Position

Toes should point somewhere between 10-45 degrees out depending on your stance width and mobility. Try different positions and see what works best for you.

If your heels come up as you squat or you have trouble getting to depth, then try either turning your toes out more or widening your stance, until you improve your ankle mobility.

Grab The Ground

Suction cup your feet to the ground by spreading your toes as wide as you can, then grasping the floor with your entire foot. Your entire foot (heel, the ball of your foot, and outer edge) should stay locked into the ground.

Then, while clenching your toes into the ground like eagle claws, create torque by externally rotate your feet, as if they were to spin in place, throughout the entire motion.

This movement should flex your entire lower body from your glutes down through your entire legs so that everything is tight, and nothing is loose or relaxed.

Maintain this external rotation torque throughout the lift.

Note: By grabbing the ground with your foot you are simply creating a strong arch in your foot, not rolling your ankle. Your feet should not move out of place or come up at all during these motions. Just create a rotational pressure to stabilize your joints, while your entire foot is locked into the ground.

Re-Brace Your Core

While keeping your entire body tight, again suck in as much air as you can and press it down deep into your abdomen increasing the intra-abdominal pressure. Hold this tightness throughout the entire lift.

Bend At The Hip

Initiate the motion by bending at the waist, pushing your hips back slightly, maintaining a neutral spine as if doing a 3-inch bow. Like doing a good morning. This is a slight motion just to open the hips.

The weight should stay over your midfoot, with no back arching.

Push Your Knees Out

Push your knees out laterally to open your hips throughout the lift. This better engages your hips and makes for a stronger box squat.

Your knees should travel in line with your toes during the entire lift. If they cave in at all then you need to work on your glute strength AND adductor mobility (being able to do the splits better to open up your hips).

Control Your Squat Onto The Box

While maintaining a neutral spine, open your hips and descend back and down bending your knees and hips simultaneously until your hips set softly on the box. DO NOT DROP ONTO THE BOX! Control the entire movement!

While maintaining tightness in your legs and torso, pause on the box for at least 1-2 seconds before forcefully press back up into the bar as you ascend.

Press your knees out and curling your heels into the ground, extending your hip and knees together.

Keep your head neutral and knees out over your foot.

Get our 12-Week Squat Program >>

Key Points

  • Stay tight throughout the entire set-up and squat.
  • Pull the bar into you.
  • Grab the ground with your feet.
  • Torque your knees out throughout the full range of motion.
  • Control your squat, sitting on the box softly.
  • Maintain a neutral spine and head position.
  • Drive back up into the bar to stand.

Always use spotters during your squats for safety.

Get our 12-Week Squat Program >>

how to squat 500 lbs book Get our “How To Squat” Guide!

Everything you need to know about the King of All Exercises!

Includes a 12 Week Squat Program, Workouts, common Squat mistakes and how to fix them! Plus, so much more in this nearly 100-page master guide!

Learn more!

More Exercise Descriptions >>

Mobility Exercises >>