Box Squats

Debating what general exercise is better for track and field is irrelevant; as Charlie often said this would be something that is ‘chicken soup’. When selecting general exercises the coach should look at the athletes’ level of preparedness and individual orthopedic concerns.

The angular velocity, force, acceleration, and other kinetics along with the kinematics of all joints cannot be replicated by any sort of weight room exercise.

The only requirement for a sprinter to get better at his individual event is to practice his individual event (simply put, the SAID principle); arguing over one general exercise or another is pure speculation, sure if an athlete lacks ‘posterior chain’ strength/cross section properly developing it MAY improve sport results, but it is doubtful and doesn’t account for a myriad of other factors.

Just look at the work of Bondurachuk and other scientists; as an athlete moves further to the right (or higher up) in terms of sports results the room for improvement from general exercises decreases. That is why lower level athletes improve more from general exercises more than elite/high level athletes.

They are,as long as they communicate properly with the hamstrings. If they are not they do interfere. In all athletes I have worked with I have rarely if ever seen a hamstring problem being a hamstring problem really!

Not really. As such it would always limit performance no matter the version of it (box or not!).

From the article: While descending in the squat, never squat down. Always squat back! If you push the glutes back, the knees will not go forward. In fact, if you sit back far enough, the shins will be past vertical. This is only possible with box squatting

That is how I taught the squat, and it is possible with more than the box squat, can be done with bum to ground.

Go a bit further. I was taught a squat is a leg straightening exercise, the hammies glutes etc come into play for stabilisation.

whenever i squat i rarely feel any quad soreness the next day after my first few squat sessions, but always feel tender glutes

Unfortunately, Youtube is not the same thing as an EMG study:\Artigos\Educacao%20Fisica\Musculação%20e%20Condicionamento%20Fisico\The%20Effect%20of%20Back%20Squat%20Depth%20on%20the%20EMG.pdf

It appears that, conversely to what Mr. Simmons says, a full Oly squat is what will activate your posterior chain the most…or at least the most important part of your posterior chain, the gluteus maximus (and one could assume the medius and minimus as well).

Also, it appears that the vastus lateralis and rectus femoris are very active during the start and during the max speed phases of sprinting which would refute both your claim and Mr. Simmons’ claim that the quadriceps are not important to sprinting. It appears that utilizing exercises that a) are of a full ROM so as to activate all muscles and b) utilize the stretch-shortening cycle (also mentioned in the review below) will allow an athlete to become faster.

Muscles ALWAYS work in pairs,every muscle momentarily acting as antagonist must relax at the same intensity the muscle momentarily acting as agonist contracts.
We,not the exercise we are doing,choose which set of muscles to actively contract during movement. Upon this choice depends all following adaptation to the stimulus.

I disagree with these statements. Firstly, the antagonist doesn’t relax, it actually contracts, just not as strongly as the agonist. Prior to movement, if there is no flexion, both muscles would be relaxed. Upon flexion, the agonist contracts strongly while the anatgonist contracts only enough to allow for a controlled movement.

As to the second part suggesting we ‘actively contract’ the muscles we want to use, this is not true. We actively decide upon a movement pattern and the brain/CNS decides which muscles to contract, and how hard/long to contract. Many novice lifters don’t even know which muscles they are working with a particular exercise. Most do not know that the lats provide a huge stabilizing force during bench press, but they do, whether or not you ‘choose’ to engage them or not.

Well, I have oly squatted for years and am now giving the box squat a go. In a few weeks I reckon I will be closer to a conclusion.

Even if box squatting doesn’t provide more potential power for sprinting, the other point about knee health may be significant ie. oly lifers are more likely to get duff knees as they get older, the box squatting power lifter less so.

There is no difference in shearing forces on the knee between a oly squat and a box squat. Here’s an abstract (full text wasn’t available):

Here’s a study comparing back and front squats…slightly higher compressive forces in the back squat and zero difference in shearing forces between the two:

Another great review here on the necessity of deep squats and the myth of half squats being better for the knees:

Study on knee stability during squats (just abstract; couldn’t get the full text):

And finally, the NSCA position statement on squat depth and injury (general and knees):

Fully agreed on both,if you really wish to be that picky.I am not sure we want to get into antagonist lengthening and co-contraction issues here,though,nor in intention,fore brain and hind brain stuff. The key to me here is shifting focus,nothing more.
To me the lats provide much more than what you define a huge “stabilizing force” in a bp movement by the way,and possibly the main stimulus of the exercise.

These studies may not hit the mark, the technique is different between a half squat and box squat. At the bottom of a half squat or full oly squat there is usually a strong elastic component, (the bounce). With the box squat this is eliminated due to the pause on the box. Maybe this is enough to prevent some of the potential damage which occurs over time in the oly squat and maybe there is some other difference.

Studies tell one thing, but the observations of squatters over decades tells something different. Louis Simmons states that guys who once oly squatted big, no longer squat in their older age due to degeneration, this is not so true with older guys power lifiting and the box squat.

no extra hamstring benefit to atg squatting. the hips move in a arc path when squatting, with the most hamstring and posterior hip muscle recruitment peaking when the thighs are parallel and the hips are at their furthest point from the body’s midline.

I never got anything from box squats and felt full olympic squats hit the posterior chain more. Compare the legs and glutes of olympic weightlifters to powerlifters, some powerlifters actually have poor leg development (relatively speaking) and just use their back to squat and deadlift.
A properly performed olympic squat (perfect back arch all the way to ATG) hits the glutes far more than box squats IMO.

Rich any update to this as I know your were trialling?


The only vid I remember seeing of Ben squatting heavy was a poorly executed high boxsquat.

Star I know over the years you have been involved in strength development and of course that application into sprinting, I think you were the main poster in the bear droppings thread about this!?

What is your opinion and use of the box squat for sprint performance

My thoughts on squatting for sprinting…

  • squats are probably the best lower body resistance exercise
  • box squats are an excellent squat version, especially for those that have problems with form or those that want to build max strength. They are safe, easy to learn, and seem to take stress off of the knees and low back.
  • If good form is used, including full range Oly squats (clean front squats) is good.
  • I think squats are best when coupled with weighted vest jumps, sled pulls, short steep hill sprints, and plyos
  • squats and all the other exercises listed above are great for improving short sprint performance, but, with the exception of bounding, seem to do little for Max V.