Charles Poliquin on Box Squats

From T-Nation

Box Squats for Athletes and Bodybuilders?

Q: What do you think of having athletes do box squats? What about bodybuilders?

A: I never use them. With athletes, you want the most bang for your buck, the highest return, because you only have eleven weeks on average to train them during their off-season. So the choice of exercises becomes really important.

The problem I have with box squats is that their application is limited to powerlifting. The reason being is the goal of powerlifting is to lift the highest amount of weight for the shortest amount of distance within the rules. Essentially in the box squat, your shins don’t travel forward. Now I don’t know of any sport where the shins don’t travel forward for propulsion. So the mechanics of the box squat aren’t found in sport.

Do you think all the Westside people are up in arms yet and have me on their hit list? But it’s the Bruce Lee principle again: use what is useful and reject what is not. Box squats are the only thing in the Westside system I don’t agree with. They only have applications for powerlifting.

Also, any sort of restricted movement pattern tends to change soft tissue integrity. One thing you’ll find with people who do a lot of box squats is that they’re abnormally tight in the piriformis muscle, for example. In sports where you have to change direction a lot, the box squat will actually decrease your power because you won’t be able to use those muscles efficiently.

Finally, most of the athletes I have are highly paid. There’s a risk when doing box squats of the athlete bouncing on the box due to lack of concentration. The trauma that can result on the sacral vertebraes could be tremendous. There are just better alternatives. If you’re a powerlifter, they’re great. If you’re any other type of athlete, stay away from the box squat.

Now, as far as bodybuilding is concerned, you can inject box squats sparingly into the training process. They will hypertrophy the thighs and glutes. But bodybuilding isn’t an athletic endeavor. Most bodybuilders can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. They’re not known for coordination!

That’s the only issue his disagrees with from Westside? I wonder if he has his “highly paid” clients doing max effort good mornings with a safety squat bar :rolleyes:

On the topic of box squats, what is the purpose of using it? I mean I understand that they use it to break the concentric/eccentric chain, but why? Wouldn’t more fully utilizing the stretch reflex be beneficial? I know that there is still some built up kinetic tension as long as they do not relax but surely some of it dissipates as they pause on the box right?

I use it for a couple reasons. The main one being that if you box squat you won’t have as much soreness/fatigue/etc the next day…can be used near meets esp. for people who are not proficient in olympic lifts. Someone once posted (paraphrase here) “I can squat 5x3x400 and feel like I got hit by a truck the next day but if I box squat I feel like I barely did anything”.

Plus you can use box squat to get rock solid readings on your tendo unit.

The biggest purpose for me in using box squats is just to get correct depth every time. The half/parallel squat is the one “big lift” where completion of the lift is subjective, so naturally the box enforces correct depth.

I don’t do wide stance, sit back, or all of that stuff necessarily. Sometimes I even stay tight on the box.

I think for you to have a good squat u should be sitting back anyways.

box squat is more of a hip/ham exercise

Its more a powerlifter exercise …

Charles Polaquin knows that athletes who get hypertrophy often believe they are improving. (this is part of a quote by Christian Thebadue/ spelling?) from years back.
Most of the athletes Polaquin has trained have as much desire for hypertrophy as performance increase. (read that as “desire for”, not nessesarily NEED.) Ice hockey players, line-men etc…
How many track guys has Charles worked with? I think he has done some work with an Olympic female long jumper.

Dwight Phillips, Adam Nelson to name a few. He’s done enough to be respected for his opinion. Is he the end-all be-all, no. I plan on completing his PICP certification program but it is expensive and I have other priorities (I have completed the THEORY course, if you can call it a course). Just my thoughts.

I agree - but I take everything he says with a pinch of salt.


The same reason why if I wanted to really give a comprehensive analysis of Westside, I would perform it’s programming to completion. The cost is up there, but I can’t say that Poliquin’s coaching hasn’t seriously influenced my decision making in strength programming (for better or worse). Priority wise, I do plan on trying to spend some time with Coach Boyle (for training as a whole) and with Coach Tim Swords (from Team Houston Weightlifting Club). We’ll see how completing the seminars for Level I goes before I decide for sure.

Just to clarify, Phillips has gotten worse since being with Poliquin.

Oversimplification. I really don’t care to get into this because these discussions never go anywhere. But whenever an athlete gets worse, blaming the coach (sport or otherwise) we don’t agree with is always convenient. I feel that way about Jeff Madden at UT. I just don’t think it’s worth going into. And I just hate comments that say so much but say so little. Very easy to read too much into.

I thought it was suspect that all of the higher level coaches in his program have a long history with him. But I don’t know enough about it to comment accurately, so my opinion ends here. I’m not a CP lover, I just believe in giving credit where credit is due. Most of the coaches we all love have learned something from Poliquin, King, etc.; why can’t we?

I am just saying–look at pics of Phillips. He added weight (mostly muscle) and is performing poorly. I don’t know much about Poliquin’s speed work–he seems to be huge on lifting, that is about all I know about his speed training. I would be interested to hear what you know about what he does for speed, etc. because he hasn’t released a ton of info on it.

I agree - it’s up to everyone to make they’re own mind up I guess.

Actually, I’m not sure they are working together anymore anyway?

Sorry Davan, I did the same with my post as I commented on yours. I don’t disagree with you, I don’t have enough information. I just think his performance went up initially, and that maybe his training took a david boston turn. I would be interested to see his jump performance over time since training with Poliquin. But I have to state an opinion (as do you), so it comes off as more of a disagreement. This is one of the reasons I hate forums (and e-mail for that matter). My writing seems to do that to people often.

By the way, the only training program I ever saw for david boston (from poliquin’s site or from his materials) was an arms routine. Very telling.

That’s why they are at that level.

Believe me I know.

I think the information he gives though needs to be challenged as some of it is NOT correct.

I hope to do some of that challenging, but I need to work on my skills first. I don’t want to just be a hater (slang).