There is a lot of debate on whether or not box squats are beneficial to the athlete. I think it can be a great tool but I see where a lot of coaches run into trouble. I shot a short video to illustrate and address some of these Issues.
What I really like about the box squat is making it’s primary function a depth gauge. Now where most run into problems is that when approaching max effort or end of a heavy set your athlete will try and dive bomb the box and get some rebound out of it. Here is the trouble. You never really control the weight and run the risk of some type of spinal compression. Also, if you are training a power lifter for a meet there is no box for them to bounce off of and squish! Bomb the meet!
What we do to battle that is work with a box that is about 2″-3″ lower than the athlete needs to be to achieve the depth you are trying to hit. (Now that could be anything depending on what your goal is. ie Depth for power lifting, coming off the line in football, etc.) Then replace that last 2″-3″ with a soft foam. This allows the athlete to feel the box/foam, that they have reached depth, but no way are they able to get any kinda of rebound off the box. They have to stop on there own as if it were a free squat.
Another issue coaches run into is the athlete completely sitting on the box and rocking back. I know sometimes when you watch a larger athlete do box squats it appears that he is rocking back. Not always the case, you have to watch their shoulders. If their shoulders come back they are rocking backwards. If they stay in place it’s just their large hips sitting on the box. Be careful of this. Why is this so bad? Well whether it is a sports athlete you are training or a powerlifter they will never mimic that movement with a regular free squat (RAW or equipped) or while squatting into position off the line. Also, if they completely sit and relax on that box potential for injury is high.
Using the Box Squat as a depth gauge is a great tool if used properly.
*Side note. We make our boxes 12″ wide by 24″ long. This allows you to stand behind your lifter and spot them more easily while still supplying a large enough target for them to hit.
Please watch this video for a better understanding.