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Setting Up Box Squats by Jesse Ward - CrossFit Journal

Setting Up Box Squats

By Jesse Ward

In Powerlifting, Videos

May 02, 2010

Video Article

Jesse Ward of Lynnwood CrossFit is a former powerlifter who was at the first CrossFit cert at Westside Barbell. Ward has been playing with bands, squats and monolifts longer than many CrossFitters and offers up a few tips for anyone looking to try the techniques perfected by Louie Simmons.

With an athlete under the bar, Ward explains the finer points of bar placement, stance, depth, shin angles and the various ways to set up the bands whether you happen to have a monolift or a regular power cage.

6min 25sec

Additional reading: Unleash Your Power by Mike Warkentin, published Jan. 20, 2010.

Free Download


27 Comments on “Setting Up Box Squats”


wrote …

Wait, what was this about?


wrote …

Good basic vid. Covered all the points of box squatting. I'm glad this is making its way into CF. So many merits to the basic methodologies of PL'ing.


replied to comment from Kyle McQuoid

lol. I'm not sure. I need to watch it again.

j/k. Great video.


wrote …

Great video. The specific coaching points were really demonstrated extremely well. Thanks!


wrote …

Good video. The only thing I have an issue with is the shin angle. It is not supposed to be straight up and down like the video says. Louie has his guys sit back farther so that the shins are PAST vertical. This stretches the glutes, hips, and hamstrings so that we can take full advantage of the stretch reflex and more fully work on those areas. It really is great to see an interest in powerlifting movements though. Almost everyone can benefit from becoming more explosive through these methods.


wrote …

Good but there are faults, each height level on the box squat activates diffrent muscle groups and weaknesses. Mr. Simmons actually encourages below parallel box squats. My, uneduacated, understanding is whats shown in the video to be a good beginner start to box squating.(This would primarily work the quads) Just think I should correct the claim that below parallel with a wide stance is not beneficial.(Just not right away)


replied to comment from Kevin Simons

The vertical shin angle is the starting point. Louie has his guys sit way back like that because of the style of squatting that they do which is a wide stance glute oriented PL'ing squat. Big difference between an OLY squat. His guys can do that pretty easily because they train to be so glute/ham dominant. For the beginnner starting, strive for vertical keeping in mind that beyond vertical is more ideal.


replied to comment from Chad Lemus

The setup in this video is designed for speed days. Usually the dynamic work is at parallel. There are variations but they are for heavier days. Also, no setup on the box squat is to primarily work the quads. The emphasis is always on the glute/ham complex.


wrote …

" If your hips are weak, use a below parallel box with a wide stance. If you need low back power, use a close stance, below parallel. If your quads are weak, work on a parallel box. If you have a sticking point about 2 inches above parallel, as is common, then work on a box that is 2 inches above parallel. Our advanced squatters use all below parallel boxes. This builds so much power out of the hole that there will be no sticking points. "- Louie Simmons

- Basic biomechanics, many different muscles groups can be the primary targets, especially the quads in a parellel or above parellel squat. Beauty of the box squat. Of course the body works as a whole so everything will have some to another


Bryan de la Puente wrote …

There was a really hot blond and something about


wrote …

He said it himself in the video. She makes it look cool.

Good pointers though. Real talk.


wrote …

I love these kind of tutorials. Including hot girls on exercise tutorials. Nothing wrong with learning something while having an eye candy. Plase keep them coming!!


wrote …

Although Ive seen a few videos now on box squatting i am still unclear on a few points. What exactly is the reason for incorperating box squats?Is it to get someone through thier sticking points? Secondly, how often should it be used and third what sort of loads in relation to my 1 rep max should I be using. Im willing to use anything at my disposal to increase my squat Im just unclear as to how this fits into my training. Also, why arent there more girls like that squatting at my gym?


wrote …

Lol at all of the hot girl comments. Come to think of it, Jesse, perhaps you need to fly me down for some additional box squat training for the young lady :p.

Ok, ok, just kidding :). Nice setup and video Jesse!


wrote …

I'm with doug on this, variation is cool but I am curious of the "so what" factor. What does box squatting provide that other squatting methods do not?


Frank DiMeo wrote …

Louie Simmons' book, "The Westside Barbell Book of Methods", and his DVDs will provide a wealth of information.
When we do box squats we work usually at 18" down to about 10", depending on the workout.


wrote …

speakin as the chick in the video for what its worth i can tell you that adding in box squats on speed days and even on a lot of my max effort days put over 45 pounds on my squat in about 2 weeks..... granted that sounds like a small number by when you are like 2 foot nothing and half its a big deal and it has only gone up since then... other than that as far as why lord knows Im no louie and you should always be careful listening to a 2 foot nothing and half person... but as far as why I see the benefits to learning the box squat to include but not be limited too learning how to find YOUR ASS when squatting which we can all agree is helpful, learning how to use your hamstrings effectively to pull you out of your squat instead of bothering other less useful body parts for the job, ya it essentially changes the sticking point letting you get your hip strength to increase (which was big for me since I was born with both of my hips out of place.... effin weeeeakk) , and as far as when Speed days box squats are kinda the thing... max effort days are fantastic with a box and I honestly did maybe one Max effort a month with out the that is just my two cents probably not helpful given i can barely see over jesse's belly button in this video but hey a girl had to try=)


wrote …

Abi: Did you get your ass from box squatting or was it always that phenomenal? (serious question)


wrote …

Height comments aside, I think Abi hit the nail on the head as to their value not to mention the fact they are MUCH easier on the knees than traditional squats and anyone with any knee pain will greatly appreciate that.


wrote …

thanks abi, exactly what i was hoping to hear about.


replied to comment from Chris Mason

Can you explain that a little more?

My understanding is that "traditional" squats are not bad for the knees. They are, in fact, good for the knees. Are you saying squats can cause knee pain? Or someone with previous knee pain, will find box squats more comfortable than regular squats? If so, why?


replied to comment from Matt Solomon

Less patellar tension and shear at the knee with the shins vertical and the bulk of the load distributed across the posterior chain. Basically as the knees drift forward over the foot/toes there is more shear and tension directly on the patella.


replied to comment from Nate Alexander

Ummm are you sure?

Unless my knee explodes at the bottom, there is no shear. At the bottom of a squat the hamstrings resist equally the force from the quads (through the patella tendon). Once the hamstring is engaged, the tibia shouldn't track forward anymore. More "tension" only makes the knee stronger. Doesn't Louie advocate using the Box Squat as a training tool - more reps than can be handled with a normal squat (he says it one of his articles...easier to recover). In competition, it's a regular squat with MORE weight. Surely, they can't be that bad.

It sounds like you are arguing that a box squat is better than a BAD squat. It doesn't make sense. Glassman and Rippetoe think the squat is the greatest move out there.


replied to comment from Matt Solomon

straight from Louie Simmons:

"I suffered a complete rupture of the patella tendon in 1991. At that time my best squat was 821 at 242. Rehabbing myself, I gained full range of motion and came back to squat 900 in two meets at 52 years old. I have never used knee wraps in training. I have used bands and bar weight combined at the top to equal over a grand with the weight on the box around 800 with no knee problems at all. How? I sit back for enough on the box where there is no pressure on my patella tendons.

If you've done these correctly you can attest to the lack of pressure vs the amount of pressure on a more knee forward squat.

"Once the hamstring is engaged, the tibia shouldn't track forward anymore.

As for the hamstrings being engaged and there being no "shear" thats not true. This is especially the case if an athlete tries to keep the trunk extremely vertical (as in an OH Squat) this begins to push the knees forward (because the athlete has good ankle flexibility and can keep the heels planted) but it increases shear at the knee. (

And yes a box squat is exponentially better than a BAD squat...Of course the squat is the most functional movement out there but there are TONS of variation of squats you can do. Each of which have variations in foot position, trunk angle, knee movement etc all of which have a trade off in either hip load or knee load. K Starr says this in one of his vids on here where he actually teaches the box squat.


replied to comment from Matt Solomon

Remember Matt there are as many answers as there are coaches, Nate is correct... But you should decide which one is better for you or your clients. Each will benefit diffrent situations and body types differently. Don't just take Simmons advice or K starr or any other persons. Take them all and really listen to what they say.
The Olympic style squat is great if your body is in the right state, otherwise it turns into a give and take relationship like KStarr says. But if those shins can stay perpindicular after years of body re-allignment, and training then by all means go for it if thats what you find best for your meet, training, sport, life etc.


wrote …

I am curious if anyone has had to deal with severe pain in the hips from wide stance box squatting?


EC S wrote …

clear, concise vid. love it. thanks, jesse.

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