How to Box Squat

How to Box Squat

A box squat, or chair squat, is an exercise that works the quadriceps, adductors, calves, glutes and lower back. You can make this move as easy or as hard as you need. For instance, it can be a good exercise for both elderly people and body builders alike, depending on how you set it up. For the simplest box squat, all you need is yourself and a chair, but you can also add barbells, weighted vests, benches, and/or bands.

Part 1 of 4:
Adjusting the Box

Image titled Box Squat Step 1
1
Move the bench up or down. If you're at the gym, many benches have adjustable heights. That way, you can adjust the bench to where you need it to be. [1] X Research source Ideally, the box will be at an height where you've reached a parallel squat, or in other words, where your knees become parallel with your hips.[2] X Research source If you are a beginner, you can make it a little higher so you can adjust to this move over time.[3] X Research source
2
Pick a chair at home. You can also do this move at home. In fact, it's a move that's been encouraged for older adults. [4] X Trustworthy Source PubMed Central Journal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of Health Go to source Pick a chair that is stable (make sure it doesn't shake or move) [5] X Trustworthy Source PubMed Central Journal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of Health Go to source and helps you reach a parallel squat, where your knees are parallel with your hips. You can go a little higher as a beginner.
Image titled Box Squat Step 3
3
Use the counter for balance. If you're new to balance squats, you can pull a chair up to your counter. That way, you can use the counter to help you balance as you learn the move. [6] X Trustworthy Source PubMed Central Journal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of Health Go to source This extra help can be especially good if you are a bit older and trying to increase your level of activity.
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Part 2 of 4:
Deciding on Weight

1
Use your body weight. One option, especially when you're first starting out, is to just use your body weight. This option will still work your leg muscles just fine, and you are still doing a resistance exercise. [7] X Trustworthy Source PubMed Central Journal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of Health Go to source
Image titled Box Squat Step 5
2
Add a weighted vest. Another option for your home is to add a weighted vest. This vest will add weight to your exercise, increasing the resistance on your legs as you move up and down. However, it takes away the trouble of having to balance a barbell, so it's a good option if you have trouble balancing. [8] X Trustworthy Source PubMed Central Journal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of Health Go to source Start small. Ten pounds is a good place to begin. Also, make sure the vest isn't too tight. You want to be able to breathe well.[9] X Research source You can find these vests at sporting goods stores. Try to pick one that lets you adjust the weight so you can make it fit your needs.
Image titled Box Squat Step 6
3
Use a barbell. You can also use a barbell to add weight to your box squats. The upside is these are widely available at the gym, so you'll be able to find one pretty easily if you have a gym membership. [10] X Research source You can also employ bands to add resistance to your box squats. Bands are attached to band pegs or dumbbells near the floor, so the bands add resistance as you move up and down. Typically, they are secured to a barbell at the top. Your gym should also have bands if you prefer.[11] X Research source Just like the vest, it's important to start small. Ten pounds is a decent place to start.[12] X Research source
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Part 3 of 4:
Doing a Box Squat with Body Weight or a Weighted Vest

Image titled Box Squat Step 7
1
Put on your vest. If you're using a vest, you need to put it on now. Make sure your vest is set up for the weight you want before putting it on. Also, make sure you are still able to breathe easily once the vest is on. [13] X Research source
Image titled Box Squat Step 8
2
Stand directly in front of your chair or bench. You should leave a little space between you and the bench or chair, so you don't hit the back of the chair when you squat. However, make sure it is close enough that you sit on it as you go down. [14] X Research source
Image titled Box Squat Step 9
3
Set your feet at the right width. Your feet need to be at least shoulder-width apart for balance. [15] X Research source At that width, you'll work your quads more. If you want to work your hamstrings, glutes, and back more, set your feet a little further apart. [16] X Research source
4
Shift your rear end towards the back. Also, push your hips back as you go. While you're doing so, make sure you are bending at the knees. However, do not push your knees forward. Keep them positioned directly above your ankles or mid-foot. [17] X Research source Try to keep your abdomen, core, and back tight. You also want to push your chest up. [18] X Research source
5
Work against gravity. If you just let gravity pull you into the chair, you're missing out on part of the work you need to be doing. Don't just "plop" down on the chair or bench. [19] X Research source Instead, slowly lower yourself to the chair or bench.
6
Stop for a second on the chair. Once you've reached the chair, pause for a second. You don't want to totally relax. [20] X Research source However, you do want to stop your motion for a second. [21] X Research source This pause keeps you from bouncing back up. The "bounce" takes some of the work out of it. [22] X Research source
7
Get back up. Now you need to push yourself back upward. Breathe in deeply. Tighten your abdominal muscles. [23] X Research source As you push, put your weight on your heels, pushing until you are upright again. [24] X Research source Try to keep yourself tight through the whole exercise.
8
Do a few sets of 8, 15, or 20 reps. Decide how many repetitions of the full squat (squatting down and rising back up to a standing position) you would like to do per set. You can do between 8 and 20 squats per set, depending on what you feel comfortable with. After doing your chosen number of reps, rest for about a minute and then repeat. Do 2-3 sets, resting between each set. [25] X Research source
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Part 4 of 4:
Doing a Box Squat with a Barbell

Image titled Box Squat Step 15
1
Adjust a barbell onto a squat rack. A squat rack holds a barbell so you can easily move under it. Move the barbell so that it's just below shoulder level. [26] X Research source Your gym should have both barbells and a squat rack. If you don't know what to look for, ask a gym employee. You can buy this equipment for home, but a weighted vest would make more sense. Work up to using weights. Try the squat a few times first with no weights attached to the barbell. Once you have the technique down, you can begin adding weight plates to the barbell to increase resistance.
2
Make sure the bench is close behind you. Set a box or bench about a step behind the barbell. In other words, you don't want to step back and the box not be there underneath you. Make sure the box can easily support your weight along with the barbell. [27] X Research source
Image titled Box Squat Step 17
3
Set your feet apart. Setting your feet apart gives you better balance. It also helps you work your hips, back, hamstrings, and glutes, evening out how your muscles are worked. [28] X Research source However, if you prefer to work on your quads, pull your feet closer together, though still apart.[29] X Research source Your feet should be at least shoulder-width apart, even if you're trying to work your quads more.[30] X Research source
4
Move underneath the barbell. Begin the exercise standing. Step under the bar to situate it across the back of your shoulders. [31] X Research source
5
Pick up the bar. Grab the bar with both hands, a bit out from each shoulder. Scrunch your shoulders together. As you do, move your elbows forward. It's almost as if you are trying to wrap the bar around your shoulders like a cape. [32] X Research source Take a deep breath, so that your abdomen is tight.[33] X Research source Take the bar off the rack, keeping your lower back tightly arched.[34] X Research source
6
Move back towards the box. With a straight back and your knees slightly bent, step backwards. The barbell should rest on your shoulders, while being steadied and supported by your hands. [35] X Research source Ensure your feet are still at the correct distance. Move them to at least shoulder-width apart if they are any closer together.
7
Push your butt backwards. Also, push backward on your hips. At the same time, make sure your feet are steady on the floor and you're pushing your knees outward. [36] X Research source Ensure your chest is high.[37] X Research source Also, keep your back and abdomen tight as you sit.[38] X Research source
8
Sit softly. In other words, you don't want to "plop" down on the box. Part of the exercise is working against gravity as you slowly lower yourself on to the box. If you just plop down, you're missing half the exercise. [39] X Research source One trainer says to make sure you don't "jiggle" when you sit.[40] X Research source In other words, you shouldn't feel your muscles rebounding off the box as you sit.
9
Pause on the box. A pause doesn't mean you sit. A pause is just that, a single moment. Don't let yourself relax, [41] X Research source except for your hip flexors. [42] X Research source Basically, you're wanting to stop the momentum. If you "bounce" off the box, that gives you upward momentum, making the the exercise easier than it should be.[43] X Research source
10
Push upward. Once you've paused, it's time to push yourself upward again. As you move upward, make sure your weight is on your heels. Keep going until you are standing up again. [44] X Research source It's important to keep yourself tight throughout the movement. For instance, before moving back up, try sucking in a deep breath and then tightening your abdominal muscles.[45] X Research source
Image titled Box Squat Step 25
11
Continue or stop. You can continue doing squats, or you can put the barbell up now. If you want to put the barbell up, move forward and lift the bar onto the rack, then let go. If you want to do more, start with two reps at a time.[46] X Research source Rest a minute or so before doing another set of reps.[47] X Research source
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Part 1 of 4:
Adjusting the Box

Image titled Box Squat Step 1
1
Move the bench up or down. If you're at the gym, many benches have adjustable heights. That way, you can adjust the bench to where you need it to be. [1] X Research source Ideally, the box will be at an height where you've reached a parallel squat, or in other words, where your knees become parallel with your hips.[2] X Research source If you are a beginner, you can make it a little higher so you can adjust to this move over time.[3] X Research source
2
Pick a chair at home. You can also do this move at home. In fact, it's a move that's been encouraged for older adults. [4] X Trustworthy Source PubMed Central Journal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of Health Go to source Pick a chair that is stable (make sure it doesn't shake or move) [5] X Trustworthy Source PubMed Central Journal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of Health Go to source and helps you reach a parallel squat, where your knees are parallel with your hips. You can go a little higher as a beginner.
Image titled Box Squat Step 3
3
Use the counter for balance. If you're new to balance squats, you can pull a chair up to your counter. That way, you can use the counter to help you balance as you learn the move. [6] X Trustworthy Source PubMed Central Journal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of Health Go to source This extra help can be especially good if you are a bit older and trying to increase your level of activity.
Advertisement

Part 2 of 4:
Deciding on Weight

1
Use your body weight. One option, especially when you're first starting out, is to just use your body weight. This option will still work your leg muscles just fine, and you are still doing a resistance exercise. [7] X Trustworthy Source PubMed Central Journal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of Health Go to source
Image titled Box Squat Step 5
2
Add a weighted vest. Another option for your home is to add a weighted vest. This vest will add weight to your exercise, increasing the resistance on your legs as you move up and down. However, it takes away the trouble of having to balance a barbell, so it's a good option if you have trouble balancing. [8] X Trustworthy Source PubMed Central Journal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of Health Go to source Start small. Ten pounds is a good place to begin. Also, make sure the vest isn't too tight. You want to be able to breathe well.[9] X Research source You can find these vests at sporting goods stores. Try to pick one that lets you adjust the weight so you can make it fit your needs.
Image titled Box Squat Step 6
3
Use a barbell. You can also use a barbell to add weight to your box squats. The upside is these are widely available at the gym, so you'll be able to find one pretty easily if you have a gym membership. [10] X Research source You can also employ bands to add resistance to your box squats. Bands are attached to band pegs or dumbbells near the floor, so the bands add resistance as you move up and down. Typically, they are secured to a barbell at the top. Your gym should also have bands if you prefer.[11] X Research source Just like the vest, it's important to start small. Ten pounds is a decent place to start.[12] X Research source
Advertisement

Part 3 of 4:
Doing a Box Squat with Body Weight or a Weighted Vest

Image titled Box Squat Step 7
1
Put on your vest. If you're using a vest, you need to put it on now. Make sure your vest is set up for the weight you want before putting it on. Also, make sure you are still able to breathe easily once the vest is on. [13] X Research source
Image titled Box Squat Step 8
2
Stand directly in front of your chair or bench. You should leave a little space between you and the bench or chair, so you don't hit the back of the chair when you squat. However, make sure it is close enough that you sit on it as you go down. [14] X Research source
Image titled Box Squat Step 9
3
Set your feet at the right width. Your feet need to be at least shoulder-width apart for balance. [15] X Research source At that width, you'll work your quads more. If you want to work your hamstrings, glutes, and back more, set your feet a little further apart. [16] X Research source
4
Shift your rear end towards the back. Also, push your hips back as you go. While you're doing so, make sure you are bending at the knees. However, do not push your knees forward. Keep them positioned directly above your ankles or mid-foot. [17] X Research source Try to keep your abdomen, core, and back tight. You also want to push your chest up. [18] X Research source
5
Work against gravity. If you just let gravity pull you into the chair, you're missing out on part of the work you need to be doing. Don't just "plop" down on the chair or bench. [19] X Research source Instead, slowly lower yourself to the chair or bench.
6
Stop for a second on the chair. Once you've reached the chair, pause for a second. You don't want to totally relax. [20] X Research source However, you do want to stop your motion for a second. [21] X Research source This pause keeps you from bouncing back up. The "bounce" takes some of the work out of it. [22] X Research source
7
Get back up. Now you need to push yourself back upward. Breathe in deeply. Tighten your abdominal muscles. [23] X Research source As you push, put your weight on your heels, pushing until you are upright again. [24] X Research source Try to keep yourself tight through the whole exercise.
8
Do a few sets of 8, 15, or 20 reps. Decide how many repetitions of the full squat (squatting down and rising back up to a standing position) you would like to do per set. You can do between 8 and 20 squats per set, depending on what you feel comfortable with. After doing your chosen number of reps, rest for about a minute and then repeat. Do 2-3 sets, resting between each set. [25] X Research source
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Part 4 of 4:
Doing a Box Squat with a Barbell

Image titled Box Squat Step 15
1
Adjust a barbell onto a squat rack. A squat rack holds a barbell so you can easily move under it. Move the barbell so that it's just below shoulder level. [26] X Research source Your gym should have both barbells and a squat rack. If you don't know what to look for, ask a gym employee. You can buy this equipment for home, but a weighted vest would make more sense. Work up to using weights. Try the squat a few times first with no weights attached to the barbell. Once you have the technique down, you can begin adding weight plates to the barbell to increase resistance.
2
Make sure the bench is close behind you. Set a box or bench about a step behind the barbell. In other words, you don't want to step back and the box not be there underneath you. Make sure the box can easily support your weight along with the barbell. [27] X Research source
Image titled Box Squat Step 17
3
Set your feet apart. Setting your feet apart gives you better balance. It also helps you work your hips, back, hamstrings, and glutes, evening out how your muscles are worked. [28] X Research source However, if you prefer to work on your quads, pull your feet closer together, though still apart.[29] X Research source Your feet should be at least shoulder-width apart, even if you're trying to work your quads more.[30] X Research source
4
Move underneath the barbell. Begin the exercise standing. Step under the bar to situate it across the back of your shoulders. [31] X Research source
5
Pick up the bar. Grab the bar with both hands, a bit out from each shoulder. Scrunch your shoulders together. As you do, move your elbows forward. It's almost as if you are trying to wrap the bar around your shoulders like a cape. [32] X Research source Take a deep breath, so that your abdomen is tight.[33] X Research source Take the bar off the rack, keeping your lower back tightly arched.[34] X Research source
6
Move back towards the box. With a straight back and your knees slightly bent, step backwards. The barbell should rest on your shoulders, while being steadied and supported by your hands. [35] X Research source Ensure your feet are still at the correct distance. Move them to at least shoulder-width apart if they are any closer together.
7
Push your butt backwards. Also, push backward on your hips. At the same time, make sure your feet are steady on the floor and you're pushing your knees outward. [36] X Research source Ensure your chest is high.[37] X Research source Also, keep your back and abdomen tight as you sit.[38] X Research source
8
Sit softly. In other words, you don't want to "plop" down on the box. Part of the exercise is working against gravity as you slowly lower yourself on to the box. If you just plop down, you're missing half the exercise. [39] X Research source One trainer says to make sure you don't "jiggle" when you sit.[40] X Research source In other words, you shouldn't feel your muscles rebounding off the box as you sit.
9
Pause on the box. A pause doesn't mean you sit. A pause is just that, a single moment. Don't let yourself relax, [41] X Research source except for your hip flexors. [42] X Research source Basically, you're wanting to stop the momentum. If you "bounce" off the box, that gives you upward momentum, making the the exercise easier than it should be.[43] X Research source
10
Push upward. Once you've paused, it's time to push yourself upward again. As you move upward, make sure your weight is on your heels. Keep going until you are standing up again. [44] X Research source It's important to keep yourself tight throughout the movement. For instance, before moving back up, try sucking in a deep breath and then tightening your abdominal muscles.[45] X Research source
Image titled Box Squat Step 25
11
Continue or stop. You can continue doing squats, or you can put the barbell up now. If you want to put the barbell up, move forward and lift the bar onto the rack, then let go. If you want to do more, start with two reps at a time.[46] X Research source Rest a minute or so before doing another set of reps.[47] X Research source
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