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  1. #1
    Registered User Fogol's Avatar
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    Box Squats VS Free Squats, this is giving me a headache

    Im on defrancos WS4SB III and the ME lower body day calls for a choice between either box squats or free squats (among others but im choosing between these)

    I couldnt decide which to do so i decided to search...bad idea, im so confused as to which is better. There is so much contrasting info/opinions i dont know which side of the argument to stand by. I figure the best way to solve this is make a thread and ask which is best for me before i have a brain anneurism.

    Basically...
    I play football and lacrosse
    football= corner back
    lacrosse= Middi in field and offence in box
    My goals for starting this program is to gain weight, get bigger, get stronger, get faster.


    Which type of squats should i be looking at?

    *SIDE NOTE* Previous to defrancos i ahve pretty much always done front squats, to add a twist to this would front box squats be another option i should look at?
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  2. #2
    Registered User desteph's Avatar
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    Use all three box, free and front squats in 2-3 week cycles.
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  3. #3
    I Train to Bring You Pain kfisherx's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by desteph View Post
    Use all three box, free and front squats in 2-3 week cycles.
    ^^^ This.. Provided you are otherwise healthy and able to squat there is none better for you than another. They all provide a little different thing. For me, I do front squats and really focus on ATG deep squats with core stabization and explosion out of them. These really make my hips work. Free squats are more for just below parallel squatting with more weight added. These will hit my quads more and hips a bit less. BOX squats I can really load up the bar because I feel safer and come out of the hole better after touching my butt to the bench. These are even more quad intense with higher weight and a bit less ROM.
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  4. #4
    Hai guiz! TheHitStick's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by kfisherx View Post
    ^^^ This.. Provided you are otherwise healthy and able to squat there is none better for you than another. They all provide a little different thing. For me, I do front squats and really focus on ATG deep squats with core stabization and explosion out of them. These really make my hips work. Free squats are more for just below parallel squatting with more weight added. These will hit my quads more and hips a bit less. BOX squats I can really load up the bar because I feel safer and come out of the hole better after touching my butt to the bench. These are even more quad intense with higher weight and a bit less ROM.
    i do Box Squats a few inches below parallel though and I feel it's working my hips and everything.

    Actually, I'm more or less doing free squats with a box set up few inches below parallel so I know I'm hitting that distance every time. If I don't touch the box, I don't count the rep.

    But i would mix it up.
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  5. #5
    Registered User ulfhednar's Avatar
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    I never felt comfortable doing box squats, neither parralel squats heh since you have to make sure you go below the parralel slightly every time, full squats is the best solution, heh,
    1. you wont ever need a spotter since you go all the way down, and if you cant get up with the weight you just drop it on the safety bars
    2. you never have to worry about depth
    3. IMO, feels like it makes my legs much bigger and stronger and it doesnt bother my knees in any way.
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  6. #6
    Registered User jgood's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by kfisherx View Post
    BOX squats I can really load up the bar because I feel safer and come out of the hole better after touching my butt to the bench. These are even more quad intense with higher weight and a bit less ROM.
    What? You should not be box squatting more than you are free squatting ... its physically impossible if you are using the correct weights. Box squats save the spine because you are unable to load as much weight .... but there is usually a pretty good carryover to free squatting. They also involve the hamstrings more.

    Like the first guy said ... switch them around ... I would put deadlifts in the rotation too though.
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  7. #7
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    Originally Posted by kfisherx View Post
    ^^^ This.. Provided you are otherwise healthy and able to squat there is none better for you than another. They all provide a little different thing. For me, I do front squats and really focus on ATG deep squats with core stabization and explosion out of them. These really make my hips work. Free squats are more for just below parallel squatting with more weight added. These will hit my quads more and hips a bit less. BOX squats I can really load up the bar because I feel safer and come out of the hole better after touching my butt to the bench. These are even more quad intense with higher weight and a bit less ROM.
    You are not doing box squats right then. If your quads are being worked super hard you may be leaning forward.

    Box squats are great for strengthening your hamstrings. You should sit back and down, when you reach the box your shins should be past perpendicular to the floor. Once you start the ascent your heels should dig into the floor and explode off the box using your hips and glutes and hamstrings.
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  8. #8
    Registered User federaldb59's Avatar
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    I just read an article on elitefts about front box squats being good for football players. cycle them like someone else said.
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  9. #9
    I Train to Bring You Pain kfisherx's Avatar
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    Hmmmm... interesting RE box squats. I do not fully rest on the box. I just touch lightly my butt and come up. I would never think to fully rest on the box as it would be quite hard on the spine to do that and I would probably then never do them. I only use the box because it mentally makes me feel safer so I can load heavier.

    So guess I don't do them then. Can someone explain why these are done if the purpose is to actually sit down on the box? What benefit do they have outside of free squats since I assume you could not load them due to spine injury.
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  10. #10
    married to squats toad1's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by TheHitStick View Post
    i do Box Squats a few inches below parallel though and I feel it's working my hips and everything.

    Actually, I'm more or less doing free squats with a box set up few inches below parallel so I know I'm hitting that distance every time. If I don't touch the box, I don't count the rep.

    But i would mix it up.
    i pretty much do the same thing, when i did back squats i used a box for depth and it also helped to build up my hamstrings.

    currently i'm doing front squats because i can get a better range of movement with them and a slightly better core workout from front squats ive never thought about doing them with a box tho.

    i perfer back squats with a box to normal squats, i think it depends on what you want to get out of your squats. i feel you get more strength, power and a better hamgstring workout from box squats but more core and a better quad workout from normal.
    people ask me how to train, and i answer "i look at what you do and then i do the exact oposite"


    if your family was captured and you were told you needed to put 100 pounds onto your max squat within two months or your family would be executed, would you squat once per week? Something tells me that you'd start squatting every day
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  11. #11
    Registered User FB4ME's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by kfisherx View Post
    Hmmmm... interesting RE box squats. I do not fully rest on the box. I just touch lightly my butt and come up. I would never think to fully rest on the box as it would be quite hard on the spine to do that and I would probably then never do them. I only use the box because it mentally makes me feel safer so I can load heavier.

    So guess I don't do them then. Can someone explain why these are done if the purpose is to actually sit down on the box? What benefit do they have outside of free squats since I assume you could not load them due to spine injury.

    I don't see how they would put anymore stress on your spine, especially since you will be using lower weights than you can do with normal squats (assuming you are doing them correctly). The purpose of actually sitting on the box and sitting back an inch or two is to basically release the tension, so that the lift becomes a completely concentric contraction. You essentially take out the eccentric portion of the normal squat and your muscles are required to "fire" faster to get the weight started.

    Also, when performed correctly you use your hams and glutes much more than your quads because of your knee position in relation to your feet (which is impossible to attain in a free squat... without falling backwards) I'm not sure how well I explained it, but hey, I tried.

    For what its worth, I would say ATG(even though I cant do them) and Box Squats are probably the best for athletic performance. Regular Parallel free squats are always gonna be "the king". OP, front squats are good but if thats all you do, then you will be greatly hindering your strength gains and widening your muscle imbalance as front squats are very quad dominant. IMO, front squats should always be treated as an auxilary lift to deads/cleans/or a squat variation... but thats just my opinion.
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  12. #12
    I Train to Bring You Pain kfisherx's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by FB4ME View Post
    I don't see how they would put anymore stress on your spine, especially since you will be using lower weights than you can do with normal squats (assuming you are doing them correctly). The purpose of actually sitting on the box and sitting back an inch or two is to basically release the tension, so that the lift becomes a completely concentric contraction. You essentially take out the eccentric portion of the normal squat and your muscles are required to "fire" faster to get the weight started.

    Also, when performed correctly you use your hams and glutes much more than your quads because of your knee position in relation to your feet (which is impossible to attain in a free squat... without falling backwards) I'm not sure how well I explained it, but hey, I tried.

    For what its worth, I would say ATG(even though I cant do them) and Box Squats are probably the best for athletic performance. Regular Parallel free squats are always gonna be "the king". OP, front squats are good but if thats all you do, then you will be greatly hindering your strength gains and widening your muscle imbalance as front squats are very quad dominant. IMO, front squats should always be treated as an auxilary lift to deads/cleans/or a squat variation... but thats just my opinion.
    Thanks for the explanation but I do not understand why you would presume lower weights with box squats. Since I do squat mostly ATG or pretty deep in the free squat, a box squat is typically higher than my normal squat so I can load those puppies up with more weight than less weight. They are actually easier for me. Is it the case that most people squat deeper with box as opposed to lower? I also do not sit and rest in a box squat but rather use the box to explode away from as soon as I touch. So perhaps I am not doing "box squats" correctly.

    Funny that you think front squats are more quad dominate. I find them to be more core and hip dominate....
    Last edited by kfisherx; 02-18-2010 at 10:43 AM.
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  13. #13
    Registered User FB4ME's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by kfisherx View Post
    Thanks for the explanation but I do not understand why you would presume lower weights with box squats. Since I do squat mostly ATG or pretty deep in the free squat, a box squat is typically higher than my normal squat so I can load those puppies up with more weight than less weight. They are actually easier for me. Is it the case that most people squat deeper with box as opposed to lower?

    Funny that you think front squats are more quad dominate. I find them to be more core and hip dominate....

    Ah... forgot you said you did ATG, in that case yeah I could see how they would be heavier than your normal squats then. The difference between the amount of weight you can do on the box vs. free squat should be less, but its nothing drastic. For instance on a normal ME day I will free squat around 315 for reps of 3-6. The last ME day I did box squats with 295 for a ME set of 5. So its weaker but not much. Ofcourse it all depends on what height of box you are squatting out of. The one I use is about 1-2 inches below my knee so it is almost exactly the same (little higher) than my free squat depth. Some people like to go lower and some higher. But yeah, people who "touch and go" on a box are not really box squatting. That kind of box squatting really serves no other purpose than to serve as a reference point for when to explode up.

    As far as the Front squats, they always tear up my quads and glutes, but leave my hamstrings untouched... so yeah, I may be all screwed up lol
    Last edited by FB4ME; 02-18-2010 at 10:56 AM.
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    I Train to Bring You Pain kfisherx's Avatar
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    HA HA

    Thanks for the back and forth... I did some googling RE box squats and see that there are numerous variations one can do. The touch and explode is a variation that serves a purpose but not the same as when you actually sit and rest before lifting. I never do that one but will try it now. Of course EVERYTHING about squatting has to do with ROM. If you are box squatting lower than you are free squatting then of course it serves a different purpose than it would for me.

    For me having a box back there helps me tremendously to handle the mental stress of having nearly 2x my body weight on my back and sitting back. I will admit that aspect of this sport can be scary and having the box back there seems to help in that way as well for me. So for my purposes, box squatting is great for helping me to increase weights. Now I will have to try the sit and rest version with a bit less weight and see what that does for me.
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    That's how you get ants. BobisMighty's Avatar
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    i do free squats for ME and box squats for DE. I rest on the box for a half second and explode up. the point of the box is to stop the stretch reflex so that you're bringing the weight up for a dead stop.
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    I dont think Ive noticed anyone mention cycling box heights.
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    Originally Posted by FB4ME View Post
    IMO, front squats should always be treated as an auxilary lift to deads/cleans/or a squat variation... but thats just my opinion.
    Interestingly enough I remember one study which showed that accross different sports performance in the front squat (as cmpared to other weight training exercises) is most closely correllated to performance on the field.

    I love front squats, I tend to start my athletes on front squats because it teaches them to squat properly and then they move on to a more backsquat dominant program as they go.

    I don't use box squats or only very rarely. Box squats focus more on the hamstrings and the posterior chain and I like to use deadlifts instead.
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    Registered User jgood's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by federaldb59 View Post
    I dont think Ive noticed anyone mention cycling box heights.
    Its suppose to be a given .... but it seems like alot of people on here do the exact same height day in and day out.

    The heights I work with when doing box squats are below parallel, parallel and about 1 inch above parallel. You load them up with proper weights ... lighter for lower, heavier for higher .... this actually has been talked about by Defranco before and I made a thread not long ago that had Louie Simmons talking about it as well. I think thats the problem when Skinny Bastards was put up with alot of missing information.
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    I don't rest at all on the box, I just use it to see how far down to go.

    Also good to see another lacrosse player on these forums, do you ever play close defense or LSM?
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  20. #20
    married to squats toad1's Avatar
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    this thread is making me wana box squat again i love putting crazy weights on the bar and squating it, but two heavy leg days is to much for me during the season, so its just front squats and deadlifts. hammy's can't take the workload.
    people ask me how to train, and i answer "i look at what you do and then i do the exact oposite"


    if your family was captured and you were told you needed to put 100 pounds onto your max squat within two months or your family would be executed, would you squat once per week? Something tells me that you'd start squatting every day
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    Originally Posted by KiloNewton View Post
    Interestingly enough I remember one study which showed that accross different sports performance in the front squat (as cmpared to other weight training exercises) is most closely correllated to performance on the field.

    I love front squats, I tend to start my athletes on front squats because it teaches them to squat properly and then they move on to a more backsquat dominant program as they go.

    I don't use box squats or only very rarely. Box squats focus more on the hamstrings and the posterior chain and I like to use deadlifts instead.
    Thas is basically why Louie simmons started incoportaing the box squat so they would not have to deadlift as much, as he said "deadlifts take more than they give"

    Ive found that box squats place alot less stress on my lower back then regular low bar squats
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    Registered User KiloNewton's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by kurtbbbb View Post
    Thas is basically why Louie simmons started incoportaing the box squat so they would not have to deadlift as much, as he said "deadlifts take more than they give"

    Ive found that box squats place alot less stress on my lower back then regular low bar squats
    Whether an exercise like deadlifts takes more than it gives depends on how you are using it. Louie Simmons coaches powerlifters and in the method of training that he uses it is probably true that deadlifts take more than they give. But if you are not a power lifter and you do not need to be doing a westside inspired program deadlifts can be incorporated into a training session to geat effect.
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    Originally Posted by KiloNewton View Post
    Whether an exercise like deadlifts takes more than it gives depends on how you are using it. Louie Simmons coaches powerlifters and in the method of training that he uses it is probably true that deadlifts take more than they give. But if you are not a power lifter and you do not need to be doing a westside inspired program deadlifts can be incorporated into a training session to geat effect.
    The exact wording was for working over 90% .... since most of us will do say 1x5 you get there pretty quick. That's why in skinny bastards you're suppose to switch max effort lifts every 2-3 weeks. Its ok to do speed deadlifts for example at maybe 70% or whatever ... but for the most part you see people doing heavy deadlifting more than light deadlifting.
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    Originally Posted by jgood View Post
    The exact wording was for working over 90% .... since most of us will do say 1x5 you get there pretty quick. That's why in skinny bastards you're suppose to switch max effort lifts every 2-3 weeks. Its ok to do speed deadlifts for example at maybe 70% or whatever ... but for the most part you see people doing heavy deadlifting more than light deadlifting.
    Well, like I was saying; as long as you aren't trying to do a westside inspired program (eg 'skinny bastards') you can use deads to effect. Even in WSFSB you can do them every 2 weeks.
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    Originally Posted by KiloNewton View Post
    Well, like I was saying; as long as you aren't trying to do a westside inspired program (eg 'skinny bastards') you can use deads to effect. Even in WSFSB you can do them every 2 weeks.
    Are you talking about how I said you can use them for different %'s? Still don't really understand what your saying if thats not it .... yup you can use them every two weeks in those programs just so you can change it up for your body.
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    I like the idea of rotating them. We dont do box squats any more but that is more of a preference thing than an anti box squat thing. I used to be heavy into WSB stuff and did a ton of box squatting. It is a solid exercise

    Just be sure you stay tight to protect your back
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    Registered User Fogol's Avatar
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    Some really good information in here, thanks everyone for the replys. Right now i decided im going to be doing front squats, then rotate to box then to normal back squats (i wll rotate every 3-4 weeks)
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    when you are doing box squats make sure you are not like whoever it was who said it burns there quads more. they are idiots. the purpose of box squating is that it uses more glutes and hamstrings then you are able to on regular squats. make sure you sit back and your nees don't go over your toes to get full effect of box squats.
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    Originally Posted by blobriecht View Post
    when you are doing box squats make sure you are not like whoever it was who said it burns there quads more. they are idiots. the purpose of box squating is that it uses more glutes and hamstrings then you are able to on regular squats. make sure you sit back and your nees don't go over your toes to get full effect of box squats.
    Yea good point. Your knees shouldn't ONLY go past your toes but your shins should be CLOSE to perpendicular to the floor
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    Box Squat vs. Free Squat

    I would always suggest squating with freeweights. The first reason being that you have to use a lot more stability when your changing direction and pressing up. Second, I know a lot of people that have herniated discs in their lumbar region of their spine from sitting on a box with a lot of weight across their shoulders. If you are doing box squats, I suggest training them with lighter weights for more of plyos than to heavy train.
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