The box front squat is a commonly overlooked exercise that can yield otherworldly results in bringing up your squat, deadlift, core, and lagging legs.
It’s a simple — yet challenging — variation of the already-tough front squat.
By taking out the stretch-reflex cycle or momentum out of the front squat by adding a box into the equation, the box front squat is an amazing exercise you can add to your arsenal that forces you to front squat with correct form — otherwise you will have to abandon the movement.
I, personally, have enjoyed great success in hammering my legs, core, and upper back with the box front squat as it quickly became a mainstay in my program when I was a powerlifter.
Why You Should Do The Box Front Squat
If you can’t box front squat, you can’t front squat.
I urge many of my newer lifters to practice squatting onto a box before they can squat regularly for a variety of reasons.
It forces you to maintain tight, upright, plus it will give you the psychological confidence to execute the movement correctly.
Moreover, the box set up, taking out some of the tension, becomes an irreplaceable opportunity to sneak in more volume.
1. The Box Front Squat Will Correct your Form
As mentioned, the box front squat will help correct your form.
Far too many inexperienced lifters tend to rock forward and lose control of the bar which is already in a precarious position to start with.
This variation, with having a box to aim for, will help you establish correct motor patterns for an efficient squatting movement.
You have to keep upright throughout the box front squat, otherwise the bar will roll forward off your shoulders.
By descending onto the box, you can adapt more efficient positions out of the hole as the stretch-reflex cycle is eliminated, meaning that you cannot be reliant on the momentum in the front squat or elasticity stored in your tendons when rising out of the hole.
2. You Can Add More Overall Volume Into Your Training
As the box front squat eliminates some tension from the movement, you can hit higher rep ranges with weights you would not be able to do without the box in place.
When I used to powerlift, the box front squat was a warm up to heavy deadlifts as it activates many of the same muscles, as we will discuss later.
But one of the best added benefits to this squat variation is that you can incorporate more overall volume into your training to promulgate strength development and muscle growth where it counts.
For this reason, the box front squat is one of the best squat and deadlift accessory movements out there — especially if you’re not averse to packing on mass in the process.
3. It Has High Stimulus to Low Fatigue
As opposed to just heavy squatting, the box front squat is less fatiguing, but boasts a high level of muscular stimulation. At the height of my powerlifting training, I could squeeze in 2-3 box front squat sessions a week.
For this reason, the box front squat is a great exercise to implement into your program when you are dieting to lose fat.
During a deep caloric deficit, you will not have similar energy levels to being in a bulk or at a caloric maintenance.
This means, you get a lot of bang for your buck in this variation without becoming overly tired and abandoning your leg day prematurely.
4. There’s Immense Carryover to A Number of Other Exercises/Activities
As it trains many of the other muscles trained in other exercises such as the squat, deadlift, row, etc., this lower impact/high reward exercise can help you blow up your numbers in the squat, deadlift, vertical, and sprints.
The box front squat was a great warm up exercise to deadlifting as it trained most of the muscles used in the deadlift.
And, as a sumo puller, I was able to use a wider stance on the box front squat, which enabled me to mimic a similar starting position to my pull, but with a lower starting point, helping me to become more powerful off the floor in the deadlift.
The box front squat also transferred nicely to my main squat due to it overloading the quads in a way that I found to be superior to the traditional squat, resulting in higher numbers.
Furthermore, given the corrective nature of the box front squat, it enabled me to enhanced my squatting form.
Lastly, the position also imitates a vertical jump, making it a near-perfect exercise to bring up my jumping ability. Athletes can benefit more from this box squat variation than from a traditional box squat.
5. It Reduces Spinal Loading & is Gentler on the Lower Back/Knees
Given the positioning of the bar over the shoulders, range of motion, and lower total weightload, the box front squat is a safer option for the spine and knees.
Moreover, inexperienced lifters who botch the front squat, given its easier-to-bail position of the bar across the front deltoids, can abandon the movement more safely than its back squat counterpart.
As you are dealing with a lighter weightload, it places less stress on the spine.
Please read our article on spinal decompression for more information.
6. Your Upper Back and Core Will Get One Hell of a Workout
In order to keep the bar stable on your shoulders, you will need to unlock an enormous amount of strength in your upper back and core.
Likewise, in the bottom portion of the lift off the box, you will be challenged in keeping the bar still to complete the lift.
In the past, I’ve called the box front squat one of the best core exercises out there — nothing will work your obliques quite like it when you begin loading on the plates to the bar.
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