For over two decades Bigger Faster Stronger has been training coaches and athletes from across the country. For years we have featured three unique lifts we believe make a real difference: The Box Sq
By Greg Shepard
Published: Winter 1999
The Box Squat:
We do two squat workouts per week during both the off and in-season. One is a Parallel Squat workout while the other is a Squat Variation workout. Most programs also feature two squat workouts: One heavy and one medium or light. You can't physically or mentally take two heavy squat workouts per week. We use the Squat Variation principle to add variation and to increase the number of personal records available to break. I also don't like to get kids all psyched up to win and then say, “Oh, by the way, today we are working out light.” We are going all out and we use primarily the Box Squat or Front Squat for our variation. The Box Squat gives athletes some wonderful advantages. At clinics, it is the first lift we do. Everyone can Box Squat with great form. It is the easiest of any core lift to do correctly. They can easily get the idea of spread the chest, be tall, eyes on target, toes and knees aligned and assume their athletic stance. The Box Squat develops hip and hip tendon strength like no other lift, but most importantly you recover almost instantly. This advantage has far reaching ramifications. To illustrate this advantage at BFS clinics, I have all the athletes gather at the three-point line in the gym. I ask, “Is there anyone here who has done a heavy Parallel Squat workout?” Invariably, a coach or an athlete will respond. “How did your legs feel afterward,” I ask. The answer, “Like jelly, coach.” “How do they feel the next day?” I keep asking. “Still sore, coach.” Finally, I ask, “Would you want to get timed for money on a forty the day after Parallel Squats or bet on a Vertical Jump max?” It's always the same. “No way!” I then pick out a good junior running back and a junior volleyball player. I have them both take about six max jumps on the basket. Everyone visualizes how high they are on the backboard or rim. Next, we do a heavy, heavy Box Squat workout doing eleven reps on the last set. I select more weight than they think they can do so that they can just barely make the 11th rep. They are motivated. Everyone is clapping and yelling. The gym is rocking. The average running back will do 400-pounds for eleven reps on a Squat Box which is only about two-inches above parallel. After 30-60 minutes, everyone comes back to the basket and we take another six max jumps. What do you think happens? Most coaches and athletes would think, under these circumstances, you couldn't jump at all, let alone go for a max. Almost every time, they go as high or higher and do it almost effortlessly. Now, what does this mean? It means you have fully recovered almost instantly. It means you have the option of doing Box Squats the day before the game. Your competition does not. This means you can make great gains during the season while your competition is stuck on a maintenance program. It means you can have a quality sprint and jump workout the day after Box Squats during the of-season. Your competition cannot. It means more gains in jumping and speed. Some coaches erroneously think the Box Squat will compress the spine. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Box Squat will give you a huge advantage over your competition. The beauty of it all is that probably only one out of three or four football opponents will also do Box Squats. Even less in other sports. So, go for it.
The Hex Bar Deadlift:
The Hex Bar is an improved version of the Trap Bar. It weighs 45 pounds. The advantages of the Hex Bar include building an overall strength base in the hips, legs and trunk area and it does it safely, because you can lift right through the center of gravity. You can stay in a correct “Power Line.” Shoulder Shrugs can also be done at the end of a set. Therefore, you can develop great traps. Another advantage is space. Hex Bars don't take up much room. Also, the workouts are quick. They only take about two-thirds the time of a Bench or Squat workout. The primary reason we use the Hex Bar is to develop jumping strength. We use a jump stance and pull. Power Cleans or Power Snatches develop explosive jumping power. The Hex Bar builds jumping strength. We also have a High Hex Bar for taller athletes or athletes who just have a hard time getting into a safe position on the regular Hex Bar. The Hex Bar workout can also be done during the season.
The Glute Ham Developer:
The Glute-Ham Raise is a top priority BFS Auxiliary exercise. It develops the whole body of the Glutes and Hamstrings from origin to insertion. It is vastly superior to Leg Curls. Normally, we do two sets of ten reps, although you can do as many as 25 reps per set. The Glute-Ham Raise will also strengthen the lower back and spine area. It is an excellent rehabilitation exercise. The Glute-Ham Raise was first made popular by the Russians who did extensive research on its benefits. By 1980 every gym in Russia had a Glute-Ham station. Today, every high school and college weight room should have at least one Glute-Ham Developer.