BOX SQUAT? The First Thing We Do!

The Box Squat can help those athletes who cannot get into a perfect parallel squat position. Learn how.

By Dr. Greg Shepard
Published: Spring 1999
The Parallel Squat is perhaps the most difficult for an athlete to learn of all the core or multi-joint exercises. Even the concept of correct positioning is a difficult one for most high school athletes. Correct positioning means that the head, eyes, chest lower back, hips, knees and feet are in perfect alignment and in the best power line as possible. Judging from my experience with thousands of athletes from different high schools, at least 80% of all athletes cannot get into a perfect position. This includes experienced lifters with good programs.
The Box Squat makes these hard concepts very easy to understand and experience. For this reason, the Box Squat is the very first thing we do at clinics. Anyone can sit on a Box Squat and get into a perfect position using our simple technique guidelines. At our BFS clinics, we routinely take large groups of over 100 athletes, grades 7 through 12, boys and girls, and teach them how to do a perfect Box Squat in less than 10 minutes. This includes experiencing a perfect power line position.
Having learned these vital principles and position, the athletes can now move quickly and correctly to the Parallel Squat, Snatch, Trap/Hex Bar and Power Clean as well as any other lift. I know this sounds incredible but toward the end of a BFS clinic day, we can take a novice junior high athlete, boy or girl, and have them do a great Power Snatch in less than three minutes. Learning common lifting principles applicable to all lifts is the key. The Box Squat starts all of this progression and puts it into motion.


It is best to begin the Box Squat about two inches above parallel. However, taller or very heavy athletes may do better with a box that places them three or more inches above parallel. It is vital that all sets and reps done, especially at first, be done easily and with perfect technique. All athletes need to experience success from the very first day. Placing any athlete in a position of struggling with heavy weight with a rounded lower back is not smart. The BFS Booster Box System insures both safety and immediate success.
Experienced athletes with great technique can also benefit from the Booster Box System. For example, our system includes three quarter inch increments from a Small Box Squat of 16.5 inches to an extra tall Box Squat of 21 inches. When an athlete masters a certain height with a certain weight, he can bring down the height for further development. The height can eventually be brought down to parallel in the off-season but during the season, the Squat Box should remain at two-inches above parallel.
One final note: There are still those who argue about the dangers of the Box Squat. They cite shearing forces and/or spinal compressions. However, in my experience working with tens of thousands of athletes on the Box Squat, I believe it is a safe tool for all athletes. It is time that this perceived danger be put to rest. The Box Squat gives any athlete and team a huge advantage over their competition.
Our new BFS Squat Video demonstrates how to safely and effectively use the Box Squat program and incorporate it into any training program. It is our best one!

The Box Squat makes it so easy to get your athletes into the perfect position with the back locked in.

This athlete demonstrates the Box Squat sequence from sitting under control to exploding upward on toes.