Explosive Leg Strength For Athletes | The Box Squat

Strength is the foundation to develop power.


Josh Gibson Strength and Conditioning Coach, Husband, Athlete and founder of Athletic Preparation We coach hundreds of Athletes, Men and Women to help them realize and train to achieve their full potential of their bodies.This could mean sprinting faster for a 40 yard dash, adding 4 inches to your vertical jump,adding 10 pounds of lean and athletic muscle or burning unwanted body fat.

When the legs are weak, you’re going to have trouble sprinting fast, jumping high and lack the endurance to maintain your speed and power for your sport.

The issue most athletes run into when developing explosive leg strength is that they …

1) they have poor squat technique


2) they don’t squat deep enough


3) the lack activating the posterior chain muscle (glutes / hamstrings)


Now the fastest way to get athletes squatting with proper technique, proper depth and using the right muscles is The Box Squat.


How To Box Squat | 5 Coaching Points


  • Start From The Bottom


  • Start sitting on a box at the appropriate height (where you can maintain a flat back and neutral spine)


  • Slightly push your knees apart so they are stacked over the middle of your feet


  • Shins are more vertical than pointing forward


  • Set Your Feet & Grip The Ground


  • Set your feet where they feel most comfortable which will be slightly wider than hip width and toes slightly turned out


  • Grip the ground with your whole foot that has 3 points of contact on your big toe, pinky toe and heel


  • Brace Your Core


  • Take a deep breathe in that so you feel your entire abdomen, low back, obliques and upper chest inflate in 360 degrees. This creates a stable and strong spine.


  • Pull The Bar Down &  Into Your Back


  • When the bar is on your back, squeeze your shoulders blades back and down so you can feel the bar press into your upper back, traps and shoulders for stability and tension to keep your chest up


  • Spread The Floor & Stand Up


  • To squat the weight up, you want to think about spreading the floor apart (left to right) to engage your glutes, hamstrings and posterior chain to help you squat the most amount of weight and keep your hips and chest raising up at the same rate.


The Benefits Of The Box Squat For Athletic Development


  • You Can Set Proper Squat Depth


Since your squatting the the box under you, the depth is pre-set so you can squat  effectively without worrying about hurting your back or falling backward. This teaches the athletes how to sit down and back while keeping the core engaged and back stabilized for effective force transfer.


You can adjust your squat depth up or down depending on the time of the year and what qualities your training to fully develop the proper strength qualities for the athlete.


  • It Develops Explosive Hip Strength And Posterior Chain


Using the box squat teaches the athletes to “sit back” and use their hips when squatting instead of  sliding their knees forward. This small point completely changes what muscles engage and affects what results you get from the exercise.

When the athlete sits back, they can instantly feel the stretch and loading in their posterior chain (glutes and hamstrings) for instant feedback if they’re doing it right or not.


  • Rapidly Develop Force


Coming off the box teaches the athlete to start from nothing. This means they have to learn how to overcome the weight and resistance with raw strength and power. This is tremendous for athletes where there’s a lot of start / stop and having to get moving from a static position such as lineman for football, rapid reactions in basketball or driving off a mound for pitching.

Squatting up from the box forces the athlete to improve their rate of force development (how fast they can generate force) because while playing sports, time is a factor. They need to be able to explosively and quickly display their strength otherwise they’ll get beat, tackled or get toasted by the competition.

When To Use The Box Squat


The box squat is a highly effective and versatile tool to develop explosive leg strength in athletes.

It can be used to teach the athlete:

  • how to squat
  • the main heavy lift for the day
  • the height can be adjusted to teach proper squat depth OR develop strength at specific angles
  • a safe way to get athletes comfortable handling much heavier weights than they are custom to such as using a 24″ box

Often at my gym Athletic Preparation, we’ll use it as the main lower body lift for with 3-5 sets with 1-5 reps depending on the athlete and time of year.

The box squat is one of the safest, effective and best ways to get athletes squatting with confidence and develop explosive leg strength.

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