Big, thick, strong, powerful legs are the sign of someone who not only looks impressive from head to toe but also possesses the raw power of a true athlete. In ancient Greek art depicting athletes of the day, you see well-proportioned men with massive lower bodies to carry their equally immense upper bodies. The beauty in their physiques stems from both the form and function of their muscularity.

To carry a balanced physique, you need to build huge legs, and there's no better way to develop big legs than by doing big squats. And there's no better way to get big squats than by performing the box squat. Top-level powerlifters who use this form of the squat in their training programs have added 100-200 pounds on their squats! You can do the same by learning how to properly do this squat technique.

Benefits in a Box

The benefits of the box squat are many. First on the list is the fact that squatting on a box forces you to pause at the bottom, which causes you to recruit more muscle fibers to get you out of the hole and back up to the top. More muscle fibers recruited equals more strength and more growth. The second benefit is that you can sit back farther than you could if a box wasn't under you. This places more stress on the powerful hamstrings and glute muscles, which are key movers in this exercise. A third advantage is that you can accurately set how low you'll go in your descent, simply by adjusting the box height. Last, but in no way least, the box is a great tool for teaching yourself proper squatting technique — and the heavier your squat gets, the more important technique is.

NEXT: Box Squat Tips & Workout Routine >>

Box Squat Tips

In the box squat, you descend until you barely touch the box under you. Freeze in that position just above the box for a second, then drive the bar back up as quickly as possible. While some lifters choose to apply all their weight on the box, we don't recommend this technique — it displaces the tailbones in your pelvis and can result in lower back pain and sciatica (nerve pain).

Follow the workout outlined here and use these tips to do the box squat right.

  • Use a padded box that's 18 inches high on one side and 13 inches on its other sides. This allows you to practice training at a higher box height for a while, then lowering to 15 inches (13-inch side with a couple of 45 plates underneath) and eventually move to a 13-inch height.
  • When you start training with a given weight for your heavy box squat sets — say 315 pounds — first train through the three height increments (18, 15 and 13 inches) before increasing your weight. Then add about 20 pounds and start the process again at a box height of 18 inches.
  • Use various squat stances. This helps recruit different muscle fibers from the quads, hamstrings and glutes, and will lead to greater overall size and strength.
  • Place the bar low on your back to obtain maximal surface-area contact with the bar and to keep your center of gravity low.
  • Keeping your lower back arched will be your best defense in preventing low-back injuries. Work on strengthening your lower abs, and keep them tight.
  • Use a competent spotter, and have a second guy watch your squat height. He can call out 3-2-1-squat to indicate the inches from the box so you don't crash and crush your tailbone.

The Workout

Excercise Sets Reps
Squat 3 12-4-2
Box Squat 4 2-2-1-10
Leg Press 3 10-8-6
Hack Squat 3 2-4-10
Leg Extension 3 4-15-1

Attempt this type of heavy leg day only once every 2-4 weeks.