Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Squats - Part II - Box Squats

As you may recall from a previous post (date), squats are one of the best overall exercises, using many muscles simultaneously.

Squatting requires proper form and safety. One version of the squat that is appropriate for any fitness level is the box squat.

Many people cannot squat with good form when they first attempt this exercise. Box squats can teach you proper technique. It is also a good exercise for those of you with bad knees that may not be able to free squat anymore (if ever). Even advanced lifters can benefit from this exercise and gain greater power and flexibility.

Here is why it works: Squatting on a box forces you to pause at the bottom. This will recruit more muscle fibers to get you out of the “hole” and back up to the top. The more muscle fibers recruited the more strength and more growth. Another benefit is that you can sit back farther than you could if a box was not under you. This works those hamstrings and glute muscles. These are key in this exercise. Box squats allow you to set your depth accurately. Many lifters make the mistake of increasing weight on the bar but "sitting" at the bottom of their squat at higher and higher point. That defeats the purpose of squatting.

Box Squatting Technique:

Use flat shoes, not running shoes where the heel is built up. Running shoes put your feet on your toes and ball and not the heels where the pressure belongs in this exercise. If you are starting just by using your body weight (in other words, no bar or weights), you could do the exercise in just your socks.

Squatting is about sitting back, not sitting down. If you are using a barbell, step under the bar, raise your chest and pull the shoulder blades together to place the bar on your back as low as comfortably possible. Do not go so low that you are bending forward at the waist.

Turn your feet slightly outward and widen your stance as much as you can comfortably. A wide stance will recruit more hip power. Push your knees out the entire time. Do not let them buckle inward. By forcing your knees apart, you are shortening the distance between the hip and the knee joint. Push your glutes to the rear. Arch the lower back. Keep the chest and head up. Sit back on the box and keep your body tight. Do not relax. Do not bounce off the box. After breaking parallel, (your hips are now below your knees) by sitting back on the box, then you must push with your heels and keep your back tight. Stand up. Keep your head up. Try to push your trapezoid muscles into the barbell first followed by the hips, glutes and the legs.

Whether squatting for the first time or the 1000th time, the box squat will add power, strength and flexibility, while perfecting your technique.

Stay tuned.....

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