February 10, 2012
February 15, 2012

We love us some box squats at CFDC, and for good reason: “The form is the same as the regular squat but with the added bonus of being able to develop explosive strength.” So say’s Dave Tate, and since his best squat was over 900 pounds, he probably knows his sh!t when it comes to squatting.

2RM Box Squat 

Although we perform box squats quite a bit, it’s not a bad idea to review a few key points about proper execution.

First, control yourself down onto the box. Don’t flop or crash down. The descent should be controlled the entire way: initiate with the hips, forcefully pushing the butt back and slowly controlling your descent until you are fully sitting on the box.

Second (and probably most important when box squatting), when you sit on the box, you are de-loading your legs, NOT your upper body! Your upper body should remain tight from the moment you begin to squat down and should last until after you’ve sat on the box and stood all the way the back up. The key is taking a deep breath into the abdomen and holding it there – think about squeezing your abs as if someone was going to punch you. The goal should be to hold the breath through out the movement in order to help maintain a tight mid-line and support the spine. Breathing on the box will cost you stability, and shouldn’t be done unless it’s absolutely necessary (i.e., you’re going to pass out). In this circumstance, breath quickly and forcefully – breathing shallow into the lungs, rather than deep into the gut, so that you can maintain tension in the abdomen.

Lastly, due to the nature of the box squat, it’s imperative that you have at least two spotters when going for max attempts, especially if you’re not working in a cage/power rack.  It’s damn near impossible to bail on box squat, and extremely tricky for a single spotter to help a lifter up off the box and back into the rack.  If, at any time, you don’t think a second (or third or fifth or whatever) rep is going to happen, play it smart, and simply re-rack the weight.

2min each of DB Squat Cleans, Sit Ups, Box Side-Steps, DB Push Press, & Rowing

The met-con was simple and straight forward: perform as many reps as possible in two minutes of each of the above exercises. Everyone’s was given 30seconds to rotate to the next exercise, and then repeat. Class only went through the circuit once, but it seemed more than enough to give people’s heart-rates a slight increase.

Congratulations to all the lifters who competed this past weekend in Baltimore. I’ll try to report on the everyone’s final lift numbers as I get them. In the meantime, there’s still 9 days left until the first 2012 CrossFit Games Open workout is announced. We now have 17 people signed up for the Open workouts, but we’re hoping to see a few more sign up. If you have any doubts, concerns, questions, etc., please don’t hesitate to ask.



  1. SBV says:

    Glad to see the return of “Westside” Sundays. I’ve been missing the box squats, seated box jumps, good mornings, deadlifts, GHRs, and sumo speed pulls.

    We’ve been hammering away at the quads lately with our Olympic weightlifting and front squats. And, while I’ve experienced vast improvement on those movements over the last few months, I made an interesting observation yesterday: my glutes/hamstrings weren’t really firing on the box squats. I struggled to explode off the box. Instead, I rose slowly until my quads would kick-in. Only at that point could I really explode upward. Back when we were in a “Westside” cycle, I used to get more explosion off the box.

    I’d love to hear from Tom on whether he believes “Westside” style posterior chain-based movements are congruent with quad-based Olympic weightlifting. For example, would an Olympic weightlifter benefit from movements like sumo speed pulls and box squats? Obviously, for CrossFit purposes, it’s fantastic to hammer both the quads and posterior chain. But, for a more advanced athlete, do you risk training the wrong movements patterns? I ask this because many of the “Westside” guys advocate for USA Weightlifting to adopt more of their movements in an effort to increase overall strength. The traditional weightlifters, however, tend to eshew these posterior chain-based movements. I’d love to hear Tom’s opinion.

  2. Erica says:

    Thanks for explaining that so eloquently SBV, I was really struggling with the same question myself.

  3. Erica says:

    More seriously, I want to give a major thanks to the coaches for excellent cuing for me yesterday. I couldn’t figure out the breathing/what body part to tighten on the box squats yesterday, but excellent coaching helped me get it together. Don’t try to tighten your core or take a good breath once you’re on the box because it won’t happen. That made a huge difference in my ability to “explode” up.

    I think Tom asked which part of the met-con was toughest and I think it was step-overs or rowing machine (weakness of mine).

    It’s really awesome to feel the excitement over the open building up. I really look forward to seeing my fellow teammates kick some serious ass 🙂

  4. Tom Brose says:

    Sebastian, your questions make perfect sense. Throughout the fall we focused on heavy posterior chain work. Sundays ran a rotation of box Squats, DLs and Good Mornings, with speed pulls, manual GH raises, walking GMs, DB RDLs etc sprinkled in. I think that everyone got stronger, and now we’re applying that basis to more quad dominant seeming movements. But olympic lifts themselves requires posterior chain strength as well. With that developed, now we can just concentrate more on the technique and timing of the lifts.

    As CrossFitters, the need is there for both attributes. Brute strength combined with explosive technical lifts.

    Yes, Louie believes that he could reshape USAW into world champs…I think his understanding of Soviet research and the development of the conjugate system may have some potential, but with all respect due, he has a big proverbial hammer, and sees everything as a nail.

  5. SBV says:

    Good stuff, Tom! Didn’t mean to get too technical, but I really enjoy learning about the theory behind our training methods.

  6. ELB says:

    Like SBV, I enjoyed the return to getting back to the “big bar.” I can’t even remember the last time I worked heavy squats of any kind.

    The second met-con that a few of us stayed around for absolutely wiped me. Pointed out some glaring holes that I need to work on.

  7. Tom Brose says:

    I’m happy to talk about this stuff in detail, don’t worry. Overall, I think that a developed competitive WL is generally better served with movements closer to their sport specific requirements. So Sumo work, box squats etc probably are not as applicable. Using a Conjugate approach to strength in the “off season” however might work better than block periodization.

    For Sebastian specifically, I think that your predominance is towards the quads. So, learning to use the glutes and hams was tough, very beneficial, and will drop off without practice- but the benefits will still be there.

    Ethan, thanks for sticking around for that extra work. You know when I use a few of you as guinea pigs its going to be rough. that workout was designed to push people to the brink of failure right off the bat, and just see how long they could hold it off. Not a good feeling at all, but should really help to start seeing where your personal “redline” of intensity is.

  8. Katie says:

    I definitely learned to stay tight at the bottom of the box squat from experience…I let out my breath and relaxed at the bottom and couldn’t get back up! Good learning experience. I worked up to 70#, stayed light since I still have a slight cold…that felt challenging but not TOO hard. I didn’t push myself much on the metcon either — though I did use 15# DB for the push presses, which has been a goal. (to get up from 12.5# for PP/PJ etc. in WODs) Resting up for Tuesday!

  9. Steph says:

    I was surprised at how short the warm-up was on Sunday, and with heavy squats in the programming, it was weird not having any squats in the warm-up. I think because of that it took me a lot longer to warm up once we started on the box squats and the first couple sets felt really heavy.

    I worked with Amelia, Erica and MC on the box squats. I think we all went heavier than we had in the past on box squats. My last set was 2 at 135lbs.

    It was awesome to watch the 3 guys and Julia attack the 2nd metcon after class. They were really pushing it!

  10. Sara says:

    Seems like every time there is a heavy posterior chain barbell day I am not there to join in. I think my posterior chain is getting pissed at me for it. well I have a new barbell to play with for not oly work so I hope we use some barbells in class tuesday.

  11. Tom Brose says:

    Sara, we’ll get you in some heavy work soon, but it sounds like you put up some great numbers at the Baltimore open. Congrats on the lifting and coaching.

  12. Andraea says:

    Glad I finally made it when box squats were being done! I’ve done them on my own since I hadn’t made it to a class when we’ve done them. So it was great to get coached on them! I made it to 135lbs for the last 2.

    The rowing was rough in the metcon for me since that was the last station for me and rowing is usually a tough one for me but it was good to do again. I just go so damn slow!

  13. Ben says:

    It was good to get back on squats, they are not my favorite, but that is only because I’m not great at them. Thanks to Chris for helping me with my set-up on the bar, much appreciated.