Box Squat vs. Squat TO Box (Yes There’s a Difference)

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A few months ago I wrote an article for titled Squatmeggedon – All Things Squatting, where I discussed several different thought processes I had as it relates to SPOILER ALERT:  squatting.

One topic that struck a chord with me (which is why I wrote about it), as well as with many people who read the article, was the differentiation I made between box squats and squats TO a box.  While some may feel it’s borderline redundant – dude, aren’t they the same thing? – I’d argue they’re anything but.

Sure, they both have the word squat in their title, and yes, they both incorporate a box.  You got me there. But outside of those two obvious things, that’s where the similarities end.  You see, for me, it comes down to WHY you would use one over the other.  What’s the rationale for having someone box squat compared to having them squat to a box?

Simple.  Watch the video, and find out.

A few quick notes beforehand:

1.  This wasn’t meant to be a dissertation on how to squat. While I do go into a little detail on the proper set-up and things to look for on the descent, the real meat and potatoes lie in the separation between a box squat and a squat to box. Besides, the video is six minutes long, so cut me some slack for crying loud.

If you want to have your world rocked, and are looking for something that goes into more length, I’d highly suggest checking out Matt Wenning’s So You Think You Can Squat series HERE.

2.  A huge thanks goes out to Kennet Waale, who’s currently visiting CP on school break all the way from Brisbane, Australia.  I asked him to be my squatting guinea pig on the spot and he came through like a champ.

3.  Also, I want to thank one Chris Howard for the Spielberg’esq camera work.

4.  Compared to my first video on deadlifts, no sexual innuendos this time around.

If you found this video informative or helpful or maybe even a smidge “the best video you’ve ever watched,” please share it on your Facebook page or on Twitter.  Likewise, if you can also do me a huge favor and click the “Like” button at the bottom of this post, I’ll be your BFF for like a day.  Maybe even two.  But only if you make me a meatloaf.

On that note, feel free to leave your comments below.  I’d love to know what you think!  Additionally, if there are any topics you’d like me to cover in future video blogs, let me know.  I’m always looking for ideas.


Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

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  • R Smith


    Damn fine video. As someone who (a) has done both versions and (b) seen both versions murdered, I can attest that you nailed all the relevant info.

    *Sure wish he’d give us one of these videos a week–at least. But I’m WAY too grateful to ask.*

  • Diana

    I’d love it if you covered low bar vs. high bar squat. I’ve mostly seen high bar, but do low bar myself and I wonder if there’s a reason behind why you do one versus the other.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the suggestion Diana…..I might do that one down the road.

  • Hi

    I agree with Diana. Can you make that video? And how to set-up/execute both.

  • Mike A.

    great video TG. Notice that you sized up out of your Smedium for this video. Few questions if you dont mind.

    1) Who laughed when you said “ginger”?
    2) How do you feel about playing with stance width during a traditional box squat? For an athletic population, not powerlifters, do you feel there is any benefit to the super wide stance?
    3) You have your athlete here pause for a one-one thousand. Personally I give my athletes a two count. Louie Simmons suggests that the SSC can last for up to 7 seconds. Are you really looking to just break the eccentric/concentric action or do you really want to get rid of the SSC?


    • Anonymous

      2. Depends on one’s hips. Super wide for ME, crushes me. I think varying stances every 1-2 weeks would be the best way to go, however. But, as a general rule, slightly wider will place more emphasis on the hammies.

      3. Yeah, I kind of mis-spoke on that one……sorry. I realize the SSC lasts longer than a 1-2 second count. Ideally, with box squats, all I’m really looking to do is break the eccentric/concentric chain.

  • Barath

    As far as I understand, the whole point of coming to a complete halt on the box (what you call “box squat”) is that your lower body has to fire like crazy to propel you – this way you build strength and mass in your legs and quads. In regular back squat, one can use a little momentum to fire yourself up and this momentum, however little, gets eliminated in box squats. I just don’t see what the advantage of squatting to a box is – specifically, I don’t see what it does that regular back squats don’t do. In fact, here you seem to be doing the exact opposite of box squats, by trying to bounce off the box a little which seems counterproductive to me.

    What am I missing?

    • Chris A.

      I think, and Tony may correct me here, but the squat to a box allows you to target the posterior chain just a little more than a regular back squat would, particularly when you start to get closer to depth. In the bottom of the squat you’re actually pulling yourself down into the hole almost (at least in my experience/understanding of the movement) using your hip flexors and internal rotators to get you down the last few inches. Not sure if this is what they teach over at CP but I remember reading it on Robertsons blog or something and have used it with some success. Anyway that component doesn’t seem to be as vital in the squat to a box.

      PS Tony you need to start using intern Sean in your videos man! haha

  • Mike A.

    Barath, the point of squatting TO a box is mainly that it allows you to teach a beginner proper squat depth. No cheating with a box, you either touch it or you don’t.

    • Barath

      Ah, thanks! I wasn’t paying enough attention the first time I saw the video, but I went back and saw it again, and see that this was mentioned.

  • Rozin Abbas

    Good stuff, Tony. What’s your take on Matt teaching people to squat with their neck in extension as opposed to neutral?

    • Anonymous

      Eh, not a fan to be honest. Then again, when you’re squatting the weights that those guys are squatting, you can let a few things slide

  • Great stuff Tony! Def keep more videos like this coming! I always enjoy watching the guys are CP coach and see what cues and coaching points you focus on. Thanks!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks John. By the way, I spoke with a trainer who attended your workshop last weekend and he said he really enjoyed it. I’ll have to try to make it down sometime

  • Tony –

    I almost exclusively box squat – (pause on the box). I do this for a couple of reasons. The first being that I need that cue to help me get down to depth. The second is that I just like it. I use a box with both my front & back squats. Am I overdoing it? Do I need to move away from my pacifier and just man-up and squat without the box?

    • Anonymous

      It might not hurt to change it up a bit. I like to switch squat variations every two weeks or so. Whether or not I do that with a client depends on their proficiency with the movement.

  • Smitty

    Great video Tony.

  • Rees

    I like the cues. Good stuff.

  • Great stuff!! Although, I was a bit distracted by your perfect posture. haha.
    Keep the videos coming!

  • Danny

    It would be great to see a troubleshoot of the hinge pattern. I always have issues when teaching someone to hinge and most of the same issues keep coming up (rounding upper back, too stiff in the knees, hyper-extending the neck, etc). Some people don’t respond to shoulders in the back pocket, drive your hips back to the wall behind you, or some other very powerful cues). We all know these things aren’t great to see and everyone has their own way of dealing with these issues, but what are some ways YOU would get people to either learn the hinge or get them to actually be able to hinge.

  • JMJ

    Well done. Thanks for the insight. I’m guilty of rocking during box squats, will work on that next week.

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  • Prakash

    Tony – what if you can’t squat to that depth without ‘butt winking’ or keeping an arch/neutral spine? I’m sure I read on Mike Robertson’s blog that he only gets clients to squat to a depth they can safely manage in neutral spine and then works on their mobility (hip flexors, hammies, glutes, etc) to increase their depth. What do you recommend? Should you only do if your butt doesn’t tuck under (therefore straining lumbar spine) to that depth but of course work on mobility to eventually attain that depth?

    • Anonymous

      I’m in the same boat as Mike. I use what ROM they DO have and work from there. If that means starting with a higher box height, then so be it.

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  • Great vid, thanks for posting it here) Also thanks for your kind of “tutorial” on squatting, I like the way you’ve explained everything))

  • A great tutorial on squat boxing, honestly))) Thanks a lot for posting the info here, it was nice to come across this blog in the internet))

  • Tony, it’s an awesome video! If I just  could do something like that….
    Hope to see more!
    And! Try this scrabble helper

  • jag


    Great video. With a Box Squat, I find that there are times when I end up transferring weight onto the box, that is, sitting on the box. Find it hard not to do this. I am assuming that one should not be doing this but rather holding onto ones’s own weight with minimal “sitting’ on the box. Any tips to avoid this – am I lifting too heavy? Should I go lighter to avoid the “sitting”? Thanx

    • TonyGentilcore

      “Sitting” on the box is fine, you just don’t want to lose tension at the bottom. Basically, try not to RELAX when you sit onto the box. Rather, you want to make sure you maintain tension (hopefully that makes sense).

  • Tony, thanks  for this video! It’s just awesome! I used to do just box squat, so this is quite new to me. Thanks   again! Waiting for the next tutorials!
    By the way, you  can try a mov to avi converter.  I hope  you will like it!


  • Thanks for the explanation. I always though that there’s no difference between box squats and squats to a box. I used to consider them as synonyms but now I feel there is a difference. Thanks for the post.
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    • TonyGentilcore

      Glad it was helpful Josef. Thanks for reading!

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