Fitness can be a complicated business nowadays. Unless you’ve kitted yourself out with the latest technology, rehearsed your technique on the most complicated new equipment and acquired at least six pieces of sweat-wicking clothing, it can be tempting to avoid bothering altogether.

However, it doesn’t need to be that way. Sometimes all it takes to get a little fitter is to stand up, sit down on a box, and then stand up again. Who wouldn’t want to be better at standing up?

The box squat is a functional exercise that trains all the muscles you use to sit down and get up, with your quads and glutes bearing the brunt of the work. It also works as an excellent conditioning exercise, providing carry-over benefits to the standard barbell back squat, while also remaining a staple in football and rugby training programmes.

How To Do The Box Squat

Get a box. Or a bench. Or a chair. Something you can sit down on. The lower it is the harder the exercise will be. For most, a 40cm-high box will allow you to squat deep enough for your glutes and hamstrings to become parallel with the floor.

With your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointed slightly outward if comfortable, lower your body until only your glutes rest on the box for 1-2sec. Squeeze the glutes and then return to the start position by driving through the heels and hips. Take extra care to keep your back straight and chest elevated.

If you’re attempting this move using a loaded barbell, rest the bar on your upper traps, not your neck, and keep your elbows high throughout the move. This reduces the risk of injury and ensures better control of the bar

Box Squat Variations

Reducing the height of the box is a great way to progress this move. A 30cm-high box should take your hamstrings below parallel and add further tension to the targeted leg muscles.

To isolate each leg for more targeted growth and address any imbalances, the one-leg box squat can provide unique benefits.

One-Leg Box Squat

Once you have located your box stand in front of it, facing the opposite direction. Lift one leg off the ground and sit down on your box, then stand up again, keeping that leg raised the entire time. Once you are standing tall again, switch legs and repeat. 

Try to stay in control on the way down, and ensure you straighten up all the way when standing.

Aim to complete ten box squats on each leg, have a quick break, then do another ten on each. Or dedicate a station in your favourite circuit routine to the exercise.