Technique is the most important factor in squatting big weights. If you're training with bad technique then it doesn't matter what supplemental exercises you use or how many sets or reps you perform. Your squat will only go so far and then get stuck. This article will describe the correct technique for performing the box squat. I feel the box squat is the best way to train the squat, period. The form is the same as the regular squat but with the added bonus of being able to develop explosive strength. The box squat also places all the stress directly on all the squatting muscles.
Every member of Westside Barbell performs box squats year around with the only regular "free squat" being done in competition. The technique I'll describe has taken my squat from 760 to 935 over the past five years, but I wasn't always a big fan of the box squat. When I squatted 760, I didn't believe in box squatting and trained all my squats the same way many of you are doing now. I used a progressive overload method using the Western method of periodization. The result of all my hard work? My squat stayed at the 730 to 760 range for five years without any progress! I had to change. Part of this change included box squatting.
Now, you may have heard from some sissy wearing spandex that the box squat is dangerous. When someone talks about the dangers of box squatting, it's apparent they simply don't know how to perform the lift correctly. Sure, if you're trying to bounce off the box or you're using more weight than you can handle, then there are definitely dangers to the spine. When performed correctly, however, box squats are safe. And, I believe box squats are so effective that you don't need to perform regular squats in your training at all!
Advantages of Box Squatting
There are many advantages to box squatting:
1) Training on a box will allow you to sit back onto the box to a point where your shins are past perpendicular to the floor. This places all the stress on the squatting muscles (hips, glutes, lower back and hamstrings.) When you can increase the stress on these muscles and lower the stress on the quads, then you'll be ready to see your squat poundages start moving.
2) Restoration is another major advantage of box squatting. You can train more often on a box when compared to free squatting. According to Louie Simmons, the original members of Westside Barbell in Culver City, California, used to perform box squats three times a week. Currently at Westside we train the box squat every Friday for our dynamic workout and occasionally on Monday's maximal effort workouts. If you're new to box squats, I suggest you do them once per week.
Louie Simmons, doing what he does best.3) When performing box squats you never have to guess how low you're squatting. It'll always be the same. Think about it: when most people start adding weight to the bar, their squats get higher and higher. You see this all the time in any gym you go to. They look good with the light weights, then begin doing quarter squats when the weight gets heavy. With box squats, you'll always go low enough.
4) The last reason to box squat is to reinforce good squat technique. Many times for the intermediate or beginning squatter, the hamstrings aren't yet developed and "sitting back" into a squat is impossible without falling over backward. To teach these athletes how to free squat properly would take months. The squat wouldn't look right until the hamstrings and glute strength increases. Why wait two or three months? Put them on the box and you'll have them squatting properly within five minutes. Within one month the hamstrings will begin to kick in because of the added stress of sitting back on the box.
Remember, most people have very poor hamstring and hip strength to squat properly in the first place. If they tried to squat without the box they'd fall over backward. The box is the best way to teach proper squat form while bringing up their weak points. The box squat also breaks the eccentric/concentric chain. This is one of the best ways to build explosive strength. The box squat also causes you to squat from a static contraction to a dynamic concentric contraction, another very effective way to build explosive strength.
^ What's in bold is extremely important.
There's more in the article. I just highlighted some points for you: http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_...om_head_to_toe
I think a box should be around 14 inches high. As long as you're hitting parallel you're fine though. Each person will differ depending on height and build.