Boxes for Lifting

by Thom Van Vleck

Boxes of different sizes can be a real plus to any gym.  They can be used for a variety of things.  Let’s look at some of the types.

Squat Boxes

My squat boxes with a 1 inch spacer that I can use to take them from 8" to 25". They are reinforced with a 2x4 frame inside.

Most people think of them for box squats which is what mine probably get used for the most.  I prefer to NOT do the box squats where you actually sit down on the box, but instead use mine to gauge depth.  But that debate is for another article.  These boxes aren’t always the strongest because they typically aren’t used to drop weight on.  Mine are strong enough to hold someone standing on them plus weight, but not drop the weight.  I made mine so that one box could be flipped on a side for a different height (I stole that idea from Al Myers….who probably stole it from someone else).  I have used mine for setting weights on to allow for different starting heights, as plyo boxes, and for many other things over the years.  They are just handy to have!

My "Jerk Boxes" that Al Myers made for me. These are made of metal and are a fixed height.

Jerk  (High) Boxes

These boxes are built with the intent of dropping the weight on them.  They need to be super durable.  I have some high ones that Al Myers made me that I asked for after injuring my should trying to “catch” a heavy push press.  Al made them….then liked them so much he made some for himself.  They have a thick sheet of rubber on them as well.  The High “Jerk” boxes I have are a steel frame with wooden platform on top.  They are usually made of wood.  Mine set high enough from me to do push presses and Jerks while standing over them.  I can also take squats out of them but from a low position. Usually these have a way to makes some adjustments on them, mine were custom for my height.

Pull (Low) Boxes

These are 3"-6" short solid wood boxes. They are stackable up to 9" for the Peoples Deadlift.

These boxes are also built with the intent of dropping weights on them.  In this case they are low for doing pulls and are built very strongly for dropping the heaviest of weights.  I have 4 boxes.  Two are 3″ thick and the other two are 6″ thick.  I can stack them and make them 9″ or the same as a People’s Deadlift.  Mine are scrap boards sandwiched with plywood and rubber matting.  I put handles on them to make them easy to move.  They are solid wood glued and screwed together.

Other “Boxes”.

There are many things you could use to achieve the same purpose and often it can mean re-purposing other objects.   If you are like me, you will find many other uses for these boxes in your training than what they were first built for.  This is especially true as I get older but at the same time as my kids train more and more I find them coming up with creative ways to use the boxes (and not all of it involves lifting…but that’s okay, too!).

The Box Squat

by Chad Ullom

Scottish Highland Game Champion Dave Brown utilizes box squatting in his training.

My training partner Scott Campbell & I have been using a box for many years to squat off of.   Al recommended box squats to me and they have worked out great for us!   I remember using a box in high school with the Bigger Faster Stronger program, but it was only used as an above parallel  box.   The box we use can be set to a 12, 14 or 16 inch height.  The 12 inch height is about 2 inches below parallel, 14 is at parallel and 16 is about 2 inches above.  I like the variety the box offers, helping with range of motion for deep squats on the 12 inch side while allowing you to feel more weight on your back when you use the 16 inch side.  It also takes out the guess work on depth!  I know I would finish high at times when the weight was heavy or if I was fatigued, but you can’t cheat if your butt doesn’t hit that box.  You have to make sure it’s far enough back that your hamstrings don’t make contact first and it’s just a touch and go.  Don’t drop real fast and crash down on the box.  It’s just there to let you know when you hit the depth you’re looking for.