Box Squat Progression

An image of Dave Tate teaching someone to Box Squat. The squatter is sitting on a box with 315 on the bar and Dave is watching from the side.

Before I begin to introduce the Box Squat Progression, I have a recommendation.

For a TON more info on Box Squats and why they’re superior for wrestlers, read- Strength Training For Wrestling- Box Squat.

Alright, with that out of the way, let’s get into it.

Progression 1

Just like any other exercise I teach, the first progression is mastering the movement with your bodyweight.

Think about it…

If you can’t perform a perfect Box Squat with just your bodyweight, why the hell would you want to put a bar on your back?!

All that’s going to do is promote the development of bad technique AND increase your risk for injury.

If you’re just starting off lifting, don’t be embarrassed starting with this.

I worked with a heavyweight modified wrestler last summer and he couldn’t even perform the bodyweight Box Squat without technical breakdown.

It took close to a month of hammering Progression 1 and 2 before he put a bar on his back.

I had him Box Squat 3 times a week for the first month.

But after his technique was dialed in, he took off.

After 3 months of training (remember the first month was light technique work to build a base of strength) he was squatting 165 for sets of 5!

So, essentially he went up 165 pounds in 3 months!

See what consistency and the right program can do?

Anyway, I’ll stop rambling. Here’s a video of Progression 1- the Bodyweight Box Squat.

Focus on staying upright, driving the knees out and forward, and sitting under control.

Just squat as though the box weren’t there.

When I first started Box Squatting I sat back. However, after years of doing that, I finally concluded that doesn’t carryover to other squats except a geared (squat suit) squat.

It’s why the wrestlers I initially worked with had so much trouble when they switched from Box Squats to Free Squats.

So, in a nutshell, focus on squatting as though the box weren’t there and everything should fall into place.

Progression 2

Once you have mastered the bodyweight version, it’s time to move on.

Depending on your level of strength this may occur within your first session or it may take a month.

Regardless, don’t rush it. Strength training is a marathon, not a sprint.

When it turns into a sprint, injuries start happening.

If you’ve mastered the bodyweight version, but find that the bar is too heavy, you’re a perfect candidate for Progression 2.

Here’s how to do it.

Once you’ve mastered that and have adequate strength, it’s time to move on to Progression 3.

Progression 3

No need for much here.

It’s just a standard Box Squat with a bar.

Here’s an old school video of me demonstrating.

Finally, if you experience pain in your shoulders, elbows, or wrists when using a straight bar, read this post. In the post I detail lots of alternatives to save unnecessary wear and tear on your upper body.

And, if you want to read more about Box Squats and how I use them in programs read- Lifting Programs for Wrestlers.

A picture of Kyle Dake and Dickie White.
Hi, I’m Dickie (the author of this blog). Here I am with my good buddy, Kyle Dake. While he doesn't have a nice coat like me, he is pretty good at wrestling. Here's what he said about my training system:

Before I began lifting using Dickie's system my wrestling skills were getting slightly better. I've now been lifting under his guidance for more than 5 months and I have begun to dominating ALL of my competition. At first I had little faith in Dickie and his program, but now I would run into a wall if he told me I would get stronger! I know it sounds insane, but I would. The bottom line is Dickie is an expert and knows what he is talking about. If you want to defeat those kids whom you've always lost to and reach a level you never thought possible, I suggest you start lifting using Dickie's system immediately.

-Kyle Dake, 4X NCAA Division 1 National Champion
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Want to see what other wrestlers are saying about my training system? Check out my Success Stories page.

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Want to learn more about Dickie? Check out my About page.

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Want to get started on a program today? Read this post and download your free program- 12 Week Training Program For Wrestlers.

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