Box squats are king when it comes to speed training for football. If you want to truly get faster for football, do box squats. A lot. They build raw strength in the glutes and hips and dynamic strength in the glutes and hamstrings. This is especially important for football where the game starts from a dead stop and can often be played in a stop-and-start fashion. Think of how a running back sprints to the hole, gets to the second level, stops, makes a move, and explodes again. Or how a lineman has to explode off the ball from a dead still position. This is the kind of explosive speed box squats build. You can also use box squats as a dynamic effort movement, thus improving your rate of force development (maybe the most overlooked aspect of football speed training).
Dynamic Box Squat video

Benefits of Box Squats. Many of you will struggle to do Squats correctly. While giving up an exercise too early is never the option, switching to Box Squats can allow for safer & faster progress. Benefits:

  • Enforce Proper Technique. You can’t cheat depth and you learn to sit back by moving your hips first. Box Squats also improve hip mobility.
  • Develop Hip Power. Box Squats have you start from a dead stop in the bottom position. This develops a strong, explosive posterior chain.
  • Safer. Rounding the lower back on Squats is common. While you still can do it on Box Squats, it’s much harder and often goes away faster.

Utah Football
BCS busting is nothing new for the University of Utah football team, which crashed the party again this year. According to Doug Elisaia, Utah’s director of strength and conditioning, the players actually increase their strength as the season progresses. “Using the Box Squat,” he says, “95 to 98 percent of our players have actually gotten stronger during the season.”

This leads me to the next big question I’m always getting. “My coach says I need to do power cleans if  I want to build explosive power.” So which one works better?

Ten years ago, only the top College Football schools used the Olympic lifts in their programs. Then, if filtered down to the point where just about every high school football player in the country was at least doing Power Cleans. However, over the last few years there’s been a backlash against using the Olympic Lifts in football weight training programs.

The biggest argument for not using the Olympic lifts comes from the Powerlifting world where Box Squatting is king. It is said that Box Squats actually produce more explosiveness than Cleans.

Once and For All, What’s More Explosive – A Power Clean or a Dynamic Box Squat?

A Power Clean starts on the floor, where the bar is picked up in a controlled manor, once the bar passes the knees, the athlete explodes the bar up and catches it in a 1/4 Squat.

In a Dynamic Box Squat (using chains or bands) the athlete un-racks the bar, sits back (pre stretching the hams and glutes), descends while getting pulled down by the force of the bands, sits and relaxes some muscles while keeping others tense, then has to activate all of those muscle fibers at once to explode the weight up.

From the description alone you should see which is better for football training!

Remember, we are after explosive football training here, the goal is not just to be strong but strong and fast.

Even when doing speed training, we are concerned with explosiveness rather than just straight-ahead speed. We need to build the muscles to be able to cut quickly or to deliver a blow that will knock an opponent back.

However, this does not mean that Power Cleans shouldn’t be done!

They will still build explosiveness, but from a different path. They are hugely helpful in bulking the upper back and traps as well.

So, should you use Box Squats or Power Cleans for Explosive Football Gains?

Actually, you should use both.

Box Squats should be the foundation of your heavy leg training and Power Cleans should be used in certain periods to build your hip explosiveness and add mass to your traps and back.




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