The back squat is a key exercise for developing boxing performance.
In this article, we’ll give you some key tips for performing back squats with great technique, which will help improve your strength and in turn, punching force.
The back squat is an exercise used in many sports and fitness programs because it has multiple benefits. It improves
The squat, if performed and loaded correctly, can improve lower body impulsiveness, hip extension forces and eccentric utilisation of the quads, hamstrings and glutes. These functions play a huge role in punching and striking force.
The squat is also versatile. It can be loaded, light, medium, heavy or with a fixed bar to train isometric activity of the core. This can improve ‘effective mass’ and increase the snap in your punch.
Check out this raw video where Boxing Science S&C coach Danny Wilson gives Lewis Crocker tips on improving his Back Squat.
Limitations of back squatting
Despite being a beneficial exercise, the back squat does have some limitations.
Not everyone will be able to perform a great looking back squat, with good depth and control straight away, and the safest and most optimal technique often takes a while to learn well.
Good shoulder, hip and ankle mobility are required to perform the back squat well. With over 65% of boxers demonstrating mobility issues around these areas, then a back squat isn’t often the best choice for these athletes. We’ll often have to adapt our programme and choose a different squatting variation, such as a safety bar squat, to match the athlete
When using high loads over large ranges of motion back squat also can make an athlete sore the next day, especially in the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. This can negatively impact boxing training sessions, with soreness and fatigue. For this reason, we tend to include high load back squats in off season training blocks, or limit the reps to under 5 at a time. We’ll also include back squats later in the training week (Thursday/Friday) as opposed to earlier (Monday/Tuesday), so that if any soreness is experienced, it is experienced at the weekend when the athlete is not training.
With taller and less mobile athletes, they may struggle to achieve a good deep squat position, due to long limbs restricting ankle mobility and depth. A good pair of weightlifting shoes can help this, with the elevated heel reducing mobility demands.
Alternatives to back squatting
With athletes with less experience of squatting (Under 6 months), we’ll opt for Goblet, Landmine, Box, or Paused variations, to build up the technique foundations first. Once an athlete can demonstrate good control and technique with these movements, then we’ll look to move them on to back squats.
With an athlete struggling to achieve a good deep squat position due to being tall or less mobile, we’ll aim to develop their mobility over a course of time.
However, these athletes still need to get strong and fast, so we’ll programme partial range squatting variations with less depth. These might include box, Anderson of Safety Bar squats, so we can still achieve a high load squatting pattern, without the high demands on mobility.
In this article, we have learned
Why back squatting is so effective for improving a boxers performance
Key technical points we should be aware of when performing and coaching back squats
Some limitations of back squatting for boxers, and some solutions and alternative exercises.
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