Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredChains
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePush (Bilateral)
  • Experience LevelAdvanced
  • Secondary Muscles
    Abs, Adductors, Calves, Glutes, Hamstrings, Hip Flexors, Lower Back
Target Muscle Group


Quads Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Back Squat to Box Against Chains Overview

The back squat to box against chains is a variation of the barbell back squat against chains and an exercise used to strengthen the muscles of the legs.

The use of chains, as seen in the back squat to box against chains, allows you to overload the top portion of a lift.

The use of a box limits the range of motion of the squat and provides an external cue on when to reverse the movement.

The back squat to box against chains is a great exercise to use if you’re looking to get stronger on the squat exercise, especially if you struggle while locking out at the top of your reps.

Back Squat to Box Against Chains Instructions

  1. Position the bar just below shoulder level and adjust the safety stops right above knee height. Find a box set right at parallel and position 2-3 feet behind you. Once the bar has been loaded, attach chains to the bar to add additional resistance. Ensure that the chains are long enough to actually touch the ground when the bar is racked on your back.
  2. Place your pinkies on the smooth ring of the barbell.
  3. Get under the bar and position it at the top of your rear deltoids.
  4. Unrack the bar, take 2-3 steps back and position your feet at shoulder width.
  5. Take a deep breath and keep your elbows in line with your torso.
  6. Descend by simultaneously pushing the hips back and bending the knees.
  7. Once your butt touches the box, begin to reverse the movement.
  8. Keep your abs braced and drive your feet through the floor.
  9. Finish the lift by exhaling as you fully extend the hips and knees.

Back Squat to Box Against Chains Tips

  1. Ensure that the chains are loaded on the ends of the bar and that some links are still touching the floor at the top of the movement.
  2. By adding chains to the bar you will allow yourself to overload the top half of the movement given that the chains will elongate and add the most weight at the top of the movement. This allows you to use a weight you might not be able to manage for a full repetition normally but given the variable resistance from the chain, you are able to overload the lockout without getting stuck in the hole.
  3. Toe angle is highly individual - experiment to see what feels best for you.
  4. Bend the bar over your back by pulling it down into your traps.
  5. Experiment with a “false” (i.e. thumbless) grip as this helps to eliminate elbow and wrist issues in some folks.
  6. Drive through the whole foot - you want 3 points of contact: big toe, little toe, and heel.
  7. Imagine you’re trying to drop your back pockets straight towards your heels. Down, not back.
  8. Some forward translation of the knees over the toes is alright provided that the knees don’t deviate excessively inward or outward. Those with longer femurs will have to allow their knees to come farther forward if they want to remain upright.
  9. Drive your traps into the bar and try to squeeze your elbows in towards your body as you reverse the movement out of the hole.
  10. Neck position is highly individual as well - some prefer a neutral neck position (i.e. keeping the chin tucked throughout the lift) while others do well with looking straight ahead. Experiment with each and see which one works best for your anatomy.
  11. Low bar positioning will require the lifter to sit back into the hips with more forward lean at the torso to recruit the posterior chain more effectively.
  12. Don’t push the knees out excessively but ensure they track roughly over or slightly outside the 2nd toe.