Q: My question concerns a recent article of efs about box squatting. I have never really done them but after reading many articles on the benefits including this recent one im wondering how useful they are. http://www.elitefts.com/documents/posterior_chain.htm

Anyway I've always been a full squat person and I got the impression thats what you prescribe. What do you think about boxsquats? Better then fullsquats? Better at developing the p-chain then fullsquats? Do you have your athletes perform them?

A: When it comes down to it I'm generally more concerned that a young athlete is doing some type of squat to at least parallel and the type of squat (box, front, back, olympic, or whatever), is not something that concerns me quite as much. I get a lot of questions from people who think doing 1/4 squats with 95 lbs one month out of the year is "productive squatting"...-Or they think squats will make them slow, stunt their growth, or all the other various myths. I think mainly people just look for a way to get around squatting because it's hard and a lot of people don't have the mental fortitute to handle the pain.

Having said that, I like the low box squats and prescribe them probably around 50% of the time depending on the person and providing they know how to do them correctly. "Proper" box squatting form has to be taught and a lot of times if you don't keep a close eye on athletes and teach them properly they will use high boxes that destroy all the advantages the low box squats offer.

A good illustration of this is the implementation of box squats you see recommended by high school programs using the bigger-faster-stronger training programs. I've gone into high school field houses and seen guys doing 1/4 box squats with weights they had no business handling and they have no lower body strenght or development to show for it.

There are some things that regular squats do that box squats do and vice versa so I would spent some time on both. I would say both types of back squats, back and normal, hit the glutes about the same. The difference is one is more quad dominant and one is more hamstring dominant. If an athlete has strong glutes yet overly dominant quadriceps the box squat is almost always a better option because it is much more of a back half movement. It is also a much more effective teaching tool when teaching someone to squat. They would also be a good option for people who have problems such as I alluded to in this article:

Squats and speed

The reverse is also the case. The regular squat hits the quadriceps and vastus medialis much more which can also be an advantage, particularly in younger athletes. The quadriceps and VMO need to be strong for an athlete to decelerate properly (stop and reverse direction etc.) and stabilize the knee. They also contribute around 50% of the power when accelerating, jumping etc. The problem is, when an athlete has been training for a number of years they generally start to become quad dominant individuals and the hamstrings lag behind. I have rarely ever seen an athlete with an over-developed "dysfunctional" posterior chain, yet the reverse is not true.

What I normally do is start to teach someone how to squat with the box and let them work into squatting without the box. After they get the basic squat strength that I want I will shift them into more of a posterior chain dominant routine where they will tend to stay from that point on and that will obviously involve a lot of box squatting.

Q: I participate in the ever growing popular "Long Ball Driving" events. I started 3 years ago and my first year finished 2nd in Ontario and 3rd over-all in Canada (in my age group) I have had training drives of 345 yds. I am in the Super Seniors division and look forward to qualifying for the World's this year in Las Vegas.

Can isometric strength training improve my hitting distance? If so, approx. (avg) how far? I avg approx. 330 yds but need to be more flexible and stronger to hit further and increase my club head speed.

Is isometric right for someone like me? I do weights but don't need bulging muscles, just improved speed and strength for those extra yards.

A: Isometric training "could" improve your strength and thus help to improve your hitting distance but a better question would be, "does isometric training offer any advantages over "normal" resistance training for me? My answer would be no, iso's aren't gonna be any more effective then regular dynamic training. For someone like yourself I would concentrate on wide grip pullups, deadlifts, squats and perhaps some sort've olympic lift like a power snatch.

Keep the reps below 3-5 on the major movements and have at it. Supplementary lifts would include exercises for your hip abductors like a hip abduction machine as well as exercises for your abs like weighted crunches, cable woodchoppers, and side bends.

A lot of golfers have one hip that sits up higher then the other and the dominant shoulder will sit lower then the other. When you're in the gym pay particular attention to your weak side particularly with exercises such as cable woodchoppers where I recommend you double the volume for your weak side.

The strength of your lower body particularly your hips/glutes and your lats (back muscles) are actually the biggest predictor of success for an event like yours, providing all things are equal with regards to technique and body structure. (which they never are) :). I also wouldn't be averse to muscular gains, as even a 300 + lb jelly roll physique of someone like a John Daly offers some advantages in the ability to produce sheer power when compared to a much smaller man.

Q: In your article "Plyometric Ability - React Like a Cat and Explode Like Lightning!", you pointed out some drills that would aid in proper movement efficieny. Can increasing the different forms of flexibility, using stretching also help improve this? I was thinking it might, since it's hard to move smoothly with tight muscles, but I was sure to what extent stretching would help.

A: It really depends on your sport and what movements you're talking about. Most of the basic plyometric movements that occur in common sports don't come close to exceeding an individual's flexibility limits for a given joint range (running, jumping, etc).

The exception is stuff like martial arts that involve lots of high kicking, gymnastics, olympic weightlifting and sports that inherently require a lot of flexibility. Additionally, a lot of people do not have the hip flexibility for the lateral changes of direction that occur in a sport like football or even the flexbility required to squat correctly. Basically just look at the movements that occur in your sport. If you can't duplicate them without "restriction", specific flexibility training in that particular movement will probably be of more benefit. If you can, flexibility training probably won't directly impact your performance all that much, unless you're trying to correct posture or a muscle balance issue or something similar (which can often result in the aforementioned restrictions).

Remember, cats and other animals in the wild don't go through organized stretching routines yet they certainly move well enough.