Derrick Henry’s Ridiculous-Looking Bench Squat Is Great for Performance

NFL star Derrick Henry is a ridiculously gifted athlete, and his jaw-dropping physical exploits aren’t limited to the playing field.

The 6’3” 250-pound Tennessee Titans running back is much larger than just about anyone else who plays his position, but he’s more than just a bruiser. That can be especially hard to remember since he’s spent the NFL offseason showcasing his unconventional training program, giving fans a look at how he moves big weights in novel ways to prep his run at a third-straight NFL rushing title in 2021.

Henry followed up his viral chaos band pushup video—which had everyone including his quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, attempting the move—with a full lower body training session posted to his Instagram stories, featuring trap bar deadlifts, dumbbell walking lunges, and landmine squat to press extensions. The highlight of the series was a round of heavy barbell box squats to a bench, which Henry appeared to knock out with ease. From some careful study of the clip, it appears that he’s working through sets of 10 reps with around 465 pounds on the bar, depending on how heavy the interior plates actually are. For most people, that’s a whole lot of weight.

The way that he does the box squat will be particularly useful for his on-field athletic goals. When we teach the exercise at Men’s Health, the focus is on owning the eccentric (lowering) portion of the movement to emphasize control, hamstring and glute involvement, and maintaining a vertical shin angle throughout the rep. Here, Henry controls the weight down at a faster clip, taps the pad on the bench briefly, then explodes up.

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“The good thing is he’s not losing core control on the box (partly because he’s tapping it),” says Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. “Fundamentally he’s doing it as a safe way to expose himself to a heavy load sans spot, which is why a lot of NFL guys do it that way.”

Henry’s squat depth is also primed for power. While you might have experienced fellow gym-goers scolding you for not lowering your butt below parallel (or to the floor, in extreme cases), there are key reasons why athletes use quarter squats in their training—namely, to build power and replicate the range of motion they’ll actually use in competition. “When we talk about power positions, his hips are above knees,” Samuel continues. “The box height is intentionally that (hence the situp pad on top of the bench to add some height. He hits a power position vs. hitting squat depth.”

All in all, that’s a big man moving big weight with ease. Cornerbacks, beware.

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