Squat Research

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Squat Research

Postby Canuck Singh » Fri Jul 18, 2008 7:41 pm

EMG Research on Squats, stance and depth

Recent electromyography (EMG) research revealed that variation in stance width during the squat did not affect isolation of leg muscles, which is contrary to what many lifters believe. More EMG research now shows that the depth of your squats is the major determinant of glute activation.

The “glutes” (gluteus maximus) are what bodybuilders call the **** muscles. These muscles are the prime-mover in the squat exercise. This research examined EMG activity of the glutes and some other leg muscles during the barbell squat exercise. The purpose of this study was to test the effect of three different squatting depths on the relative contributions of the hip and thigh muscles during the barbell squat.

Interestingly, results revealed that the activity of other hip and thigh muscles, such as the quadriceps, did not vary with the depth of the squat. However, there was a great difference in the relative contribution of the glutes during the partial (16.9%), parallel (28.0%) and full-depth (35.4%) squats.

Partial squats mean only going to a 45-degree knee flexion. Parallel squatting is where the squatter descends to where the thighs are parallel with the floor. Full-depth squats means rock bottom – full knee flexion. Not every bodybuilder has the skill or flexibility to perform full squats without a high risk of injury. However, almost everyone can work ******* their technique to be able to do parallel squats in correct form. Whether you’re male or female, if you want to obtain the most from this tremendous exercise, work ******* your technique and be sure to go to at least parallel depth.

Ref: The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 16: 3 428–432, 2002.
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Re: Squat Research

Postby Canuck Singh » Fri May 29, 2009 3:29 am

The difference in the position of the bar in the squat exercise creates slight alterations in our biomechanical leverages.
These cause a big shift of emphasis of muscle activation of the prime movers. When the bar is held low across the back (rear delts and trapezius muscles), the lifter is forced to incline the torso forward during the descent phase. This forward lean occurs so the lifter maintains their center of mass (balance) through the exercise.

Because muscle contractions surrounding a joint cause movement, in biomechanics muscular force is termed muscle “torque” about a joint.

A more forward inclination of the torso during the descent brings the weight horizontally closer to the knees. This reduces the resistive torque (muscle force) of the quadriceps about the knee joint. At the same time the weight is horizontally further from the hip joint. This increases the resistive torque about the muscles of the hips –the lower back and the glutes. This means the hip and lower back muscles must work much harder (produce a greater amount of torque) to complete the exercise.

Placing the bar high on the upper back allows the lifter to maintain a more upright position during the descent phase, reversing the above scenario. The weight is now further away from the knee joint, increasing the amount of resistive torque required by the quads and, because the bar is closer to the hip joint, the muscular torque required by the glutes and lower back muscles is reduced.

The bottom line is that a low bar placement in the squat exercise forces the lifter to lean further forward and shifts the emphasis to hip muscles, making them work much harder during the lift than if the bar is placed high on the back (such as in a traditional bodybuilder’s squat). Depending on your goals, this may or may not be a good thing.

If you are purely concerned with moving as much weight as possible in the squat exercise, the low bar placement is the position of choice. However, if you are concerned with placing as much stress as possible on the quadriceps during the lift (to stimulate muscle growth), then the high bar placement is biomechanically a better choice.
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