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An Electromyographical Comparison of the Squat and Knee Extension Exercises.

Signorile, Joseph F.; Weber, Brad; Roll, Brad; Caruso, John F.; Lowensteyn, Ilka; Perry, Arlette C.
Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: August 1994
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The seated knee extension is commonly used with the parallel squat to promote balance between the vastus medialis (VM) and vastus lateralis (VL). No controlled studies have examined the relative contributions of each muscle during these exercises, so this study employed EMG analysis to determine their contributions. Ten experienced lifters performed squats and knee extensions at their 10-RM. Sets were separated by 15 min rest and the order of performance was reversed between sessions, which were 1 week apart. EMG was collected on the VL and VM of the dominant leg during the first and last repetition of each exercise. Since EMG activity differed significantly between the two testing days, each was analyzed separately. No significant differences were found between the root mean square of the amplitude of the EMG for the VL and VM during either exercise. The parallel squat elicited more electrical activity than the knee extension in both muscles, and the downward shift in frequency of the EMG signal was greater for both the VM and VL during the parallel squat. The results question the value of the knee extension as a supplemental exercise in this case.

(C) 1994 National Strength and Conditioning Association