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Muscle Activation Differs Between Partial and Full Back Squat Exercise With External Load Equated

da Silva, Josinaldo J.1; Schoenfeld, Brad J.2; Marchetti, Priscyla N.3; Pecoraro, Silvio L.1; Greve, Julia M.D.3; Marchetti, Paulo H.1,3

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: June 2017 - Volume 31 - Issue 6 - p 1688–1693
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001713
Original Research

da Silva, JJ, Schoenfeld, BJ, Marchetti, PN, Pecoraro, SL, Greve, JMD, and Marchetti, PH. Muscle activation differs between partial and full back squat exercise with external load equated. J Strength Cond Res 31(6): 1688–1693, 2017—Changes in range of motion affect the magnitude of the load during the squat exercise and, consequently, may influence muscle activation. The purpose of this study was to evaluate muscle activation between the partial and full back squat exercise with external load equated on a relative basis between conditions. Fifteen young, healthy, resistance-trained men (age: 26 ± 5 years, height: 173 ± 6 cm) performed a back squat at their 10 repetition maximum (10RM) using 2 different ranges of motion (partial and full) in a randomized, counterbalanced fashion. Surface electromyography was used to measure muscle activation of the vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, rectus femoris, biceps femoris (BF), semitendinosus, erector spinae, soleus (SL), and gluteus maximus (GM). In general, muscle activity was highest during the partial back squat for GM (p = 0.004), BF (p = 0.009), and SL (p = 0.031) when compared with full-back squat. There was no significant difference for rating of perceived exertion between partial and full back squat exercise at 10RM (8 ± 1 and 9 ± 1, respectively). In conclusion, the range of motion in the back squat alters muscle activation of the prime mover (GM) and stabilizers (SL and BF) when performed with the load equated on a relative basis. Thus, the partial back squat maximizes the level of muscle activation of the GM and associated stabilizer muscles.

1Department of Human Movement Sciences, Graduate Program in Science of Human Movement, College of Health Science (FACIS), Methodist University of Piracicaba, Piracicaba, São Paulo, Brazil;

2Department of Health Sciences, Program of Exercise Science, CUNY Lehman College, Bronx, New York; and

3Laboratory of Kinesiology, Institute of Orthopedics and Traumatology, School of Medicine, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

Address correspondence to Dr. Paulo H. Marchetti,

Copyright © 2017 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.