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Electromyographic Comparison of Squats Using Constant or Variable Resistance

Andersen, Vidar1; Steiro Fimland, Marius2,3; Knutson Kolnes, Maria1; Jensen, Susanne1; Laume, Martine1; Hole Saeterbakken, Atle1

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: December 2016 - Volume 30 - Issue 12 - p 3456–3463
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001451
Original Research

Andersen, V, Fimland, MS, Kolnes, MK, Jensen, S, Laume, M and Saeterbakken, AH. Electromyographic comparison of squats using constant or variable resistance. J Strength Cond Res 30(12): 3456–3463, 2016—The aim of the study was to compare the electromyographic (EMG) activity of vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, rectus femoris, and biceps femoris when performing the squat with constant resistance or variable resistance with 2 or 4 elastic bands, respectively, contributing with a mean of 39 and 73% of the total loads. Nineteen resistance-trained women performed 6 repetition maximum using 3 different experimental conditions: free weights (FW), free weights + 2 elastic bands (FW + 2EB), and free weights + 4 elastic bands (FW + 4EB). During analyses, each repetition was divided into 6 phases: upper (more extended knee), middle, and lower phase of the descending and ascending movements. Increased activation in the upper parts of the movement was observed for both variable resistance conditions compared with constant resistance (9–51%, p < 0.001–0.050). Further, a dose-response effect of variable resistance was observed in the upper ascending movement, with 4 elastic bands increasing muscle activation more than 2 elastic bands (7–28%, p = 0.003–0.007). For the whole movement, a 12% higher activation of the biceps femoris was observed for FW + 4EB compared with FW (p = 0.005). There were no differences between the other conditions in any of the muscles (p = 0.077–1.000). In conclusion, performing the squat using free weights in combination with elastic bands seems to be preferable compared with free weights alone and more so with a high contribution from variable resistance to the total load.

1Faculty of Tacher Education and Sport, Sogn and Fjordane University College, Sogndal, Norway;

2Department of Public Health and General Practice, Faculty of Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway; and

3Hysnes Rehabilitation Center, St. Olavs University Hospital, Trondheim, Norway

Address correspondence to Vidar Andersen,

Copyright © 2016 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.