Bilateral differences in the net joint torques during the squat exercise

J Strength Cond Res. 2007 Nov;21(4):1220-6. doi: 10.1519/R-21156.1.


Bilateral movements are common in human movement, both as exercises and as daily activities. Because the movement patterns are similar, it is often assumed that there are no bilateral differences (BDs; differences between the left and right sides) in the joint torques that are producing these movements. The aim of this investigation was to test the assumption that the joint torques are equal between the left and right lower extremities by quantifying BDs during the barbell squat. Eighteen recreationally trained men (n = 9) and women (n = 9) completed 3 sets of 3 repetitions of the squat exercise, under 4 loading conditions: 25, 50, 75, and 100% of their 3 repetition maximum, while instrumented for biomechanical analysis. The average net joint moment (ANJM) and maximum flexion angle (MFA) for the hip, knee, and ankle as well as the average vertical ground reaction force (AVGRF) and the average distance from the ankle joint center to the center of pressure (ADCOP) were calculated. Group mean and individual data were analyzed (alpha = 0.05). At each joint, there was a significant main effect for side and load, no main effect for gender, with few significant interactions. The hip ANJM was 12.4% larger on the left side, the knee ANJM was 13.2% larger on the right side, and the ankle ANJM was 16.8% larger on the left side. Differences in MFAs between sides were less than 2 degrees for all 3 joints (all p > 0.20 except for the knee at 75% [p = 0.024] and 100% [p = 0.025]), but the AVGRF and the ADCOP were 6% and 11% larger on the left side. Few subjects exhibited the pattern identified with the group mean data, and no subject exhibited nonsignificant BDs for all 3 joints. These findings suggest that joint torques should not be assumed to be equal during the squat and that few individual subjects follow the pattern exhibited by group mean data.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ankle / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Hip / physiology
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Knee / physiology
  • Lower Extremity / physiology*
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sex Factors
  • Torque
  • Weight Lifting / physiology*
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology