Quantifying the movement and the influence of load in the back squat exercise

J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Jun;24(6):1671-9. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181d8eb4e.


The squat is used extensively in strength and conditioning, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and fitness programs. However, the movement pattern of the hip and knee is still relatively unknown, in particular, the timing of when maximum angles is reached. The purpose of this study was to quantify the hip and knee movements of the squat and establish if load alters these movements. Twenty-eight subjects (16 men and 12 women) performed 2 sets of 8 squats. Load was applied in random order as no additional weight (body weight [BW]) or an additional load of 50% of the subject's weight (BW+50%). Joint angles and time for hip and knee, as well as forward knee, displacement in the descent and ascent phases were measured with significance at p<0.05. Regardless of gender, phase, and load, all subjects achieved their maximum hip and knee angles within 2% of the deepest position. Load significantly increased the flexion angle at the hip and knee joints in men. The knees movement forward of the toes ranged from 63.8 to 64.7 mm in men and 93.2 to 96.6 mm in women. A significant difference in the timing of when the maximum forward knee movement occurred was observed because of gender. The overriding factor for the practical prescription of squat technique was regardless of load, gender, or phase; the maximum angles of the hip and knee are reached almost simultaneously at the bottom of the squat. Furthermore, for all subjects, the knee moved forward of the toes when squatting with men reaching their maximum forward knee position around 84% of the descent phase, whereas this occurred for women around 93%.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena / physiology
  • Female
  • Hip Joint / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiology*
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Posture*
  • Weight Lifting / physiology*
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology
  • Young Adult