Kinematic and EMG activities during front and back squat variations in maximum loads

J Sports Sci. 2015;33(10):1058-66. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2014.984240. Epub 2015 Jan 29.


The aim of this study was to compare the musculature activity and kinematics of knee and hip joints during front and back squat with maximal loading. Two-dimensional kinematical data were collected and electromyographic activities of vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, rectus femoris, semitendinosus, biceps femoris, gluteus maximus and erector spinae were measured while participants (n = 12, 21.2 ± 1.9 years old) were completing front and back squat exercises with maximum loading. Paired sample t-test was used for comparisons between two techniques. Results showed that the electromyographic activity of vastus medialis was found to be greater in the front squat compared to the back squat during the ascending phase (P < 0.05, d = 0.62; 95% CI, -15.0/-4.17) and the whole manoeuvre (P < 0.05, d = 0.41; 95% CI, -12.8/-0.43), while semitendinosus (P < 0.05, d = -0.79; 95% CI, 0.62/20.59) electromyographic activity was greater in the back squat during the ascending phase. Compared to the front squat version, back squat exhibited significantly greater trunk lean, with no differences occurring in the knee joint kinematics throughout the movement. Results may suggest that the front squat may be preferred to the back squat for knee extensor development and for preventing possible lumbar injuries during maximum loading.

Keywords: biomechanics; electromyography; maximal loading; strength training; two-dimensional.

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Electromyography
  • Hip Joint / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction
  • Knee Joint / physiology*
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Weight Lifting
  • Weight-Bearing
  • Young Adult