Kinematic and sEMG Analysis of the Back Squat at Different Intensities With and Without Knee Wraps

J Strength Cond Res. 2015 Sep;29(9):2482-7. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000922.


The purposes of this study were to measure the acute effects of knee wraps (KWs) on knee and hip joint kinematics, dynamic muscle activation from the vastus lateralis (VL) and gluteus maximus (GM), and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) during the back squat exercise at 2 different intensities. Fourteen resistance-trained men (age: 24 ± 4 years, height: 176 ± 6 cm, body mass: 81 ± 11 kg, back squat 1 repetition maximum [1RM]: 107 ± 30 kg, 3 ± 1 year of back squat experience) performed 1 set of 3 repetitions under 4 different conditions, to a depth of approximately 90 degrees of knee joint flexion, and in random order: KWs at 60% 1RM (KW60), KWs at 90% 1RM (KW90), without knee wraps (NWs) at 60% 1RM (NW60), and NWs at 90% 1RM (NW90). The dependent variables obtained were vertical and horizontal bar displacement, peak joint angle in the sagittal plane (hip and knee joints), concentric and eccentric muscle activation (by integrated electromyography) from the VL and GM, and RPE. For muscle activity, there were significant decreases in the VL NWs at 60% 1RM (p = 0.013) and a significant increase NWs at 90% 1RM (p = 0.037). There was a significant increase in VL muscle activity at 90% 1RM, when compared with 60% 1RM (KW: p = 0.001, effect size (ES) = 1.51 and NW: p < 00.001, ES = 1.67). There was a decrease in GM muscle activity NWs only at 60% 1RM (p = 0.014). There was a significant increase in GM muscle activity at 90% 1RM, when compared with 60% 1RM (KW: p < 0.001 and NW: p < 0.001). For peak hip joint flexion angle, there was significant decreases between intensities (90% 1RM < 60% 1RM) only to NWs condition (p = 0.009), and there was greater knee flexion NWs for both intensities: 60% 1RM (p < 0.001) and 90% 1RM (p = 0.018). For normalized vertical barbell displacement, there were significant differences between intensities when using KWs (p = 0.022). There were significant differences in RPE between 60 and 90% 1RM for each condition: KWs (p < 0.001) and NWs (p < 0.001). In conclusion, the use of KWs results in decreased muscle activation of the VL at the same intensity (90% 1RM).

Publication types

  • Clinical Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Compression Bandages*
  • Electromyography
  • Hip Joint / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiology*
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Quadriceps Muscle / physiology
  • Random Allocation
  • Resistance Training*
  • Young Adult