Net joint moments and muscle activation in barbell squats without and with restricted anterior leg rotation

J Sports Sci. 2017 Jan;35(1):35-43. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2016.1154978. Epub 2016 Mar 1.


Muscle utilisation in squat exercise depends on technique. The purpose of this study was to compare net joint moments (NJMs) and muscle activation during squats without and with restricted leg dorsiflexion. Experienced men (n = 5) and women (n = 4) performed full squats at 80% one repetition maximum. 3D motion analysis, force platform and (EMG) data were collected. Restricting anterior leg rotation reduced anterior leg (P = 0.001) and posterior thigh (P < 0.001) rotations, resulting in a smaller knee flexion range of motion (P < 0.001). At maximum squat depth, ankle plantar flexor (P < 0.001) and knee extensor (P < 0.001) NJM were higher in unrestricted squats. Hip extensor NJM (P = 0.14) was not different between squat types at maximum squat depth. Vastus lateralis (P > 0.05), vastus medialis (P > 0.05) and rectus femoris (P > 0.05) EMG were not different between squat types. Unrestricted squats have higher ankle plantar flexor and knee extensor NJM than previously reported from jumping and landing. However, ankle plantar flexor and knee extensor NJM are lower in restricted squats than previous studies of jumping and landing. The high NJM in unrestricted squat exercise performed through a full range of motion suggests this squat type would be more effective to stimulate adaptations in the lower extremity musculature than restricted squats.

Keywords: Quadriceps; hamstrings; knee; resistance exercise.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ankle Joint
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Hip Joint
  • Humans
  • Joints*
  • Knee Joint
  • Lower Extremity*
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal*
  • Quadriceps Muscle
  • Range of Motion, Articular*
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Rotation
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Young Adult