A systematic review on the muscular activation on the lower limbs with five different variations of the squat exercise



Electromyographic activity, Resistance exercise, Quadriceps, Gluteus, Hamstrings, Calves


The squat is one of the most commonly used resistance exercises for performance and health due to its biomechanical and neuromuscular similarities to a wide range of athletic and everyday activities. There is a large number of squat variations (based on the descent depth, width of the stance, bar placement) with significant biomechanical and neuromuscular differences between them. The aim of this study was to systematically review the scientific literature to gather data on the muscular activation of the lower limb during different variants of the squat exercise. High-bar squat (full range of motion, to parallel and partial range of motion), low-bar squat, front squat, overhead squat and guided squat on Smith machine were included in the analysis. 30 articles met the inclusion criteria and were reviewed. Quality of the included studies was analysed with the PEDro scale. Main findings were that in the squat exercise activation of the knee-extensors is predominant. However, different activation patterns were observed with different distances between the feet, different depths, hips rotation or flexion, intensities. For instance, low-bar squat involves a greater hip hinge and thus, provokes major activation on the hip-extensors than other squat variations. It is worth highlighting that similar activation patterns were observed between the front squat and the high-bar squat. The variation with least activation was the guided squat. The evidence presented in this study may help the strength and conditioning professionals and practitioners with the exercise selection depending on the muscular targets and the individual characteristics of the athlete.


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How to Cite

Gene-Morales, J., Flandez, J., Juesas, A., Gargallo, P., Miñana, I., & Colado, J. C. (2020). A systematic review on the muscular activation on the lower limbs with five different variations of the squat exercise. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 15(4proc), S1277-S1299. Retrieved from https://www.jhse.ua.es/article/view/2020-v15-n4-proc-review-muscular-activation-lower-limbs-squat-ex

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