Load-Dependent Mechanical Demands of the Lower Extremity During the Back and Front Squat

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Taylor & Francis

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Journal of Sports Sciences

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The purpose of this study was to examine load-dependent differences in lower-extremity biomechanics between the back squat (BS) and front squat (FS) exercises. Eleven NCAA Division-I athletes performed three repetitions of the BS and FS at loads of 40%, 60%, and 80% of their FS one repetition maximum (FS-1RM). Kinematic and kinetic data were collected during each squat repetition and used to calculate lower extremity peak joint angles and peak net joint moments (NJM). Peak angles and NJM were compared with a 2 × 3 repeated measures ANOVA. Peak hip extensor NJM were greater during the BS at 60% and 80% of FS-1RM. In comparison, peak knee extensor NJM were greater during the FS at 80% of FS-1RM. However, regression-based prediction of NJM at 100% of FS and BS 1RM indicated that at maximal loads, peak knee NJM are (~3%) higher during the BS. The experimental results suggest that when performed at the same absolute load, the BS and FS are characterized by greater respective mechanical demands imposed on the hip and knee extensors muscles groups. However, prediction-based results suggest that the knee extensor NJM demands are comparable when performed at the same relative load (i.e., with respect to each exercise’s RM).


Journal of Sports Sciences, Vol. 38, No. 17 (June 2020): 2005-2012. DOI.