Squat info - Article

Nothing particularly new, but interesting

Squatters right to leg power
Scientists in the Departments of Anatomy and Kinesiology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden have recently determined exactly what happens to the legs during squatting sessions. Eight burly young national class Olympic weightlifters took part in the research. Average body weight was 180 pounds, mean age was 19, and typical one repetition maximum (1RM) during squatting exercise was about 230 pounds.

Each squatting exertion was a "high bar" squat, with the weight bar centered across the shoulders just below the seventh cervical vertebra (the first knob one feels when passing the hand down the back surface of the neck). For every squat, the actual weight used was 65% of an athlete's one repetition maximum.

The subjects tried four different knee flexion angles while squatting:

knees flexed to just 45 degrees
knees flexed to 90 degrees

knees flexed more amply so that the back surfaces of the thighs were actually parallel to the floor

Knees flexed fully (the deepest possible squat).
The first two squats, 45 and 90 degrees, are actually just partial squats with athletes remaining in a semi standing position and the buttocks only slightly lowered toward the floor.

Video taping and electromyography were used to determine joint forces and muscle activity. As it turned out, the 45 and 90 degree squats did a poor job of activating the quads and hamstrings, compared to the parallel and deep squats. However, the former two squats also produced fairly low forces at the knee and hip joints, so the 45 and 90-degree squats are probably excellent exercises for athletes who are attempting carefully to recover from leg injuries.

Surprisingly, there was no difference in muscular activity between the parallel and deep squats, even though coaches tend to recommend the latter. The total times required to perform parallel and deep squats were also similar, so neither exercise provides more total work for the leg muscles per training session.

Although the parallel and deep squats produce equivalent amounts of muscle activation, the parallel exercise is better for athletes who have suffered from knee problems, since it produces less strain on the knees. Athletes with hip problems should probably rely on 90 degree squats, since both parallel and deep squats upgrade hip loading forces significantly.

Cool post. Thanks!