Effect of external load on muscle activation during the barbell back squat.Eur J Sport Sci. 2023 Jun; 23(6):975-982.EJ
The aim of this study was to compare gluteus maximus-to-hamstring (GM:H) co-activation, hamstrings-to-quadriceps (H:Q) co-activation, and mean muscle activity in the vastus lateralis (VL), vastus medialis (VM), rectus femoris (RM), gluteus maximus (GM), semitendinosus (ST), and bicep femoris (BF) muscles across a range of training loads (40%, 50%, 50%, 70%, 80% 90% 1RM) of the barbell back squat in resistance trained females. Surface electromyography (EMG) was observed in 18 healthy resistance trained females for the VL, VM, RM, GM, ST, and BF during the ascending and descending phase of the back squat. During the ascending phase, the VL, VM, RM, GM, ST, and BF displayed significantly more EMG activation at 90% 1RM compared to 40%-70% (p < .03). During the descending phase, there were no significant differences displayed in mean muscle activity at 40%-80% of 1RM compared to 90% of 1RM. There were no significant differences in H-Q co-activation and GM-H co-activation during the ascending or descending phase across external loads. These findings are similar to the results found in similar studies using male participants and support that higher training intensities (80%-90% 1RM) of the barbell back squat significantly activate muscles surrounding the hip compared to lower loads (40%-70%). The results of this study also suggest that training intensities of 80% 1RM and 90% 1RM elicits the similar musculature activation in the muscle surrounding the hip in resistance trained females.HighlightsDuring the back squat, mean muscle activity of the hip and leg muscles increased linearly with exercise intensity (40%-90% of one-repetition max) in resistance trained females.No significant difference in mean activity were noted between 80% and 90% of one-repetition max during the ascending and descending phases.During the ascending phase, 80% of one-repetition max generated the highest gluteus maximus to hamstring activity co-activation ratio.During the descending phase, 40% of one-repetition max produced a gluteus maximus to hamstring activity co-activation ratio closest to 1.0.