Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

Muscle Recruitment Between Full and Partial Back Squat

June 14, 2017


The squat remains one the best overall exercises for strength development in both healthy and injured patients.  Squatting strength has been correlated with both functional and athletic performance.  Our previous blog posts documented the safety concerns of squatting through a partial or full range of motion.  In short, in a healthy knee there is no danger in completing a full compared to a partial squat.  Some individuals shy away from squatting due to an inability to squat through the full range of motion.  A recent article examined the differences in muscle activation between a partial and full squat.  

da Silva and colleagues examined the muscle recruitment of 15 trained men as they performed a back squat at either a partial or full range of motion (J Strength and Cond Res. 2017).  The authors used surface electrodes over the lower quarter muscle groups to determine their contributions to the lifting movements.  The authors reported higher muscle recruitment for the gluteus maximus, hamstring, and calf during the partial vs. full squat.  The higher muscle of the partial squat shows its’ value as both a strengthening and rehabilitation exercise.