Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

Comparing Muscle Forces During Lower Quarter Strength Training Exercises

August 30, 2017


Strength training is an essential part of an individual’s weekly exercise program.  It’s numerous benefits include reduced injury risk, increased sports performance, and improved function in life activities.  Time is finite resource and a commonly cited barrier to exercise.  In our Boulder Physical Therapy practice we strive to prescribe the most effective and efficient exercises for each client to maximize time spent exercising.  A recent research article adds insight into which lower body exercises are most effective at recruiting muscles in the core and legs. 

Schellenberg and colleagues studied the muscular responses of 11 healthy participants as they performed a deadlift, good morning, and split squat exercise (BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2017).  The authors found the split squat was most effective at targeting the gluteus maximus muscle in the front leg, but the deadlifts were found to effective at recruiting this muscle over a larger range of motion at both the knee and the hip.  As expected, good mornings recruited the posterior chain muscles including the hamstring more statically than the dynamic deadlift exercise.  Surprisingly, the quadriceps were recruited best in the back leg during the split squat, but the highest quadricep load was found in the deadlift.  Overall, this study highlights the differences between lower body exercises and reinforces the effectiveness of the deadlift for overall lower body muscle recruitment over a large range of motion.

To learn more about maximizing your strength training program contact your local Physical Therapist.