Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

Which Squat Variation Is Best?

January 26, 2023

Squats are an integral part of lower body strength training and Physical Therapy from injury or surgery. At our Boulder Physical Therapy and Lafayette Physical Therapy clinics we also place emphasis on the importance of squats in helping reduce lower extremity injury. This exercise remains one of the foundations of exercise programs because of its’ ability to recruit the majority of the muscles in the core and lower body.

If you are integrating squats into your exercise routine the type of squat variation you choose may be based on your body’s specific demands and anatomy. In turn, this can have an impact as to what muscles you are using during the exercise. A recent study by Coratella et al. examined muscle activation of key muscle groups during different squat variations with competitive bodybuilders. For instance, front squats demonstrated the greatest muscle activation of the gluteus maximus and medius during the descending phase while also targeting one of the back extensor muscles, the iliocostalis, and a quadriceps muscle, the rectus femoris, more than any other variation (1). Comparatively, back squats and externally rotated sumo back squats showed the greatest amount of adductor muscle activation (1). At MEND we look at each patient’s unique strength and mobility demands and can help you identify which squat variation can help you achieve your goals.

Want to know more about squatting? Visit our blog and keep reading or check out our YouTube channel for more information about squatting

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1. Coratella G, Tornatore G, Caccavale F, Longo S, Esposito F, Cè E. The Activation of Gluteal, Thigh, and Lower Back Muscles in Different Squat Variations Performed by Competitive Bodybuilders: Implications for Resistance Training. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jan 18;18(2):772. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18020772. PMID: 33477561; PMCID: PMC7831128.