Muscle activity in the back squat versus hip thrust exercise
The hip musculature is considered to be paramount for sport performance and injury prevention, since it has an integral role in multiplanar motion and lower extremity stabilization. Extensive research has investigated the back squat as a staple exercise in strength and condition programs aimed at enhancing gluteal and lower extremity performance.
Despite this, additional literature has shown that, even though the back squat has a positive effect in increasing strength and size of gluteal musculature, there is poor translation to functional performance.
Considering this, the authors of the present study looked to compare the activation of the hip thrust exercise with the back squat as a possible alternative to lower extremity strengthening. Overall, it was shown that the barbell hip thrust exercise had greater activation in the biceps femoris as well as upper and lower glutes when compared to the back squat.
Thirteen women performed estimated 10-repetitions in the back squat and barbell hip thrust. Surface electromyography was used to measure muscle output and placement was standardized on the upper and lower gluteus maximus, biceps femoris and vastus lateralis.
Within the fitness and rehabilitation community, squats are often considered the goal standard with regards to rehabilitation and injury prevention. As therapists, we are often presented with limitations in our patients and athletes that restrict their ability to effectively perform a back squat.
As a result of that, exercises such as the hip thrust exercise can be a viable alternative. The present study demonstrated that both mean and peak upper and lower gluteus maximus activity, as well as biceps femoris activity were greater during the hip thrust exercise. Vastus lateralis EMG was showed no differences between the two.
The present study clearly shows that we can incorporate hip thrust exercises into our programming as an effective tool to engage lower extremity muscles. However, further studies are needed to determine if there is a positive translation to sports, functional tasks and muscle hypertrophy.
> From: Contreras et al., J Appl Biomech (2016) 8(Epub ahead of print). All rights reserved to Human Kinetics Inc. Click here for the Pubmed summary.