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J Strength Cond Res. 2014 Nov;28(11):3056-62. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000516.

Effects of replacing free weights with elastic band resistance in squats on trunk muscle activation.

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1Faculty of Teacher Education and Sport, Sogn og Fjordane University College, Norway; 2Department of Public Health and General Practice, Faculty of Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway; and 3Hysnes Rehabilitation Center, St. Olav's University Hospital, Trondheim, Norway.


The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of adding elastic bands to free-weight squats on the neuromuscular activation of core muscles. Twenty-five resistance trained women with 4.6 ± 2.1 years of resistance training experience participated in the study. In randomized order, the participants performed 6 repetition maximum in free-weight squats, with and without elastic bands (i.e., matched relative intensity between exercises). During free-weight squats with elastic bands, some of the free weights were replaced with 2 elastic bands attached to the lowest part of the squat rack. Surface electromyography (EMG) activity was measured from the erector spinae, external oblique, and rectus abdominis, whereas a linear encoder measured the vertical displacement. The EMG activities were compared between the 2 lifting modalities for the whole repetition and separately for the eccentric, concentric, and upper and lower eccentric and concentric phases. In the upper (greatest stretch of the elastic band), middle, and lower positions in squats with elastic bands, the resistance values were approximately 117, 105, and 93% of the free weight-only trial. Similar EMG activities were observed for the 2 lifting modalities for the erector spinae (p = 0.112-0.782), external oblique (p = 0.225-0.977), and rectus abdominis (p = 0.315-0.729) in all analyzed phases. In conclusion, there were no effects on the muscle activity of trunk muscles of substituting some resistance from free weights with elastic bands in the free-weight squat.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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