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J Strength Cond Res. 2018 Feb 27. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002535. [Epub ahead of print]

Biomechanical, anthropometric, and psychological determinants of barbell back squat strength.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.
School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, ON, Canada.
Exercise & Sport Sciences Department, Harding University, Searcy, AR.
Strength and Conditioning Research Limited, London, UK.
School of Sport and Recreation, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.
Rocky Mountain University, Provo, UT.
Health Sciences Department, Lehman College, Bronx, NY.


Previous investigations of strength have only focused on biomechanical or psychological determinants, while ignoring the potential interplay and relative contributions of these variables. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relative contributions of biomechanical, anthropometric, and psychological variables to the prediction of maximum parallel barbell back squat strength. Twenty-one college-aged participants (male = 14; female = 7; age = 23 ± 3 years) reported to the laboratory for two visits. The first visit consisted of anthropometric, psychometric, and parallel barbell back squat one-repetition maximum (1RM) testing. On the second visit, participants performed isometric dynamometry testing for the knee, hip, and spinal extensors in a sticking point position-specific manner. Multiple linear regression and correlations were used to investigate the combined and individual relationships between biomechanical, anthropometric, and psychological variables and squat 1RM. Multiple regression revealed only one statistically predictive determinant: fat free mass normalized to height (standardized estimate ± SE = 0.6 ± 0.3; t(16) = 2.28; p = 0.037). Correlation coefficients for individual variables and squat 1RM ranged from r = -0.79-0.83, with biomechanical, anthropometric, experiential, and sex predictors showing the strongest relationships, and psychological variables displaying the weakest relationships. These data suggest that back squat strength in a heterogeneous population is multifactorial and more related to physical rather than psychological variables.

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