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J Strength Cond Res. 2018 Oct 22. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002912. [Epub ahead of print]

Effects of the Safety Squat Bar on Trunk and Lower-Body Mechanics During a Back Squat.

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Department of Exercise and Sport Performance, University of New England, Biddeford, Maine.
Department of Physical Therapy, University of New England, Portland, Maine.
Center for Excellence in the Neurosciences, University of New England, Biddeford, Maine.


Hecker, KA, Carlson, LA, and Lawrence, MA. Effects of the safety squat bar on trunk and lower-body mechanics during a back squat. J Strength Cond Res XX(X): 000-000, 2018-The purpose of this study was to determine whether the safety squat bar (SSB) alters the mechanics and muscle activity of a back squat compared with a standard barbell (ST). Motion and muscle activation of the trunk and lower extremity were measured while 12 competitive powerlifters (8 males, 4 females, age 31.5 ± 6.3 years, body mass 88.1 ± 20.7 kg, competitive lifting experience 3.3 ± 2.8 years) squatted 3 sets of 5 repetitions at 75% of their 3 repetition maximum (3RM). Mean muscle activity and peak joint flexion angles were measured for the trunk and one lower extremity. A repeated-measures analysis of variance (p = 0.05) revealed an 11.3% decrease in 3RM when using the SSB. When using the SSB, there was a decrease in trunk and hip flexion (7.3 and 5.7° respectively) and a 50.3% increase in lower trapezius activation. However, using the SSB decreased activation of the rectus abdominis (46.3%), medial hamstring (17.1%), lateral hamstring (15.1%), vastus lateralis (9.3%), and medial gastrocnemius (18.8%). Squatting with the SSB resulted in a more upright trunk angle, which places less stress on the lower back, a commonly injured area when squatting. Decreases in lower-extremity muscle activation are likely due to the decreased load used, suggesting that the SSB may not be as effective as a standard bar to increase lower-extremity strength. However, the increase in the lower trapezius with the lighter load suggests that midback musculature may be challenged more by the SSB than a standard barbell.

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