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Squashing the misconceptions about SQUATS (part 1)

I noticed an interesting buzz when I began searching for the best-evidence-based approach and technique to squatting. Interestingly enough, the adverse effect of full squats has become one of the greatest impacts on the sport of weightlifting and CrossFit. Although, The Knee in Sports by Karl K. Klein and Fred L. Allman Jr was written in 1961, significant amounts of studies have conjured from his work. Today we have a plethora, literally a massive amount, of misinformation serving the wellness and fitness communities. Just like smoking was considered harmless, we inhaled the lusty silky smoke on airplanes and hospitals. Unfortunately, special interest markets have always tried to rule out evidence-based practice to gain nobility. Former National Champion Olympic weightlifter, national and world team coach and editor of the legendary strength publication Strength and Health, wrote, "modern squats do not even resemble what is being called a squat in gyms today."

I believe that movements, especially those involving high-intensity such as squatting, a major component of Crossfit, should be analyzed on an individual pathological limitation. The success in squat is through Functional Performance Analysis (FPA) and Corrective Movement (CM). Having said that, I believe it is utterly important to understand the misconceptions of a squat, its technique variations and the physical effects it has on the body.

Check out the peer-reviewed Journal Article, “Electromyographic analysis of the squat performed in self-selected lower extremity neutral rotation and 30 degrees of lower extremity turn-out from the self-selected neutral position.”, on the RESEACH AND NEWS page. It examines one of those misconceptions. I know many trainers that give their clients inaccurate information on the benefits of lower extremity rotation during a squat.

The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of lower extremity position during an Olympic squat on the muscle activity patterns of the vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, semimembranosus/semitendinosus, and biceps femoris. Twenty-five healthy, untrained subjects, 18-35 years old, were randomly assigned initial squatting positions of either self-selected neutral or 30 degrees of lower extremity turn-out from the self-selected neutral position. Surface electromyography and motion analysis data were collected simultaneously in 10 degrees intervals and analyzed from 10-60 degrees of knee flexion in both the ascending and descending phases of the squat. A four-way analysis of variance indicated that the main effect of lower extremity position and the interaction of extremity position and knee joint angles were not found to cause significant changes in muscle activity patterns. Significant changes in muscle activity did occur with changes in knee flexion angles in the vastus medialis and vastus lateralis but not in the semimembranosus/semitendinosus or biceps femoris.


1) Ninos JC1, Irrgang JJ, Burdett R, Weiss JR. Electromyographic analysis of the squat performed in self-selected lower extremity neutral rotation and 30 de- grees of lower extremity turn-out from the self-selected neutral position. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1997 May;25(5):307-15.

2) The Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy published the article on May 1997 by Ninos JC, Irrgang JJ, Burdett R, Weiss JR. 25(5):307-15.

3) Laboratório de Estudos Clínicos em Fisioterapia, Universidade de Ri- beirão Preto, Ribeirão Preto. Received in 21/6/05. Final version received in 7/12/05. Approved in 17/7/06.

Internet source and URL:

The article can be found on the Internet at Pub-Med is the trusted peer-reviewed database of sciences journal articles, indexed citations, and abstracts to health care. The exact web location and URL is:

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