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Barbell back squat: how do resistance bands affect muscle activation and knee kinematics?
  1. Madeleine B Reece1,
  2. Graham P Arnold1,
  3. Sadiq Nasir1,
  4. Weijie W Wang1,
  5. Rami Abboud2
  1. 1nstitute of Motion Analysis & Research (IMAR), University of Dundee, Dundee, UK
  2. 2Dean’s Office, University of Balamand Faculty of Engineering, El-Koura, Lebanon
  1. Correspondence to Dr Graham P Arnold; g.p.arnold{at}; Professor Rami Abboud; rjabboud{at}


Objectives This study aimed to determine whether looped resistance bands affect knee kinematics and lower body muscle activation during the barbell back squat.

Methods Twenty-six healthy participants (13 female, 13 male) calculated their one repetition maximum (RM) prior to data collection. Each participant performed three squats at both 80% and 40% 1RM wearing a light resistance band, an extra-heavy resistance band and no resistance band.

Vicon 3D motion analysis cameras were used to collect the kinematic data, and Delsys Trigno Lab wireless electromyography (EMG) system was used to measure vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and biceps femoris muscle activity. Peak knee flexion angle, peak knee valgus angle and maximum tibial rotation values were examined. Peak EMG values were also analysed after being normalised and expressed as a percentage of maximum voluntary contraction (MVC).

Results Gluteus maximus (GM) activity is significantly increased when a resistance band is used during squatting. However, squatting with a resistance band is detrimental to knee kinematics as it leads to an increase in knee valgus angle and maximum tibial rotation angle. A direct correlation is recorded between an increase in resistance and an increase in these two angles.

Conclusions Squatting with resistance bands is likely to increase the risk of knee injury. Coaches and clinicians who already implement this technique are advised to remove resistance band squats from training and rehabilitation programmes. Further research evaluating the long-term effects of using resistance bands during the barbell back squat should be considered.

  • biomechanics
  • knee injuries
  • exercise
  • physical activity
  • weight lifting

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • Contributors All coauthors are in agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work presented in this manuscript. MBR: planning the study, conducting the study, analysing the data, reporting the study, generating the draft write-up and responsible for the overall content as guarantor. GPA: data collection for study and Vicon markers repeatability. SN: data collection for study and Vicon software reliability. WWW: statistical analysis of data. RA: reporting the study, revising the original and revision manuscript critically for intellectual content, submitting the study and responsible for overall content as guarantor.

  • Funding The study was funded internally by the department.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The study was approved by the Medical School Research Ethics Committee – ID SMED REC 098/18.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement No data are available. Data remains confidential until we publish all relevant information.

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