Barbell back squat: How do resistance bands affect muscle activation and knee kinematics?

Madeleine B. Reece, Graham P. Arnold (Lead / Corresponding author), Sadiq Nasir, Weijie W. Wang, Rami Abboud (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
63 Downloads (Pure)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere000610
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalBMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine
Issue number1
Early online date4 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2020


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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