The purpose of this study was to compare the biomechanics of the traditional squat with 2 popular exercise variations commonly referred to as the powerlifting squat and box squat. Twelve male powerlifters performed the exercises with 30, 50, and 70% of their measured 1 repetition maximum (1RM), with instruction to lift the loads as fast as possible. Inverse dynamics and spatial tracking of the external resistance were used to quantify biomechanical variables. A range of significant kinematic and kinetic differences (p < 0.05) emerged between the exercises. The traditional squat was performed with a narrow stance, whereas the powerlifting squat and box squat were performed with similar wide stances (48.3 ± 3.8, 89.6 ± 4.9, 92.1 ± 5.1 cm, respectively). During the eccentric phase of the traditional squat, the knee traveled past the toes resulting in anterior displacement of the system center of mass (COM). In contrast, during the powerlifting squat and box squat, a more vertical shin position was maintained, resulting in posterior displacements of the system COM. These differences in linear displacements had a significant effect (p < 0.05) on a number of peak joint moments, with the greatest effects measured at the spine and ankle. For both joints, the largest peak moment was produced during the traditional squat, followed by the powerlifting squat, then box squat. Significant differences (p < 0.05) were also noted at the hip joint where the largest moment in all 3 planes were produced during the powerlifting squat. Coaches and athletes should be aware of the biomechanical differences between the squatting variations and select according to the kinematic and kinetic profile that best match the training goals.
- Submaximum loads