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Research in Review: Full or Partial Back Squat- Which Activates the Muscles More?

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the muscle activation

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See how muscle activation differs (or doesn’t) between the partial and full back squat.

Journal Article:

Da Silva, J.J., Schoenfeld, B.J., Marchetti, P.N., Pecoraro, S.L., Greve, J.M., &Marchetti, P.H. (2017). Muscle activation differs between partial and full back squat exercise with external load equated. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 31(6), 1688-1693.

Purpose of the Study:

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the muscle activation between partial and full back squat exercise when performed with the load equated on a relative basis.

The load made equal (equated) because there is an assumption that changes in the range of motion during the squat can affect the magnitude of the load. This is thought to affect muscle activation. In an attempt to regulate this effect, ratings of perceived exertion were also taken into consideration after each set.

Study Participants:

15 young, healthy, resistance trained men participated in the study. Subjects had no previous lower back pain, no surgery on lower extremities, and no history of injury with residual symptoms, such as pain, in the lower limbs within the last year.

Procedure or Methods:

Subjects attended 2 sessions in the laboratory separated by 1 week. During the first session, the participants were instructed on the proper squat technique. Condition 1 was the partial squat (0 to 90° of knee flexion). Condition 2 was the full squat (0 to 140° of knee flexion). All participants performed both conditions.

On the first visit to the lab, participants were to establish baseline data to be used on the second visit. The participants warmed-up for 5-minutes on a stationary cycle then performed 10 repetition maximum test of the squat at a self-selected cadence. If the 10 reps were not achieved, the participant was given a 5-minute break, and then the weight was adjusted by 4-10 kg. Participants were given standard instruction regarding exercise technique along with verbal feedback and encouragement. A 30-minute break was given, and then the procedures were repeated for the alternate condition.

On the second visit, participants returned to the lab for the actual recording of data. Again subjects warmed up with 5-minutes on a stationary bike. They then performed 1 set of 10 RM for condition 1 and condition 2 with a 30-minute rest between each condition.

Surface EMG data were collected on the gluteus maximus, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, rectus femoris, biceps femoris, semitendinosus, erector spinae, and the soleus. Signals collected during all conditions were normalized to maximum voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC).

Results:

The surface EMG activity was significantly greater in the partial compared to the full squat for the gluteus maximus, biceps femoris, erector spinae, and soleus. No significant differences were found in any other of the muscles studied.

Discussion:

The main finding of this study was that both the partial and full squat demonstrated a similar overall level of muscle activation of the rectus femoris, but a higher level of activation in the gluteus maximus, biceps femoris, and erector spinae was found in the partial squat.

The higher activation of the gluteus maximus is likely due to it being a single joint muscle positioned at the hip where there is a longer lever arm during the partial squat. The reduced activity in the full squat may be due to the gluteus maximus not being used as much at greater knee flexion angles. Also, at the greater depth, the gluteus maximus is not needed as much to stabilize the pelvis. In some cases, the gluteus maximus may have to relax to permit greater hip flexion angles to be achieved.

The higher activation of the biceps femoris in the partial squat may be explained by it acting as a joint stabilizer at the knee and a prime mover at the hip for extension.

The increase in rectus femoris activation in the full squat is due to the greater moment across the knee joint since it connects to the tibia via the patella tendon. Therefore, as knee flexion increases, activation of that muscle will also increase. The vastus medialis demonstrated the same activation in both conditions and the vastus lateralis activated only slightly more in the partial squat. However, the increased activation in the vastus lateralis was not significant.

The authors believe that the erector spinae activated more in the partial squat in an attempt to control forward trunk motion to control the center of pressure through the range of motion.

Take away for NASM-CPTs:

This study has several implications for the NASM-CPT. First, this is further evidence that a partial range of motion squat is better than no squat. A full squat requires optimal flexibility and range of motion from the ankle, knee, and hip, as well as, total body coordination and strength. While a full range of motion should be the desired end-goal, clients that don’t have the flexibility or strength to achieve it will benefit from the partial squat. Second, a partial squat should also be considered if a client can’t obtain a full squat due to a structural dysfunction or previous surgical alteration. Squatting to just 90° of hip flexion is enough to generate a significant contraction within the gluteus maximus, biceps femoris, erector spinae, and soleus. Third, this study normalized the load for the conditions. So, if using a partial squat more load should be applied to get similar results. Lastly, it should be noted that this should not be used to completely replace a full squat unless the client has permanent limitations. When the client demonstrates functional dysfunctions (short muscles, lack of strength, lack of neuromuscular control, etc.) use this as a temporary method to improve control and strength as flexibility and coordination are worked on to eventually achieve a full range of motion squat.

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Health & Fitness

Zuzka Light Full Body Workout

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Photos via IG @zuzkalight

Here’s a couple Zuzka Light‘s easy pace Stretch & Tone workout for Summer Shreds. Zuzka is one of the top influencers in fitness today and has one of the most gorgeous bodies in the world.


It’s nice to take your body through gentle exercise and give your muscles chance to recover and become even stronger.

Also: The Fitness Gurls Podcast: Christmas Abbott





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Health & Fitness

Eight Amazing Benefits of Teaching Yoga

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Every challenging occupation yields some sort of satisfaction, but the fitness professionals industry had an amazing 85% job satisfaction rate according to an Idea Health & Fitness survey.

Job Satisfaction
In the same survey, 98% of those interviewed felt that “My work gives me a feeling of personal accomplishment.” Lack of personal satisfaction is the most frequent reason why people leave a job. These statistics make it obvious that this is an extremely harmonious atmosphere to work in.

Also, check out: Danica Patrick has a strong Yoga game

For many of us who worked in the corporate world and shifted into the health and fitness industry, the energy felt in a health club, ashram, or wellness center is similar to being on vacation.

There’s always something to do, but the job itself is very gratifying.

Rewards of Helping Family, Friends, Students, and Co-workers

Your self-esteem improves as you find solutions for the pain management of others, ailments, fitness, stress management, positive thinking, etc.

The list goes on, as you continue your own journey of self-improvement, but the feeling of gratification you get from helping someone find the right path is beyond words.

You will always remember: That student who reaches their ideal body weight, the physically impaired student who finds that they, too, can live a better quality life, and the student who leaves your class without a headache or a backache they came in with.

Your Own Health
As a practitioner of Yoga, you have become more aware of your daily ups and downs. You monitor your breath, posture, moods, diet, and exercise on a daily basis.

As a Yoga teacher, you are setting an example to your students and teaching them to live a quality life. This path will enable you to live longer and live better.

There is no Shortage of Work
When the working world is in the “9 to 5” mode, you have many opportunities with Corporate Accounts, The Fitness Industry, Senior Centers, Medical Centers, Referrals, etc. This is when you to teach them, with any free time you have.

Once I became totally self-employed, there were more daytime off-site Yoga teaching opportunities than I had time for in a geographic area that has many active Yoga teachers and studios. One of my best students, who became a
Yoga teacher through our on-site program, inherited an area that I could no longer service due to time restraints.

The object is to contact them. This is where your post cards come in handy, if you don’t have a personal referral.

Continuing Education
Yes, learning new things keeps your mind stimulated and healthy. You will never tire of subjects to study, explore, and investigate. There are so many facets of Yoga, that one life span, is just not enough time to learn it all.

It’s not a race, but it is a journey. You will find friends, colleagues, and students who are on the same path. This makes giving, receiving, and sharing a wonderful thing along the way.

Time
You will have time to stop, think, breathe, relax, or meditate. You can always fill your plate beyond its limits, but you no longer have to.

You can determine whether or not you will be stuck in traffic during rush hour. You decide what hours you will work and what days you have off. You will come to the realization that your time is your own.

Independence
Everyone wants control of their own life, but very few achieve it. Being in business for yourself, can help you control your own destiny and that of your family.

Sure there are limits to what one person can accomplish, but it is better to try than to have never tried.

Success
No matter what you want, if you write down your short-term and long-term goals, you will make great progress toward them.

You should keep these goals in a place where you can see them daily and visualize yourself accomplishing your goals. You should be specific about time frames and ethical methods used to meet them. You can even use them in meditation.

Review your long-term goals at least once every season and every year.
Review your short-term goals daily. You will see yourself make rapid success in this way.

Lastly, goals do not have to be material at all. For example: You may want to start teaching Yoga in a year, and the following year, get a part-time Yoga teaching position. This type of goal setting is realistic and beneficial to mankind.

That is the key ñ If you choose a goal that will benefit others, you will surely achieve it.

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Health & Fitness

Stay Healthy – Learn To Meditate

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Wondering how people who live to be 100 with a great quality of life do it? In his book, “Aging Well,” Harvard researcher, George Vaillant, M.D., found out just what centurions do. They cultivate a sense of peace, well-being and maintain a positive attitude. How? Here’s one of their biggest secrets: meditation. What’s ironic about meditation is, it has just become known in the West as a healing technique, but it has been practiced for ages in the East. So in my quest to give you easy sensible ways to purify your energy, I’ll begin by defining meditation, then I’ll show you how easy it is to apply to your daily routine.

Also, check out: Effective Gain From Yoga

Meditation Defined
Meditational exercises primarily use the experience of the body and thought as a means to reconnect with the environment and its healing power. Meditation, when practiced frequently, has been proven to promote inner peace and wellness. Meditation is also a mental practice in which the mind is directed to one area, often the breath. It draws its energy from the human connection to nature and creates a sense of unity or one-ness with it.

This unit has been shown to increase communication with the spirit of the body. It has also been known to allow positive thoughts in and to stimulate positive physiological and psychological effects. Meditation techniques are easy to learn and can easily be incorporated into any lifestyle. If practiced regularly, meditation will bring balance to your body and mind.

General benefits of meditation and breathing exercises include:
– Deep inner peace
– Improved self-esteem
– Increased creativity
– Physical health/healing
– Reduced medical care
– Slowing/reversal of aging
– Reversing of heart disease
– Stimulation of the body’s immune system
– Reduced stress

I have found there is really no one right ways to meditate. Here are a couple of my favorite meditational exercises that will get you started. Remember, there is no wrong path here. Try these, or simply sit in silence for 20 minutes, daily. You’ll be glad you did.

Meditative Grounding Exercise
– Sit with your legs crossed in a comfortable (Indian-style) position with your hands relaxed on you lap. Close your eyes and imagine a beam of light dropping from the base of your spine through the earth and connecting you to its center.

– Allow this beam of light to expand in width until it is wider than your own body and envelopes it. This is your personal space.

This exercise places you totally in your body and reminds you that you are anchored to the earth. Remember, the more grounded you are, the more aware you are. Sense the presence of your higher self: listen to its voice.

Energy Cleaning Exercise
Now that you are grounded, it’s important that you cleanse this personal space. Often we collect other people’s energies and are not aware of it. We do this both through interaction with others and basic activities of daily living.

– To remove all foreign energies from your space, imagine holding a brush and sweeping away the debris.

– Allow the debris to fall to the ground and become washed away. Let the light from the previous exercise envelop your body and spread its healing energy to the edge of your space, forming a protective force field around you.

Cleaning out the area surrounding your body will keep you grounded, define your personal boundaries and declare your space. Then choose who and what you wish to enter you space, keeping disease and illness out.

Breathing Exercise
– Follow your breath as you slowly inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Count with each exhale until you reach 10 then begin again at one.

– If you find yourself past 10, acknowledge this and begin again at one from wherever you are.

– Imagine your body’s cells being replaced with fresh, pure oxygen and positive healing energy from this power source. Picture yourself exhaling old cells, stress, illness and worries.

– Let your thoughts pass through your mind like drifting clouds. Let them in and gently let them pass through. If the mind should harbor a negative thought, refocus on the breath.

– Thank any persistent negative thoughts for coming into your mind then gently let them go.

– Listen only for the positive, pronounced voice; the voice of your body.

Retrieve Your Energy Exercise
Since foreign energy often resides in your space, let’s also assume that you leave energy in other places. After completing the preceding exercises it is necessary to re-energize and call energy back.

– Imagine you have an energy magnet used to attract your energy back to you. Visualize energy flowing back to you, filling your body with light, health and empowerment.

– Allow a few minutes for the process.

Journal Questions:
1. Record in your journal any problem or trouble you may be having ñ emotional, physical or otherwise. Let problems go and give them over to your meditation.

2. Do you notice solutions coming to you throughout the day? Do you notice with regular meditation that your body and mind are becoming calmer and clearer?

Ideas To Consider:

1. Make time for your spirit daily. Exhibit behaviors and self talk that show your reverence for yourself.

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