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Are you aware of any research studies on the activation levels of the gluteus medius during the performance of the low bar squat? Specifically, any electromyography (EMG) studies?
From a purely visual perspective, it doesn't look like this muscle group would be very involved in the performance of this movement, certainly not as involved as the gluteus maximus or other muscles in the posterior chain.
The research studies I've seen on the gluteus medius suggest that there are a host of musculoskeletal problems associated with weakness in this area, including knee, back and hip pain. If the low bar squat primarily works the gluteus maximus (to the exclusion of the gluteus medius), then my concern would be that an imbalance of these two muscle groups might lead to some of these issues in some lifters, even if they are performing the movement correctly.
I'm trying to understand why a couple of my best lifters complain from time to time about knee "tightness" – nothing major, just an annoying "tightness". One of them said – "it feels like my knee could use a chiropractic adjustment." They both know how to squat, and will continue to squat. I can add an exercise or two that specifically addresses the strengthening of the gluteus medius; but I don't want to waste their time with those exercises if the squat itself will correct the problem.
You acknowledge that the glute medius is primarily responsible for hip abduction (in isolation). However, their true function is to isometrically stabilize the hip and keep it level while in single leg stance during activities such as walking or running (as another poster has pointed out). Irrespective of that, during the LBBS or any squat in which you are shoving your knees out away from the mid-line of the body during the descent and keep them out there during the ascent the glute medius is working. If you could explain a mechanism by which they somehow would not be working given that scenario, I would be curious to hear it.
In regards to the study you posted, a few thoughts. First, EMG studies are often not very useful for application to training. Secondly, manual strength testing is wildly subjective. I would be very cautious about drawing any conclusions about squats, deadlifts, or anything training related based on an EMG study which manually tested the glutes in isolation.
While training with Tommy Suggs at my university, he shared his experiences of milkshakes while training. I asked him what were in these milkshakes when he made them and this is what he said:
"I use about two cups of milk, a banana, a scoop of protein power, a heaping soup spoon of peanut butter, enough honey to sweeten to taste and four or five ice cubes."
Best damn protein smoothie. Period. I personally use chocolate whey I got from whole foods, but I have tried with vanilla when I ran out of choc. It was still pretty good.
Rip, do you have any personal favorites you recommend?
I use a blender drink as a meal replacement, and I'm not trying to gain weight, so I like a diet orange soda, some frozen fruit, and and 50g of NOW unflavored whey.
Chocolate whey, milk, heaping spoon of peanut butter, banana, and some greek yogurt. Also ice of course.
The best I've had lately is: Two scoops of ON Mocha Cappuccino whey, Two raw eggs, a spoonful of creamy natural peanut butter, a spoonful of milled flax, about 20 ounces of milk
2 cups greek yogurt, 1 cup frozen blueberries, 2 Tbsp peanut butter, 2 servings of ON extreme milk chocolate whey powder, 1/2c of milk, and a little bit of honey.
I'm an orange julius fan, so I can't seem to beat: 2 scoops vanilla whey, 2 cups milk, 2 eggs, dash of dreamwhip, 3-4 ounces of frozen orange juice concentrate, Ice to taste
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