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Thread: EMG bullshit

  1. #1
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    Hey Rip,

    What's up with this EMG activity studies contradicting any biomechanical analysis??? For example study published by NSCA claiming hamstrings get worked the same in front squat and the squat. I know you addressed this topic here on forums and on t-nation, but it would be interesting to see you talk about that in a podcast perhaps. I know NSCA is bs but many people read their studies and tell us their claims are scientifically proven, this has to stop.

  2. #2
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    You're rather late to the party.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by squat_till_u_die View Post
    Hey Rip,

    What's up with this EMG activity studies contradicting any biomechanical analysis??? For example study published by NSCA claiming hamstrings get worked the same in front squat and the squat. I know you addressed this topic here on forums and on t-nation, but it would be interesting to see you talk about that in a podcast perhaps. I know NSCA is bs but many people read their studies and tell us their claims are scientifically proven, this has to stop.
    As Rip pointed out, we have covered this here before, but just in short, the reason you see a lot of these studies that show similar EMG activity between exercise variations is because they are generally requiring the participants to work at or near their maximum in the given exercises. Because of this, all of the involved musculature is working at or near their maximum. This is why a max FS and max BS will show similar EMG activity across all of the lower extremity musculature. However, what gets lost on the authors of these studies is that the varying joint angles between exercises is the key to the differences seen in the loads that you are able to use.

    They don't seem to understand that a 400 pound 1RM BS requires more total force generation and thus produces a greater overall strengthening effect than a 300 pound 1RM FS despite the fact that EMG activity is similar between the two. You can back squat more weight because of the joint angles that must be assumed in order to correctly perform it allows for the involved musculature to produce more total force than a front squat does, not because it will necessarily show greater EMG activity because in both cases the musculature is working at their maximum capacity in that particular movement pattern.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Petrizzo View Post
    As Rip pointed out, we have covered this here before, but just in short, the reason you see a lot of these studies that show similar EMG activity between exercise variations is because they are generally requiring the participants to work at or near their maximum in the given exercises. Because of this, all of the involved musculature is working at or near their maximum. This is why a max FS and max BS will show similar EMG activity across all of the lower extremity musculature. However, what gets lost on the authors of these studies is that the varying joint angles between exercises is the key to the differences seen in the loads that you are able to use.

    They don't seem to understand that a 400 pound 1RM BS requires more total force generation and thus produces a greater overall strengthening effect than a 300 pound 1RM FS despite the fact that EMG activity is similar between the two. You can back squat more weight because of the joint angles that must be assumed in order to correctly perform it allows for the involved musculature to produce more total force than a front squat does, not because it will necessarily show greater EMG activity because in both cases the musculature is working at their maximum capacity in that particular movement pattern.
    All this^ . . . AND . . .
    I'm sure they are NOT doing a SS Low Bar Back Squat, comparing to a front squat.
    Probably NSCA doing high bar squats for the 'back squat'.
    Then comparing that to their shitty looking torso-hunched-over-toes-facing-forwards-front-squats (which mechanically look like alot the high bar squat they just performed).
    Add in the fussy-ness and +/- error factor of those EMG sensors . . . not surprising the 'same-ness' of the hamstring involvement.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Petrizzo View Post
    As Rip pointed out, we have covered this here before, but just in short, the reason you see a lot of these studies that show similar EMG activity between exercise variations is because they are generally requiring the participants to work at or near their maximum in the given exercises. Because of this, all of the involved musculature is working at or near their maximum. This is why a max FS and max BS will show similar EMG activity across all of the lower extremity musculature. However, what gets lost on the authors of these studies is that the varying joint angles between exercises is the key to the differences seen in the loads that you are able to use.

    They don't seem to understand that a 400 pound 1RM BS requires more total force generation and thus produces a greater overall strengthening effect than a 300 pound 1RM FS despite the fact that EMG activity is similar between the two. You can back squat more weight because of the joint angles that must be assumed in order to correctly perform it allows for the involved musculature to produce more total force than a front squat does, not because it will necessarily show greater EMG activity because in both cases the musculature is working at their maximum capacity in that particular movement pattern.
    So, even though the 300 1RM FS and 400 1RM BS stress the hamstrings with the same amount of intensity, the BS lends the advantage of stressing other parts of the kinematic chain more. And this is because of the better leverages BS has. How far did I get right?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by MBasic View Post
    All this^ . . . AND . . .
    I'm sure they are NOT doing a SS Low Bar Back Squat, comparing to a front squat.
    Probably NSCA doing high bar squats for the 'back squat'.
    Then comparing that to their shitty looking torso-hunched-over-toes-facing-forwards-front-squats (which mechanically look like alot the high bar squat they just performed).
    Add in the fussy-ness and +/- error factor of those EMG sensors . . . not surprising the 'same-ness' of the hamstring involvement.
    This is a good point. There was a study published recently that compared EMG activity in the FS and BS where they literally used a stopper so that all subjects across both conditions only flexed their knees to 90 degrees. If you are performing two different movement patterns how does it makes sense to artificially make them more similar? This is typical when the involved researchers have no practical experience in the field (The thread that Austin started is a great example of this: ...In which the Strength & Conditioning Journal teaches us how to coach the Squat)

    Many of the studies on "squats" that I have read provide very little description of the type of squat that was used in the study (bar placement, depth, joint angles, etc.) which would all be very relevant in any discussion of EMG activity across different movement patterns.

    So, even though the 300 1RM FS and 400 1RM BS stress the hamstrings with the same amount of intensity, the BS lends the advantage of stressing other parts of the kinematic chain more. And this is because of the better leverages BS has. How far did I get right?
    That is pretty close. In short, the BS puts the hamstrings (as well as all of the other posterior chain muscles) in a position that facilitates greater amounts of force production when compared to the FS. That is why you can always BS more than you can FS despite the fact that EMG activity may be similar at maximum loading across each condition.

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