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the fundamentals of squattingThe squat exercise is a full body exercise that is compound and trains predominantly the muscles of the thighs, hips and buttocks.

This paper will discuss research behind squat techniques, the reason for it and prescription for best athletes. The video at the end then demonstrates correct squatting technique.

Squat’s are great way to develop more muscle mass. Research has shown squats create more growth hormone (GH) compared to leg press. GH is an important aspect of muscle mass.

Research from North Texas University suggests that strength training using bars and dumbbells produces better results as training free weights incorporates more muscle stimulation and physical coordination which is important for muscle mass.

  • This research tested ten (10) 25 year old males with experience with strength training.
  • They each did two sessions a week, the first session doing squats & the other session doing leg press.
  • Both sessions were “Heavy Sessions” at 80% 1RM.
  • Immediately after each session, then after 15 minutes and 30 minutes the researchers found that the rate of GH is higher in squats compared to leg press.
  • The reason behind this could be because the men had to work against their body weight, as well as work at a greater range of movement compared to a leg press.

There are different ways to perform a squat and recent research from Appalachain State University suggests there really isn’t much of a difference within box squats and an ordinary squat.

  • Their results suggest that at 70% to 80% 1RM there was no statistical difference in strength for the two types of squats.
  • They concluded: “The removal of the stretch-shortening cycle by using the box squats may be beneficial as a training tool for those athletes performing concentric-only actions in their sport. For most sport applications, a squat including a stretch shortening cycle may be of greater benefit”.
  • Box squats is a great exercise for athletes who want to get faster. A periodised program is an important aspect to see optimal results.

All footballers want to move faster and the answer is to squat, and squat ‘Heavy’.

  • Research has also shown that heavier squat’s results in faster sprints. A commitment to the gym and focusing on heavy squats has likelihood to translate and increase on field sprinting ability.

Conclusion: Next time you go to the gym, make sure you have a goal. Remember that the research behind squats is not only beneficial for training adaptations but also for rehabilitation, as it’s a functional exercise when performed correctly.

Watch the Physioworks Health Group video on Correct Technique: The Fundamentals of Squatting


Blow, D., Dayne., A.M., Haines, T.L., McBride., J.M., & Triplett, N.T. (2009). Relationship between maximal squat strength and five, 10, and forty yard sprint times. Journal of strength and conditioning research. (6), 1633-1636.

Budnar, R.G., Duplanty, H.H., Hatfield, D.L., Hill, D.W., Shaner, A.A., & Vingren J.L. (2014). The acute hormonal response to free weights and machine weight resistance exercise. Journal of strength and conditioning research (4),1032-1040.

Jared, W.S., Patrick, G.H., McBride, J.M., Skinner, M., Tracie, L., & Tyler, J. (2010). Comparison of Kinetic Variables and Muscle Activity during a squat vs. box squat. Journal of strength and conditioning research (12) 24, 3195-3199.

About the authors:

Jude Hewavasam is an accredited Exercise Physiologist with a Bachelor Degree in Exercise Science and a Masters of Clinical Exercise Physiology. He has a long term professional interest in diabetes and runs a specific exercise group ‘Running with Diabetes’ Jude provides Exercise Physiology services, including individual fitness assessments, one-on-one training and group classes for a wide range of conditions, at Physioworks Camberwell, Cranbourne and Pakenham.

Physiotherapist Chris Seville consults at Physioworks Camberwell. He has particular interest in sports physiotherapy, exercise rehabilitation and Clinical Pilates. Chris’ professional expertise and interest is fuelled by his personal involvement as a member of the Australian Powerlifting Team competing internationally for the past 4 years.