The Effect of Stance Width on the Electromyographical Activity of Eight Superficial Thigh Muscles during the Back Squat with Different Bar Loads

Antonio Paoli, Giuseppe Marcolin and Nicola Petrone

Purpose: To test the theory that varying the stance width during the back squat exercise can target specific muscles of the thigh. The activation of the vastus medialis, vastus lateralis and rectus femoris (3 of the quadriceps group), semitendinosus and biceps femoris (2 of the hamstring group), gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and adductor major was measured during 3 different stance widths with no load, 30% of 1-RM and 70% of 1-RM.

Conclusions: A higher activation of the gluteus maximus (buttocks) occurred with a wide stance. No significant differences occurred between the other muscles tested regardless of load and stance width.

IN PLAIN ENGLISH: Back squatting with any load and any stance width will activate the muscles that comprise the thigh. However, to put a greater stress on the buttocks, a wider stance should be used.