Offset Loading in a Bilateral Squatting Movement Pattern Influences Ground-Reaction Force and Muscle Activity in the Dominant and Nondominant Limb

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Charlie R. Ottinger Applied Science and Performance Institute, Tampa, FL, USA
Concordia University Chicago, River Forest, IL, USA

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James J. Tufano Concordia University Chicago, River Forest, IL, USA
Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic

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Kristen C. Cochrane-Snyman Concordia University Chicago, River Forest, IL, USA

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Raad H. Gheith Applied Science and Performance Institute, Tampa, FL, USA

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Jeffrey M. McBride Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, USA

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Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore whether offset loading in the barbell squat altered ground-reaction force (GRF) and muscle activation in the dominant (D) and nondominant (ND) lower limb compared to traditional squats. Methods: Twelve well-trained men (age 26.4 [3.2] y; 10.3 [1.9] y experience) performed 3 sets of 10 repetitions at 60% of their previously measured 1-repetition maximum. Sets were quasi-randomized between traditional loading (TDL), dominant-side offset loading (OS-D), and nondominant-side offset loading (OS-ND). All repetitions were performed on a dual force plate with electromyography sensors on the prime mover muscles of the squat. GRF symmetry was assessed using the symmetry index (SI) to determine the direction (D [+] or ND [−]) and magnitude (%) of the asymmetry. Finally, the first 3 and final 3 repetitions of each set were compared for compensatory changes in symmetry. Results: OS-D induced a significant change in limb SI relative to TDL (5.21% vs 1.44%; P = .011); however, no significant difference in limb SI was seen between TDL and OS-ND (−0.66% vs 1.44%; P = .278). No asymmetries between D and ND muscle activation were present in any condition. TDL and OS-D squats exhibited significant improvements in limb SI between the first 3 and final 3 repetitions (P = .035 and .011, respectively); however, no such improvement was seen in OS-ND. Conclusions: OS-D is capable of significantly altering GRF limb SI in a bilateral squat; however, OS-ND appears to exhibit no GRF or electromyography effects relative to TDL. Thus, the results of this study do not support the use of OS-ND in the pursuit of strengthening a weaker limb, suggesting that unilateral training may be a preferred mode of exercise for this desired outcome.

Ottinger (cottinger@theaspi.com) is corresponding author.

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