The effectiveness of weight-belts during the squat exercise

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The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of weight-belts during the performance of the parallel squat exercise. Six subjects were filmed (40 fps) as they performed three trials at each of three belt conditions (NB, none; LB, light; HB, heavy) in random order and three load conditions (70, 80, 90% 1RM (one repetition maximum)) in increasing order. The parameters examined were collected and interfaced to a computer via an analog-to-digital (A/D) converter: ground reaction forces, intra-abdominal pressure (IAP), and EMG for the rectus abdominus (RA), external oblique (EO), and erector spinae (ES) muscles. Most differences were observed during the 90% 1RM condition, and only they are presented in this paper. Maximum IAP values were always greater (P < 0.05) for the weight-belt conditions (LB, 29.2; HB, 29.1 > NB, 26.8 kPa). Similar results were observed for the mean IAP. The integrated EMG (iEMG) activity of the muscles and adjusted mean values for back compressive force and back muscle force followed a similar but opposite pattern, with NB being the greatest. ES mEMG/(L5/S1) values for HB (18.1%) were the least, followed by LB (20.01%) and NB (22.3%). Few differences were observed between belt types. These data suggest that a weight-belt can aid in supporting the trunk by increasing IAP.

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