No reason to argue! The Barbell Squat deserves a medal in the contest for the best Quad exercise! Front or Back squats – all vastus muscles are hit hard with a strict squat performed with good form to failure. And yes, the exercise brings in agonists and stabilisers, and is multi-joint, close-chain and to use a rather corny word, “functional”! No question, squatting with weights pays off, and improvements are readily translated into enhanced athletic performance. However, given the anatomy and function of the m. rectus femoris, one of the four quadriceps players, it does not concert the vastus muscles in the barbell squat. In fact, the muscle is silent, when there is simultaneous large movement about the hip joint. Now, can any of the nHANCE configurations beat the “King of Quad exercises”!
Some years ago Drs. Lena Norrbrand, Julio Tous and co-workers set out to compare how much the different muscles were involved in the barbell squat and nHANCE driven by YoYo Technology MultiGym, which is designed for the semi-supine Squat/Leg Press. State of the art functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique measured muscle use. In brief, about 4 min after either exercise, the subjects, who were regular weight trainees, were scanned inside the MRI unit. The magnitude of individual muscle use was quantified in thigh images. As it turned out, this research study (Norrbrand, L., et al. Quadriceps muscle use in the flywheel and barbell squat. Aviat Space Environ Med 2011; 82:13–19) showed nHANCE called for GREATER muscle use, and in particular the rectus femoris was more involved, and this effect was accomplished with less exercise time.