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Squats with a flexible bar: a lot of impact on muscles with relatively little weight

Squats with a flexible bar: a lot of impact on muscles with relatively little weight
If you squat with a flexible bar made of plastic instead of steel, you can stimulate your muscles using relatively little weight in a way that normally would require much heavier weights. That's what manufacturers of flexible weight lifting equipment claim. They may very well be right, discovered American exercise scientists from Furman University.

The researchers had 10 male football players squat with 30 percent of the load with which just 1 rep was possible. On one occasion, the subjects used a classic steel bar, at other times a flexible bar. The researchers had placed electrodes on the skin of the test subjects with which they could measure the activity of the muscles below.

The researchers used the Tsunami Bar. The manufacture gave the researchers the equipment they used for their experiments, but did not sponsor the study.

Squats with the Tsunami Bar provided almost all muscles involved with a greater stimulus than squats with the traditional bar. This was especially the case with the muscles in the midsection of the body.

Squats with a flexible bar: a lot of impact on muscles with relatively little weight

Squats with a flexible bar: a lot of impact on muscles with relatively little weight

"Based on the findings, the flexible bar would be recommended for increasing stabilizer core muscle group activation such as the rectus abdominus, rectus femoris, external obliques for the squat as well as the knee extensors such as the vastus lateralis for the squat exercise", schrijven de onderzoekers.

"Because of the flexible nature of the bar, this additional muscle activity may be due to the additional instability introduced by oscillations perpendicular to the lifting motion proposed by the manufacturer."

"Familiarization is suggested to prepare athletes for this inherent instability and to limit any safety concerns."

"Future protocols could compare the potential changes in strength or power over various training periods using the flexible bar compared to the steel bar. There may be adaptations that would limit the increases in muscle activity as subjects become more accustomed to the motion of the flexible bar."

Journal of Human Sport and Exercise 2017;12(2):380-38.

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