Hamstring-to-quadriceps activation ratio during lower-limb strengthening exercises

Filipe Veeck*, Jonathas Stoll de Vargas, Rúbia Anelise Trabach Godinho, Eurico N. Wilhelm, Matheus Daros Pinto, Ronei Silveira Pinto

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Multiple exercises included in strength training involve greater activation of the quadriceps compared to hamstring muscles, which may lead to knee joint imbalances. The aim of this study was to examine the ratio of surface electromyography (sEMG) activity hamstring and quadriceps muscle groups (hamstring-to-quadriceps activation ratio; H:Q EMG), as well as lateral to medial hamstring activation ratio (LH:MH) in parallel squat, Romanian deadlift, hip thrust, lying leg curl and seated knee extension. The H:Q EMG was greater during lying leg curl compared to other exercises during both the concentric and eccentric phase, however the Romanian deadlift and hip thrust also resulted in relatively high H:Q EMG. Pairwise comparisons revealed that LH:MH was greater in the parallel squat compared to the Romanian deadlift and hip thrust in the concentric phase, and compared to the Romanian deadlift and hip thrust during the eccentric phase. Our data suggests that the lying leg curl promotes the greatest hamstring activation and H:Q EMG, amongst the exercises investigated, while also providing relatively homogenous LH:MH. The lying leg curl should be considered as a primary exercise in rehabilitation and training programmes, aiming to proportionally activate LH:MH and increase H:Q EMG, which may improve knee muscle balance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalResearch in Sports Medicine
Early online date25 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Nov 2023

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