Effects of squat training with different depths on lower limb muscle volumes



The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of squat training with different depths on lower limb muscle volumes.


Seventeen males were randomly assigned to a full squat training group (FST, n = 8) or half squat training group (HST, n = 9). They completed 10 weeks (2 days per week) of squat training. The muscle volumes (by magnetic resonance imaging) of the knee extensor, hamstring, adductor, and gluteus maximus muscles and the one repetition maximum (1RM) of full and half squats were measured before and after training.


The relative increase in 1RM of full squat was significantly greater in FST (31.8 ± 14.9%) than in HST (11.3 ± 8.6%) (p = 0.003), whereas there was no difference in the relative increase in 1RM of half squat between FST (24.2 ± 7.1%) and HST (32.0 ± 12.1%) (p = 0.132). The volumes of knee extensor muscles significantly increased by 4.9 ± 2.6% in FST (p < 0.001) and 4.6 ± 3.1% in HST (p = 0.003), whereas that of rectus femoris and hamstring muscles did not change in either group. The volumes of adductor and gluteus maximus muscles significantly increased in FST (6.2 ± 2.6% and 6.7 ± 3.5%) and HST (2.7 ± 3.1% and 2.2 ± 2.6%). In addition, relative increases in adductor (p = 0.026) and gluteus maximus (p = 0.008) muscle volumes were significantly greater in FST than in HST.


The results suggest that full squat training is more effective for developing the lower limb muscles excluding the rectus femoris and hamstring muscles.

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Fig. 1
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Analysis of variance


Biceps femoris long head muscle


Biceps femoris short head muscle


Effect size


Full squat training


Half squat training


Standard deviation


Semimembranosus muscle


Semitendinosus muscle


One repetition maximum


Rectus femoris muscle


Vastus intermedius muscle


Vastus lateralis muscle


Vastus medialis muscle


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This study was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B) (17H02149 to K. Kubo) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. The authors thank Mr. Sasaki S. (Hanada College) for his technical assistance with magnetic resonance imaging measurements.

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All authors approved to submit this manuscript. The contributions of all authors were as follows: KK: conception of this study, acquisition of data, drafting the manuscript; TI: acquisition of data, analysis data; HY: drafting figures and tables, conception of this study.

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Correspondence to Keitaro Kubo.

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Kubo, K., Ikebukuro, T. & Yata, H. Effects of squat training with different depths on lower limb muscle volumes. Eur J Appl Physiol 119, 1933–1942 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-019-04181-y

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  • Knee extensor
  • Hamstring
  • Adductor
  • Gluteus maximus
  • Magnetic resonance imaging