|Original image from the publication.|
The use of resisted sled exercises, on the other hand, is a relatively new phenomenon of which we don't even know yet how it compares to the classics.
Accordingly, Maddigan et al. set out to compare the muscle activation between squatting and sled pushing on the activity of leg and trunk muscles in ten healthy resistance-trained men in the context of a randomized crossover design study.
The study consisted of 2 preparation sessions and 2 testing sessions. Electromyographic (EMG) activity of the rectus femoris, biceps femoris, gastrocnemius, lower erector spinae, and the transversus abdominis/ internal obliques (TrA/IO) were monitored during a 20-step maximum push with the weighted sled apparatus and a 10 repetition maximum with a bilateral back squat.
All ten subjects were healthy resistance-trained men (age 24.6 years, mass 84.5 kg, height 178.3cm) who had at least 2 years of resistance training and squat experience and were also familiar with performing the sled exercises (however, the volume of squat experiences exceeded sled training volumes or training durations).
As you can see in Figure 1 there were nonsignificant trends for the rectus femoris ( p = 0.092: 8.6– 16.7%) and biceps femoris ( p = 0.09: 10.5–32.8%) to demonstrate higher activity with the sled and squat exercises, respectively. A result based on which you could conclude that
- squatting is better for the quads, while
- sled pushing is th better hamstring exercise
- Maddigan, Meaghan E., Duane C. Button, and David G. Behm. "Lower-Limb and Trunk Muscle Activation With Back Squats and Weighted Sled Apparatus." Journal of strength and conditioning research/National Strength & Conditioning Association 28.12 (2014): 3346-3353.