The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research
National Strength and Conditioning Association
School of Medical and Health Sciences
The purpose of this study was to compare and contrast the kinetics and kinematics of squat and step-up performance in well-trained athletes. Triaxial ground reaction force (GRF) and 3D kinematic data were collected in 4 maximal effort repetitions each at 70, 80, and 90% of 1 repetition maximum (1RM) of squat and step-up. The difference in concentric phase kinetics and kinematics between the squat and step-up was compared using effect sizes (ES ± 90% confidence limits [CLs]) classified as: less than 0.2 as trivial; 0.2-0.6 as small; 0.6-1.2 as moderate; and 1.2-2.0 as large. Where the 90% CL crossed negative and positive 0.2 values, the effect was considered "unclear.n Ground reaction force was higher for the step-up than squat at all relative intensities per leg (peak GRF ES: 2.56 ± 0.19 to 2.70 ± 0.37; average GRF ES: 1.45 ± 0.27 to 1.48 ± 0.29). Per leg, the difference in concentric impulse favored the step-up compared with squat at 70% 1RM (ES = 0.71 ± 0.40) and 80% 1RM (ES = 0.30 ± 0.41) but was unclear at 90% 1RM (ES = -0.25 ± 0.47). The squat peak velocity was greater compared with step-up at all intensities (ES = -1.74 ± 0.48 to -1.33 ± 0.48). Despite a lower external load and a single base of support, per leg, the step-up produced comparable GRF because the squat suggesting overload provided by the step-up is sufficient for maximal strength development. Future research may investigate the efficacy of the step-up in a training intervention for the development of lower-body strength.