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Exercise Analysis

The Cybex Research Institute takes a scientific look at some common, and some not so common exercises. We conduct a biomechanical analysis of a variety of exercises, examining the forces, joint torques, and movement strategies associated with each movement.

Each exercise is broken down into its parts, and its challenges and flaws are identified. Our goal is to help viewers develop a more critical eye when examining exercise techniques.

If you have any suggestions or thoughts on exercises you would like to see examined, please click here.

Plié Squats

With so many variations of the bodyweight squat exercise, we at the Cybex Research Institute (CRI) often get asked exactly which style is the ‘best.’ Almost always, the answer is dependent on the goal of the exercise. One popular change to the traditional squat is called the plié (or sometimes sumo) squat, where the exerciser widens their stance width beyond the shoulders. What exactly is the difference between this and a normal-stance squat?

Ball Squats vs. Traditional Squats

Episode 2 of our exercise analysis series examines the biomechanics of the legs during both the traditional squat and ball squat. We found that performing the exercise with the physio-ball results in reduced glute and hamstring involvement and an increase in quadriceps involvement compared to the standard body weight squat. Thus, the exercise becomes much more knee-focused with the use of the ball.

Pushing Through The Heels

Why are people told to push through the heels while performing ground-based exercises, like the squat? This study attempts to answer this question by bringing people into the laboratory and asking them to squat while instructing them to push through different spots on their feet.

Step Up

The step up is a fundamental exercise that increases strength, power and stability as each leg is worked independently. However, the exercise is full of nuance as subtle changes in position and movement can impact the outcomes.

Unilateral Box Squat

The unilateral or single leg box squat is a challenging exercise designed to increase strength, stability and power. There are two forms of this exercise: the pistol squat and the free hanging leg. This video will analyze the latter exercise.

Physioball Wall Squat

The physioball wall squat is a popular exercise that is often used as a training tool for free body squats or for simulating other ground based exercises. The squat is thought to produce a well-balanced exercise that is easy on joints. But if not properly executed, the exercise effect is questionable.


In this video, Dr. Juris evaluates two versions of the forward lunge: one with the trunk upright and one with the body inclined forward. Using an instrumented foot plate to measure the results from these two lunges, Dr. Juris notes how these exercises yield different results.