Does squatting need attention?—A dual-task study on cognitive resources in resistance exercise

Autoři: Fabian Herold aff001;  Dennis Hamacher aff002;  Alexander Törpel aff002;  Leonard Goldschmidt aff002;  Notger G. Müller aff001;  Lutz Schega aff002
Působiště autorů: Research Group Neuroprotection, German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), Magdeburg, Germany aff001;  Institute III, Department of Sport Science, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, Magdeburg, Germany aff002;  Center for Behavioral Brain Sciences (CBBS), Magdeburg, Germany aff003;  Department of Neurology, Medical Faculty, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, Magdeburg, Germany aff004
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 15(1)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0226431



Accumulating evidence shows that acute resistance exercises and long-term resistance training positively influence cognitive functions, but the underlying mechanisms have been rarely investigated. One explanatory approach assumes that the execution of resistance exercises requires higher cognitive processes which, in turn, lead to an ‘indirect’ training of higher cognitive functions. However, current knowledge on the engagement of higher cognitive functions during the execution of resistance exercises is relatively sparse. Hence, the purpose of this study was to examine to what extent cognitive resources are needed to perform a resistance exercise in the form of barbell back squatting.


Twenty-four young adults performed a cognitive task (serial subtraction of 7’s) during standing and during barbell back squatting on a Smith machine. The total number and the number of correct responses were analyzed and taken as indicators of the cognitive load imposed by the experimental condition (squatting) and the control condition (standing). Additionally, participants’ perceived exertion, mean heart rate, and the number of squats they were able to perform were assessed.


While accuracy scores were found not to be significantly different between conditions, the numbers of total and of correct responses were significantly lower during squatting than during standing. Additionally, during squatting a higher number of total answers was given in the fifth set compared to the first set. We attribute this phenomenon to a learning effect. Furthermore, there was no statistically significant correlation between cognitive measures and perceived exertion.


Results suggest that perceived exertion cannot explain the higher dual-task costs observed during squatting. They rather reflect that more cognitive resources are needed to perform low-load barbell back squats than during standing. However, further research is necessary to confirm and generalize these findings.

Klíčová slova:

Cognition – Cognitive impairment – Cognitive psychology – Exercise – Heart rate – Learning – Physical activity – Strength training


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