Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Kinesiology and Nutrition Sciences

First Committee Member

Gabriele Wuld

Second Committee Member

James Navalta

Third Committee Member

Brach Poston

Fourth Committee Member

Szu-Ping Lee

Number of Pages



The back squat is a task commonly used to train and test performance levels in competitive sports and strength based performance events. The purpose of this study was to analyze the potential performance benefits for a 1-repetition max (1RM) back squat under conditions in which the three key factors of OPTIMAL theory of motor learning (Wulf & Lewthwaite, 2016) are present: Enhanced expectancies (EE), autonomy support (AS), and an external focus (EF) of attention. Participants (N = 23) were assigned to either an optimized condition, which included EE AS, and EF, or a control condition. They were asked to perform a 1RM back squat protocol on two days, one week apart. The first day of testing served to establish a baseline for both groups. Results demonstrated an increase in 1RM performance as well as an increase in self efficacy relative to baseline in the optimized group. The control group demonstrated no changes in 1RM performance or self-efficacy. The findings reported in this study provide support for predictions of the OPTIMAL theory. They provide practitioners with practical information that may be beneficial for implementation in regular training for strength based performance tasks or in competitive settings.


Motor performance; Optimal theory





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Kinesiology Commons