However, some studies suggest that a low-volume high-load squat is a better way to protect against common musculoskeletal injuries. In fact, a recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that performing a low-volume high-load squat 2x a week reduced the incidence of strain injuries by 48% in young healthy men.

A recent study from the University of Wisconsin found that squatting (aka low-bar back squat) with a load placed on the upper back significantly improved sprint performance in 55- to 65-year-old men. The researchers, from the Department of Health and Physical Education, noted that the squatting-specific training program was designed for men in their late 60s and early 70s, and it increased leg power by 33% in 10 weeks. In addition, the researchers found that the squatting-specific training was equally effective for men of any age.

The majority of the time, we do not know how much of a positive or negative effect a single motion or muscle group has on our overall performance. But what if you could know? It is common knowledge that heavy squats can improve your squatting performance, but it is not exactly clear whether lighter squats produce the same benefits. And, if you run fast, it is not clear whether this workout benefits your running speed or not. (Sorry, not sorry for the pun.)

I used to like running as a kid. (I still like it at my advanced age.)

That isn’t entirely correct. Walking past folks is something I truly love.

It’s not like I’m walking by folks on the street, at the mall, or even on the treadmill. When I play football, basketball, or Ultimate Frisbee, I prefer to sprint for other people.

I’m not sure why, but passing someone who is trying to remain ahead of me makes me extremely pleased.

As a result, I spent much of my youth attempting to improve my speed. At the time, I wish I had read more research. I could have saved both time and money if I had done so.

Question for investigation

The topic of this week’s post is a research that looks at the link between sprinting and squat strength.

This isn’t the first time a research has done so. There was no link between sprint timings (10 and 40 meters) and squats with the equipment in one research (1).

They didn’t, however, look at the actual squat, the one with the dumbbell.

Another research showed no link between sprint time and maximum isometric (static) strength of the various joints – knee extensors (primarily quadriceps), hip extensors (mostly glutes and hamstrings), hip flexors (particularly hip flexors) (2).

They did not, however, look at multi-joint motions, which are workouts that include more than one moving component.

So far, we’ve learned that some laboratory settings have little bearing on running. Neither of these methods correlate to how sprinters really train: with free weights and complicated exercises such as barbell squats, jump squats, and power cleans.

As a result, this group chose to evaluate activities with free weights rather than machines, and strength with several joints rather than strength with a single joint. The performance of the free weight squat was compared to that of the sprint by the researchers.

Before we begin the research, the authors made a HUGE assumption, which I’ll accept for the time being and see if you can find out by the conclusion of the review.

JM McBride, D Blow, TJ Kirby, TL Haines, AM Dayne, and NT Triplett. The connection between maximum squat strength and sprint timings of five, ten, and forty meters. 2009 Sep;23(6):1633-6. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Sep;23(6):1633-6.


This study’s subjects are unusual in that they are not untrained. Untrained individuals are considerably simpler to get by than trained participants.

These candidates are not only well-prepared, but also very exclusive. They are American football players in Division I-AA (17 players to be exact).

These individuals have strength-training expertise and also participate in sports that demand a specific sprint speed (depending on their position), so it’s worth looking into whether there’s a link between squat strength and sprint time.

Table 1 summarizes the averages of the participants.

a certain height (metres) the amount of weight (kg) BMI (kg/m2) is a measure of how healthy a person is. RM 1 (squat – kg) 1 MR/body mass index*
5’10 1.6) 1.780.04 85.98.8 pounds (19.4 lbs) 27.0±2.6 166.534.1 pounds (75.2 lbs) (367.1 lbs) 1.94±0.33

*Note: Here’s a video of our Christa Schaus squatting with 156.5 kg (345 lbs) for a body weight of 60.3 kg (133 lbs) – the highest body weight to body weight in one repetition is 2.6!

A few studies have looked at squat strength and sprint timings, but none have looked at various distances, as I stated in the beginning. They compared 3 different distances (5 yards, 10 yards, and 40 yards) to a 1 RM free squat in their research.

Squat maximum repetitions: 1

A warm-up activity was conducted before the subjects completed the maximum number of squat repetitions. Warm-up exercises included 8-10 repetitions at 30% RM (depending on the hypothesis), 4-6 repetitions at 50% RM, 2-4 repetitions at 70% RM, and 1 repetition at 90% RM.

A word of caution: If you don’t want to hurt yourself, you should stretch as well, particularly if you’re attempting a 1 rep max.

The depth of the squats is also an essential consideration while doing maximal squats in a single repetition. For years, the belief has been that squatting below parallel (or a 90 degree knee angle) may cause injury.

Well, I think it’s a load of rubbish! I’ll examine an article that supports my allegation of mockery in a minute. Have you ever seen Olympic competitors compete? They stoop so low that their hamstrings brush up against their calves.

Players squatted to a knee angle of 70 degrees for this research – yep, below parallel! The researchers were so careful that they measured the angle of the knee using a goniometer (from the Greek words gonia – angle and metron – measurement).

They were given a maximum of four tries at 3-5 minute intervals to ensure they came as near to their MR 1 as feasible.


Run in a Sprint

Participants began from a three-point location, started when they wished (a touchpad detected the start time), and ran as quickly as they could for 40 meters, with sprint time recorded by an infrared sensor at 5 meters, 10 meters, and the finish line (40 meters).


With a few exceptions, there is a link between 1-mR squat strength and sprint time.

  1. Body weight was used to adjust the knee flexion force of 1 RM (ratio 1 RM/body weight).
  2. Sprint timings at 10 and 40 yards are correlated with 1 rep max/body weight, but not so strongly at 5 yards (more on this later).

sprint time and 1 rep max/body weight

Why are body weight changes made?

Sprinting, on the other hand, is dependent on body mass: the larger the mass, the more force is required to achieve a certain speed (ol’ physics equation: force = mass X acceleration or acceleration = force/mass).

Sprinting takes the greatest energy since it forces you to accelerate to a particular pace.

Running the ball isn’t simply a phrase; it’s a notion that relates to the necessity to exert energy in order to propel anything forward. It’s less difficult to keep the ball rolling.

You may also do this easy experiment if you don’t believe in physics: Take your time and run 40 yards as quickly as you can, then relax for a few minutes before putting on a 20-pound vest and trying again. Were you faster wearing the vest or not? The solution is self-evident.

As a result, the ratio of 1 RM squat to body weight should be used for analysis in this research.

Why does 1RM/body weight have a positive relationship with 10 and 40 yards but not with 5 yards?

The ratio of 1RM squat to body weight associated with 10 and 40 yard sprint times (the greater the ratio, the quicker the time), but not with 5 yard sprint timings, according to the researchers.

What gives that this is possible? Isn’t it true that if you’re faster, you’re faster? The most probable reason is that 5 yards is insufficient to distinguish between the two.

There was no statistical difference at the 5-yard mark, yet there was a difference.

Alert the nerds!

A little statistical digression Yes, it’s time to talk about statistical differences once again (or significance).

For statistical differences, the magic (and arbitrary) number is 5% (p=0.05; p indicates probability) or less in statistics. This indicates that there is a 5% chance (or less) that the observed difference is a cosmic coincidence, or a 95% likelihood (probability) that the difference is genuine.

The chance that the differences are random is 6.98 percent in the instance of the 5-yard run, and since this is more than the magic threshold of 5%, it is presumed that there is no statistical difference, but I contend that there is most likely a genuine difference.

You are 5 meters quicker if you are 40 meters faster and 10 meters faster, but the difference is less since you have less time to make up the gap.

higher or lesser than or equal to 2,0 1PM/kg of body weight

The participants were split into two groups and their sprint timings were compared. The following were the two groups:

  1. A 1RM to bodyweight ratio of more than 2.1 is considered strong.
  2. Less than 1.9 1RM to bodyweight ratio

And, sure enough, the group with a ratio higher than 2.1 – that is, those who squatted more in proportion to their body weight – was quicker over 10 and 40 meters than the group with a ratio less than 1.9. For the same reason as before, there was no change at the 5-yard mark.


The 1 rep max squat corresponds with quicker timings at 40 yards, 10 yards, and perhaps 5 yards when adjusted for body mass (in the real world, but not statistically).

You’re probably quicker than someone with an MR to body weight ratio of 1.9 if it’s greater than 2.1.

Isn’t it true that raising your 1 rep max squat enhances sprint performance? Maybe. This is the major assumption I made in the introduction: correlation does not imply causation.

Yes, this study found a link, but it doesn’t indicate that increasing squat strength improves sprint performance. Perhaps the quickest individuals are just the strongest.

This research is exploratory but not conclusive; it offers evidence but not testimony.

A research that looks at improvements in individuals is needed to show that greater squat strength makes people quicker.

What will it look like? This entails picking individuals at random (from weak to strong, slow to quick) and putting them through a training program to improve knee flexion strength.

Before and after the training program, you may examine your sprint timings.

If there is a link between better knee flexion strength and faster sprint times, then enhanced knee flexion strength may be said to improve sprint time.

Back line

There are many advantages to a powerful squat.

Increase the amount of squats you do with free weights to 70 degrees of knee flexion if you want to be quicker, but keep in mind that there is no proof that increasing squat strength increases sprint speed in this research – just that individuals who could do more squats did.

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For over a decade, researchers have theorized about whether the speed of a sprint is directly correlated with force generated during the movement. In 2009, a study conducted by a group of researchers at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom discovered that the explosive power in a sprint of elite sprinters was higher than that of recreational athletes. This study stirred up debate in the weightlifting community, since most of us think of strength during the squat as being slow, deliberate, and fairly stiff.. Read more about how many squats should i do and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do heavy squats increase sprint speed?

Yes, heavy squats increase sprint speed.

Should sprinters do full squats?

No, they should not do full squats.

Will heavy squats make me faster?

Heavy squats are not a good idea for sprinting. Sprinting is all about speed, and heavy squats will slow you down.

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