Heavier squat, faster sprint

The greater the weight at which you can squat, the faster your sprint will be, write sports scientists from the American Appalachian State University in an article in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. The researchers used seventeen professional footballers for their measurements.

It’s not the first time that researchers have noticed a relationship between athletes’ performances on leg machines in the gym and sprint times. In those studies it was also clear that the more weight the athletes could manage with the squat for example, the faster they were over short distances. In this study the researchers looked at whether the relationship holds for American footballers. They selected seventeen trained American football players [average height: 1.78 metres, average weight: 86 kg] and measured how fast they could sprint 5, 9 and 37 metres [5, 10 and 40 yards in the Anglo Saxon system].

The researchers divided the subjects according to whether a player could just manage 1 free squat with a weight that was lighter than 1.9 times his bodyweight or heavier than 2.1 times his bodyweight. They then looked at whether the latter group of players was able to sprint faster than the first group. And it turned out to be so. The relationship was strongest for the 37 metre sprint.


For the 9 metre sprint the relationship was a bit less strong, but still significant. Compare the P in the graph below with the P in the graph above.


The trend was still visible for the 5 metres, that the stronger men sprinted faster, but the relationship was not statistically significant.

Athletes for whom sprint capability is important could improve their performance by doing squats, the researchers speculate. “A substantial commitment to increased squat strength has a high likelihood of contributing to increased on-field sprinting ability.”

Relationship between maximal squat strength and five, ten, and forty yard sprint times.


The purpose of this investigation was to examine the relationship between maximal squat strength and sprinting times. Seventeen Division I-AA male football athletes (height = 1.78 +/- 0.04 m, body mass [BM] = 85.9 +/- 8.8 kg, body mass index [BMI] = 27.0 +/- 2.6 kg/m2, 1 repetition maximum [1RM] = 166.5 +/- 34.1 kg, 1RM/BM = 1.94 +/- 0.33) participated in this investigation. Height, weight, and squat strength (1RM) were assessed on day 1. Within 1 week, 5, 10, and 40 yard sprint times were assessed. Squats were performed to a 70 degree knee angle and values expressed relative to each subject’s BM. Sprints were performed on a standard outdoor track surface with timing gates placed at the previously mentioned distances. Statistically significant (p < or = 0.05) correlations were found between squat 1RM/BM and 40 yard sprint times (r = -0.605, p = 0.010, power = 0.747) and 10 yard sprint times (r = -0.544, p = 0.024, power = 0.626). The correlation approached significance between 5 yard sprint times and 1RM/BM (r = -0.4502, p = 0.0698, power = 0.4421). Subjects were then divided into those above 1RM/BM of 2.10 and below 1RM/BM of 1.90. Subjects with a 1RM/BM above 2.10 had statistically significantly lower sprint times at 10 and 40 yards in comparison with those subjects with a 1RM/BM ratio below 1.90. This investigation provides additional evidence of the possible importance of maximal squat strength relative to BM concerning sprinting capabilities in competitive athletes. PMID: 19675504 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19675504