Does Squatting Heavy Weight Make You Faster?

Athletes & coaches have known for a long time that strength training can lead to speed gains.
 
It doesn't translate for everyone, though.
 
The difference lies in whether you are doing the right exercises for your current needs, and how you perform them.
 
Take squatting, for example.
 
It is an exercise that strengthens your quadriceps and core.
 
To also effectively develop your hamstring and glute muscles, you must squat down to a depth where your thigh is parallel to the ground. They gain little benefit from a 1/2 depth squat.
 
When sprinting, we are always limited by how strong and powerful our hamstring and glute muscles are. They are pushed to 100% of their limits at full speed, a big reason why hamstring pulls are common in elite sprinters.
 
Yet our quads are only ever challenged to 70% of their strength and power capability.
 
So what happens if you squat heavy weight but sacrifice the depth you need to target the muscles on your back side?
 
You see little to no speed development from your intense effort.
 
Athletes who trade depth in their squat to hit higher weight room numbers do themselves a major disservice when they go back to their sport.
 
Going further, even if you do squat with proper technique, research clearly shows there is an upper limit to how much weight you need to squat to maximize your athletic performance.
 
It is double your bodyweight.
 
Athletes weighing 150 lbs, for example, would be well served to work up to being able to perform a parallel squat with 300 lbs. It would maximize their potential to accelerate, jump, and cut.
 
Anything beyond that level won't translate to making you any faster or more powerful on the field, ice or court.
 
Of course, athletes like football linemen succeed more with strength than with speed. In cases like those, continuing to get stronger beyond the 2x bodyweight level has clear benefits.
 
For the other 98% of athletes training to play their best, though, it simply isn't a wise use of your limited time and energy.
 
When choosing the right exercises to help an individual athlete thrive, many factors are at play.
 
For one kid, getting stronger with squatting can play a vital role in making them faster.
 
For another, their time would be better spent elsewhere.
 
Knowing who needs what type of training to perform at their best in one of the most valuable gifts we as coaches can do for our athletes.
 



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