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The relationship between lower body strength and sprint performance

Sprint performance is a vital aspect to many team and individual sports. The ability to sprint over short distances of 10-40m is a performance predictor for many sports.

Several research studies have found that not only is lower body strength correlated with sprint performance but increases in lower body strength have a positive transfer effect to sprint performance. This means that if you are stronger in exercises such as the squat, you will sprint faster, and if you have not previously done any lower body resistance training and start participating in this type of training, then your sprint times will improve.


The relationship between lower body strength and sprint performance is due to:
Those with greater lower body strength can produce a higher peak ground reaction force.
Those with greater lower body strength have a greater rate of force development during the foot strike in running.
Both peak ground reaction force and rate of force development are contributors to sprint speed.

Type of training

Most of the research surrounding strength and sprint performance focuses on the back squat, one of the primary lower body lifts. Back squat strength has been shown to positively correlate to sprint performance in a number of sports including rugby, soccer and track and field. Leg strength exercises such as lunges and leg press are also good additions to strength training. There is also research that shows that strength-power based movements, such as the jump squat and countermovement jump are beneficial in improving sprint performance.
Your best bet is to see a professional to get a tailored strength and conditioning program to improve sprint performance, and to ensure that you are performing the exercises correctly. In elite athletes, strength training is normally performed in periodised blocks throughout the season, which means they are not always doing heavy squats or power-based exercises. This is an important consideration for how strength training may impact sprint performance, so seeing a professional is important.
Book an appointment at Coast Sport by calling (02) 4356 2588 or book online via the button below.

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Disclaimer: The information on this page is for informational purposes only. Do not start new exercises without the recommendation of a professional.