T Nation

Squats v. DL's For Speed Development


Any thoughts on the issue?

Squats are usually pushed heavily by coaches, yet many are hesitant to include DL's.

Personally, I squatted and Front Squatted for most of my training career. Only DL'd the first few years. After that, the majority of my pulling came from the O-lifts.

Now, for the last year or so, I squat rarely and have beefed up the pulling...CLDL, SNDL, DL, Rack Pulls, the Cl and Sn Pulls, etc.

My speed has improved so has athletic ability. I've also noticed that as my pulls go up, I maintain my squatting strenght. Despite not B. Sqting for damn near 3 months, I squatted last night and not only hit my old number, but actually moved up a bit.

So...to the coaches out there...To Pull or To Squat, that is the question. Or, to do both? Periods of both? Perhaps it is an individual thing?


Cycle them. Work you deadlifts for a month, then switch to squats. Also cycle variations, which I'm sure you already know.


Barry Ross (Allison Felix's S&C coach) swears by DL's for several reasons. You can handle more weight, less risk of injury, easier to learn, and more muscles involved. I think he's got some very valid points.

I wouldn't eliminate squats entirely, but you probably would get a bigger bang for your buck with the emphasis on DL's and use squats as a secondary exercise.

Don't focus on your numbers in the weight room but rather on your times on the track (I'm assuming you're a sprinter). For you, strength is a means to an end. And don't forget individual differences.



I know :O) but im not asking so much for me, but more to see what some of the other coaches think.


Good posts so far. I'm in the cool position of bein both a coach and an athlete. I seem to do much better with a focus on pulling, with some squatting throw in....however, take into account that I squatted at least twice a week for my first 8 years of training.


Ideally both, but if you had to pick, i would say DL are best for speed. More hamstring work=speed.

Tiki Barber had his best years the last few years because he started deadlifting a ton.


I'm a 100M sprinter and I've been using deadlifts (snatch grip, off a platform, pin pulls, etc) exclusively over squats for about a month. My strength is going up steadily and I feel faster.

Squats never did much for me, as I always found myself relying on my quads. So, after I made the deadlift my main movement, I started doing heavy Bulgarian split squats. These two have been helping tremendously.



This is slightly off topic, but this thread made me curious:

Do you think muscle Balance/Imbalance issues between the Quads, Glutes and Hamstrings have a negative impact on speed?

This could cause a disparity between peoples opinions on whether Squats or DL's are more effective for increasing speed.


Without question. Read a lot of the stuff by the top sprinting coaches, they are constantly talking about trying to get guys to stop being "push" runners (because of quad dominance) and become "pull" runners who are hamstring dominant.


If your doing squats with the objective of improveing speed and sprinting performance, then make sure your doing box squats. By doing these you will take pressure of you calfs and more emphasis will be placed on hams, glutes ect.