T Nation

Squats vs Sprints

I have always wondered about this, but never bothered to ask anyone, so here goes. I have incorporated squats into my program since day 1. I love them, and they will always be part of my lifting program. I do legs every 5 days mixing things up with hacks, presses, squats, and a few lunges here and there. The day after leg day I am usually a bit sore, but not too sore. A good feeling kind of sore. I can usually tell if I had a good leg day by the levels of DOMS. I decided the other day to start incorporating some sprints into my program to see if it would have any effect on my leg development.

So I took a trip to the park and began doing 100m sprints all out with about 3 min rest in between. If you have never done all out sprints, my god they are taxing on the legs. I did about 5 of these before I threw in the towel. The next day, being yesterday, My legs were so sore I could barely get out of bed. It’s not much better today either. Just friggin sore like I have never been. I do realize that it was the first time I have done sprints in a long time and the next round won’t be so bad as the first.

My question is: What type of fibers are used during sprints that are not used during squats or other types of leg movements? I may be wrong here, but I thought they both used fast twitch explosive type fibers. I have done high rep explosive squats and low rep explosive squats. The same with leg presses or any other leg exercise. My legs are sore from sprints in the stretch position more than in the contracted position like they would be from doing squats. They are both explosive and use the same types of fibers, so why would I be so damn sore from sprints. Do other fibers come out of the wood work when doing sprints that don’t during squats or other leg movements that would cause this much DOMS? Even though I don’t even want to think about sprints right now, They are going to be part of my program now. I just need to figure out where to fit them in without missing out on squats on leg day.

Soreness isn’t going to be brought on by just activating different muscle fibers, it’s a combination of all different kinds of things. Just the fact that you did something DIFFERENT from your regular routine will likely make you sore.

[quote]Sharp4850 wrote:
Soreness isn’t going to be brought on by just activating different muscle fibers, it’s a combination of all different kinds of things. Just the fact that you did something DIFFERENT from your regular routine will likely make you sore. [/quote]

Correct, I see your point. So what is it about sprints that made my legs so sore that other legs exercises don’t. Whatever caused this type of soreness is way beyond any type of soreness I have felt in a long time. The biomechanics of sprints compared to squats or leg presses? The stretch reflex that occurs during sprints? I have seen the legs of sprinters and I have seen the legs of Bodybuilder, and both are very impressive, but yet both were built doing completely different exercises.

I think it would be safe to assume that sprinting will use a greater number of muscle groups to a larger degree than just squatting, leg pressing, deadlifting, etc.
For instance, your hip flexors, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves are all firing in rapid succession when sprinting in a way that they don’t normally.
Also, there’s the impact of running on joints and connective tissues to consider.
And then sprinting will probably put alot more metabolic demand on your body, thus increasing the production of oxidants, leaking of calcium from muscles (don’t quote me on that one though, just something I’ve heard about).

im not sure what caused it but i know exactly what your talking about. when i was doing sprints more(training for track) i would get a whole different type of sore than from a hard squat day. one where i wanted to crawl down the stairs instead of walk because of how sore i was lol.

Sprints superior to steady state jogging for fat loss keeping muscle? have you found that also?

/Hijack

on topic yeah i have felt what you are talking about, I would hazard a guess that the sprints produce more lactic acid (especially repeat sprints) and if you’re going straight home after your done then the lactic acid will set in and take up to 24-36hrs to be fully eliminated.

Try walking a decent distance breathing deep and properly, the aerobic use of oxygen helps the body to eliminate lactic acid it just got from sustained exercise above anaerobic threshhold.

I like how 5x100m with 3 min recovery hasn’t been called up as the reason for tiredness. That is far too much and with far too little recovery.

Once you hit 60m you aren’t really working your muscles in the way you’re after (i.e. you don’t intend to compete at 100m), so try 60m runs with 3 mins recovery, 2 x 3 x 60m with 5 mins between sets.

If you must do 100m then you need about 8 mins recovery, and time yourself so if there’s a big drop off you know to stop (i’m guessing you were crawling by 5th rep).

I’ve done 3 x 4 x 40m with 4 mins recovery, after a week’s recovery that was a noticeable improvement in explosiveness.

[quote]Chalky09Aus wrote:
Sprints superior to steady state jogging for fat loss keeping muscle? have you found that also?

/Hijack

on topic yeah i have felt what you are talking about, I would hazard a guess that the sprints produce more lactic acid (especially repeat sprints) and if you’re going straight home after your done then the lactic acid will set in and take up to 24-36hrs to be fully eliminated.

Try walking a decent distance breathing deep and properly, the aerobic use of oxygen helps the body to eliminate lactic acid it just got from sustained exercise above anaerobic threshhold.[/quote]

It’s now widely accepted that lactic acid doesn’t cause soreness.

The OP’s soreness is likely in part due to the pounding associated with running. You don’t get this with squatting because your feet never leave the ground.

I think you said it yourself. Squats don’t make your legs as sore because you’ve been doing them since day 1. I did sprints and high school and after a while you don’t feel sore the next, just like with squats.

I’m sore this afternoon.

Earlier today, I did 4 x 400’s with 90 sec rest in between. Tomorrow is leg day.

Sprinting also has rapid reversals of direction in positions differing from squatting, if the squatting even has rapid reversal of direction at all.

Speed of movement is also of course typically greater. So most definitely it is a quite different movement.

As an ex track runner as well as football player, I think the answer is best answered with two words: Lactic Acid.
Google it.

Other than that though, it depends on what kind of surface you ran on… you say park, do you mean rubber track surface? Asphalt track? Grass? Turf? Running on any of these surfaces will make you different ‘kinds’ of sore… some more from the shock(asphalt for example) vs. turf and etc.

But I still rest on the different feeling of soreness being that the muscle fibers being torn down(squats) feels different than not having a good enough cool down after intense running, thus leaving more lactic acid in your muscles, cooling down, and wreaks havoc on your legs.

You can always tell the guys on two-a-days, first day of summer workouts, etc. that forgot to cool down. They miss the next day of practice usually.

[quote]HK24719 wrote:
Chalky09Aus wrote:
Sprints superior to steady state jogging for fat loss keeping muscle? have you found that also?

/Hijack

on topic yeah i have felt what you are talking about, I would hazard a guess that the sprints produce more lactic acid (especially repeat sprints) and if you’re going straight home after your done then the lactic acid will set in and take up to 24-36hrs to be fully eliminated.

Try walking a decent distance breathing deep and properly, the aerobic use of oxygen helps the body to eliminate lactic acid it just got from sustained exercise above anaerobic threshhold.

It’s now widely accepted that lactic acid doesn’t cause soreness.

The OP’s soreness is likely in part due to the pounding associated with running. You don’t get this with squatting because your feet never leave the ground.[/quote]

It could be that it is ‘widely accepted’, but I have got to tell you that if Usain Bolt talks about Lactic Acid like it’s important in full sprints, I have to listen to him over you. Besides the fact that for the entirety of my high school sports life(and now experience in college) I have to go with the lactic acid ‘theory’. I don’t wanna sound like I am completely discounting your opinion, but I think it has a lot more to do with it than you are considering.

[quote]HK24719 wrote:
Chalky09Aus wrote:
Sprints superior to steady state jogging for fat loss keeping muscle? have you found that also?

/Hijack

on topic yeah i have felt what you are talking about, I would hazard a guess that the sprints produce more lactic acid (especially repeat sprints) and if you’re going straight home after your done then the lactic acid will set in and take up to 24-36hrs to be fully eliminated.

Try walking a decent distance breathing deep and properly, the aerobic use of oxygen helps the body to eliminate lactic acid it just got from sustained exercise above anaerobic threshhold.

It’s now widely accepted that lactic acid doesn’t cause soreness.
[/quote]
It doesn’t DIRECTLY cause it, but it still contributes.

High rep squat is what 20…30 squats, with a weight you can do more than 10 times which means you do not need a maximum contraction…

Sprint is roughly 40 - 60 strides which = 20 - 30 maximal contractions PER LEG… You do the math.
If you wanted to do a leg workout that could even come close you would have to do, walking lunges possibly a step up with a decent weight and every step of the lunge contract as hard as you can even if it causes you to jump in the air. This would be hell on the knees.

Squatting doesn’t require you to lift your knees upward. Typically that is the main difference in soreness I notice with respect to location.

[quote]Airtruth wrote:
HK24719 wrote:
Chalky09Aus wrote:
Sprints superior to steady state jogging for fat loss keeping muscle? have you found that also?

/Hijack

on topic yeah i have felt what you are talking about, I would hazard a guess that the sprints produce more lactic acid (especially repeat sprints) and if you’re going straight home after your done then the lactic acid will set in and take up to 24-36hrs to be fully eliminated.

Try walking a decent distance breathing deep and properly, the aerobic use of oxygen helps the body to eliminate lactic acid it just got from sustained exercise above anaerobic threshhold.

It’s now widely accepted that lactic acid doesn’t cause soreness.

It doesn’t DIRECTLY cause it, but it still contributes.

High rep squat is what 20…30 squats, with a weight you can do more than 10 times which means you do not need a maximum contraction…

Sprint is roughly 40 - 60 strides which = 20 - 30 maximal contractions PER LEG… You do the math.
If you wanted to do a leg workout that could even come close you would have to do, walking lunges possibly a step up with a decent weight and every step of the lunge contract as hard as you can even if it causes you to jump in the air. This would be hell on the knees.
[/quote]

Your response doesn’t have anything to do with lactate or lactic acid.

[quote]someguyyy wrote:
HK24719 wrote:
Chalky09Aus wrote:
Sprints superior to steady state jogging for fat loss keeping muscle? have you found that also?

/Hijack

on topic yeah i have felt what you are talking about, I would hazard a guess that the sprints produce more lactic acid (especially repeat sprints) and if you’re going straight home after your done then the lactic acid will set in and take up to 24-36hrs to be fully eliminated.

Try walking a decent distance breathing deep and properly, the aerobic use of oxygen helps the body to eliminate lactic acid it just got from sustained exercise above anaerobic threshhold.

It’s now widely accepted that lactic acid doesn’t cause soreness.

The OP’s soreness is likely in part due to the pounding associated with running. You don’t get this with squatting because your feet never leave the ground.

It could be that it is ‘widely accepted’, but I have got to tell you that if Usain Bolt talks about Lactic Acid like it’s important in full sprints, I have to listen to him over you.[/quote]

What with his degree in biochemistry and all.

[quote]someguyyy wrote:
It could be that it is ‘widely accepted’, but I have got to tell you that if Usain Bolt talks about Lactic Acid like it’s important in full sprints, I have to listen to him over you. Besides the fact that for the entirety of my high school sports life(and now experience in college) I have to go with the lactic acid ‘theory’. I don’t wanna sound like I am completely discounting your opinion, but I think it has a lot more to do with it than you are considering.[/quote]

Don’t take my work for it, just do a little research.

Usain Bolt is obviously an incredibly gifted athlete, but that doesn’t mean that he’s knowledgeable on exercise physiology.

Only 1 leg can touch the ground at a time when sprinting, so you are imposing high forces with only 1 leg rather than 2 when squatting.

The one thing that sprints work more than squats is the strength in the back to offset the torque created by the push off leg. What I mean is, when your right leg is touching the ground and pushing off behind you, the left side of your torso has to pull to prevent from twisting the torso. There is a direct correlation between back strength and overall foot speed. Other than that, unless you do squats sets that are extended (higher reps), you are probably imposing force on your legs for a longer period of time.

When you get skilled at sprints in 1 direction, try doing them in different directions. My own personal opinion is that doing this imposes forces and stresses at different angles, like doing bench from an inclined or declined position. A word of caution, if you have a history a ligament of tendon issues with your knees or ankles, don’t bother, it’s not worth tearing something.

Lactic acid doesn’t contribute to DOMS at all. Lactic acid is the burn you feel toward the end of a sprint and a few minutes after. DOMS is inflammation of the muscle where tendon fibers attach. New or more strenuous activities lead to DOMS.

OP, I agree with the guy above who suggested you cut down to 60m. Repeat 100’s going all out on short rest is brutal for someone who hasn’t been conditioning on the track for a while. Also, 60m power sprints will complement a strength or bodybuilding program much better.