T Nation

Top Sprinters Don't Have Huge Squat Max?

I heard that some of th top sprinters in the world in the Olympics don’t squat a lot. Us that true because I thought lifting very heavy weights fast for about 4,5 reps for fast twitch fibers for fast muscle contraction.

I want to increase my speed for football and I’m still going to do squats and deadlifts for strength but does anybody know what these top sprinters do to get so fast.

They sprint a lot. Honestly. And lots of interval training around sprints… sprint all out, then take a short break, then repeat. Sometimes it’s for 20 seconds hard, 10 seconds break. Sometimes it’s 200m hard, a break, another 200m. Sometimes they do that and intentionally cycle their pace.

But in the end, to become better at sprinting, they do a lot of sprinting.

To be fast you need to have a decent stride length and the ability to move your legs really quickly. Do this and you will run fast, it’s that simple…

But yeah a good power to weight ratio will benefit you as well as it will help fit the above criteria.

[quote]Mr Stern wrote:

That’s a good thread. My point wasn’t that squatting can’t help your sprint… but that you also need to be doing a lot of sprinting too.

[quote]LoRez wrote:

[quote]Mr Stern wrote:

That’s a good thread. My point wasn’t that squatting can’t help your sprint… but that you also need to be doing a lot of sprinting too.[/quote]

Exactly, just by squatting your sprint times won’t become faster. Infact they will probably become slower if you are not careful.

Look for a sprinting program, I’m sure you can find one somewhere.
Lots of explosive short sprints ie 30-40 meters for your speed development (there’s no point training your lactate threshold if you are going for pure speed, thats speed endurance), Leg speed drills, plyometrics, TECHNIQUE!!! the list goes on. Best do a little research into it first.

[quote]JMike21 wrote:
I heard that some of th top sprinters in the world in the Olympics don’t squat a lot. Us that true because I thought lifting very heavy weights fast for about 4,5 reps for fast twitch fibers for fast muscle contraction.

I want to increase my speed for football and I’m still going to do squats and deadlifts for strength but does anybody know what these top sprinters do to get so fast.[/quote]

An Olympic sprinter wouldn’t desire a huge squat just as an Olympic oly lifter wouldn’t care how fast he could run. That’s specialized training and they dedicate their lives to one particular sport and don’t add extra things they don’t need as that would take away from their primary goal.

Do you have access to a prowler or a sled? For hockey my son will pull the sled to help with his start speed. My niece plays soccer and they have the girls do jump squats with the bar. They are not sprinters though.

When I was playing football in HS I really lagged in the sprinting department as well. I had decent explosive power, I could hit hard and well and push guys around all day but I just didn’t move my feet fast enough. One day I got sick of this and started to tweak my technique and literally in the span of one practice I went from middle of the pack guy to keeping up with our quickest RB guy. This really surprised the coaching staff and the rest of the team. Unfortunately we didn’t have anyone who was really into sprint technique to work with us so I wasn’t positive what I was doing differently and so I couldn’t consistently replicate this performance. However the difference was undeniable

Thinking back now, for me it was all about relaxation and good mechanics. I concentrated on on staying as tall and firm in my core as possible while staying as loose as possible in my shoulders and limbs and allowing my hips to rotate through and drive each stride back. You cannot go fast if you are tight. The main thing for me though was just turning over quicker, i.e. getting my feet to contact the field as often and as briefly as I could directly below and slightly behind my centre of gravity (i.e. slight forward lean). Correct breathing, sometimes called the “Valsalva manoeuvre” increasing the pressure in my abdominal cavity also made a big difference on the acceleration phase.

I am not an expert, and this little anecdote has nothing to do with top sprinters, obviously. However, for me this was a night and day difference that no amount of strength training or conditioning was ever going to touch. Looking back I wish I had invested some off season money in going to some dedicated speed camps or clinics with experienced speed coaches. I think it may have made a real difference for me. Athletics is really about technique at least as much as conditioning and yet technique is usually almost completely overlooked. As a result, unless you are one of those fortunate few people who happen to default to the optimal or near optimal technique, technique focused practice and coaching can make all the difference.

EDIT: It’s not unlike on the lifting side when Wendler or Tate or whoever adds all kinds off weight to some guy’s bench at a weekend clinic. The guy isn’t really “stronger” in the muscular adaptation sense. He’s just doing it better.

[quote]JMike21 wrote:
I heard that some of th top sprinters in the world in the Olympics don’t squat a lot. Us that true because I thought lifting very heavy weights fast for about 4,5 reps for fast twitch fibers for fast muscle contraction.[/quote]
As I mentioned in one of your other threads, the less you think about fast or slow twitch muscle fibers, the better off you’ll be.

It doesn’t matter what the best of the best sprinters did, because you’re a football player. You’re a young dude, so you can definitely make some huge progress right now if you get your training and nutrition in line, but you’re seriously overthinking things.

For now, it’s really as simple as: Go full throttle during practices, lift smart 2-3 days a week, run hard 2-3 days a week, and eat well. As far as you need to be concerned, there are no such things as “fast twitch” or “slow twitch” muscle fibers.

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]JMike21 wrote:
I heard that some of th top sprinters in the world in the Olympics don’t squat a lot. Us that true because I thought lifting very heavy weights fast for about 4,5 reps for fast twitch fibers for fast muscle contraction.[/quote]
As I mentioned in one of your other threads, the less you think about fast or slow twitch muscle fibers, the better off you’ll be.

It doesn’t matter what the best of the best sprinters did, because you’re a football player. You’re a young dude, so you can definitely make some huge progress right now if you get your training and nutrition in line, but you’re seriously overthinking things.

For now, it’s really as simple as: Go full throttle during practices, lift smart 2-3 days a week, run hard 2-3 days a week, and eat well. As far as you need to be concerned, there are no such things as “fast twitch” or “slow twitch” muscle fibers.[/quote]

OP please listen to this

TRUTH:

Unless you are running completely retarded,‘tweaking your mechanics’ is not going to improve your speed across the ground all that much.

Srsly bro, hang on a monkey bar and pedal your legs in the air as fast as possible…DAMN UR PRETTY FAST. U GOT GOOD TURNOVER.

What would this indicate(?)

SPEED:

1Amount of force put against the ground with your foot >> 2turnover > 3technique

=

1Get a higher strength/weight ratio >> 2work on speed stuff > 3be mindful of good technique

[quote]Field wrote:
TRUTH:

Unless you are running completely retarded,‘tweaking your mechanics’ is not going to improve your speed across the ground all that much.

Srsly bro, hang on a monkey bar and pedal your legs in the air as fast as possible…DAMN UR PRETTY FAST. U GOT GOOD TURNOVER.

What would this indicate(?)

SPEED:

1Amount of force put against the ground with your foot >> 2turnover > 3technique

=

1Get a higher strength/weight ratio >> 2work on speed stuff > 3be mindful of good technique

[/quote]

Well, I may very well have been retarded when I played HS football but that’s beside the point. In my experience sprinting speed is a skill that can be developed through frequent, intelligent practice. It so happens that plenty of reputable coaches and sport science types agree.

speed = stride length x stride frequency

If you increase frequency as much as possible while sacrificing the minimum amount of length you will go faster. This can be achieved through improved technique. You can be wicked strong and still be a piss poor runner. “Work on speed stuff” should include developing technique/form, especially in younger athletes.

[quote]Field wrote:
TRUTH:

Unless you are running completely retarded,‘tweaking your mechanics’ is not going to improve your speed across the ground all that much.

Srsly bro, hang on a monkey bar and pedal your legs in the air as fast as possible…DAMN UR PRETTY FAST. U GOT GOOD TURNOVER.

What would this indicate(?)

SPEED:

1Amount of force put against the ground with your foot >> 2turnover > 3technique

=

1Get a higher strength/weight ratio >> 2work on speed stuff > 3be mindful of good technique

[/quote]

It’s true the speed of your legs traveling through the air when you run will not be significantly slower than that of say Usain Bolt and what will differentiate you is the fact that

  1. His foot contact time will be significantly less than yours.
  2. His stride length will be significanlty longer than yours, helped of course because he is 1.96m or 6 foot 5.

His ground reaction force will be much greater resulting from the faster generation of force. So yes it all comes down to his power generation. Now to say speed isn’t an issue may be pushing it too far. Have you ever tried running down a slight hill or tried running on a track with spikes after months of training on grass? your legs struggle to keep up.

Please don’t underestimate the benefits of technique. Good technique is purely positioning the body in its best possible position so that the majority of the forces generated from your legs/body are transfered into the ground and not wasted through unnecessary movements and poor stride length. To put it into a weightlifters terminology it would be like trying to deadlift with the bar say several inches or a foot infront of your shins. Sure if you were stronger you could lift more but without doing it properly you will be lifting well below what you are capable.

And believe me the technique of the majority of non professional sportsmen/footballers is somewhat short of optimum.

When learning a new movement or lift we always focus on technique. With better technique we make faster gains and have less injuries. I know quite frequently if an exercise isn’t giving the expected results then often the technique will be the limiting factor. So why would sprinting be any different? If you want to run fast first learn how to run and then train accordingly and you will get faster.

OP if you are indeed serious about trying to increase your speed then work on your technique. Sure you could ask your coash who will be full of ideas about how you can get faster but I prefer to go to where you know the advice is the best and that would be your local track team. Ask them if you can join in to learn the technique, sure they may laugh at you but if you are humble enough and work at it I’m sure they’d let you tag along.

Sure this approach could be seen as extreme, it just depends on your goals and what you would be willing to sacrifice to reach them.

Most important to least important:

  1. Generating power into the ground.
  2. Generating power quickly
  3. Moving your legs fast and making big steps.
  4. Using good form and being …aerodynamic

You are NOT grabbing the ground with your feet and moving across it.

You ARE pushing up and away from the ground with each footstrike.

If you give him $10 a month. That guy Bret Contreras releases a strength and conditioning research PDF that looks at a bunch of different experiments people are doing on sports performance.

Might be worth you a look for further ILLUMINATION.

[quote]Field wrote:
Most important to least important:

  1. Generating power into the ground.
  2. Generating power quickly
  3. Moving your legs fast and making big steps.
  4. Using good form and being …aerodynamic

You are NOT grabbing the ground with your feet and moving across it.

You ARE pushing up and away from the ground with each footstrike.[/quote]

I have a feeling you’re not that fast. Scientist are scientist for a reason. Track coaches are track coaches for a reason. Scientist don’t coach track because they don’t make a people fast. Personal trainers don’t coach track because they don’t make people fast. Knowing why is different from knowing how to get there. Technique is one of the primary factors in addressing your list.

OP the best thing you can do for speed is to check the track program at your school. If they have a good one they can make you much faster. Other than that their tons of drills across the internet, I wouldn’t spend too much time on them since you play football but spending a few recovery days during the week in the offseason can help drastically.