Squat technique for sprinters

Which technique should we follow for squatting - that of oly lifters, power lifters, bodybuilders? Dr. squat states that power lifters should squat with greater forward lean and less knee flexion than athletes.

Does anyone have any links to good diagrams for squatting technique reltive to sprinters?

Thanks in advance.

Full Squats for a couple of reasons

  1. Weight training is for general neural adaptation to carry over to sprinting, so there is not sprinting specific movement

  2. Specific adaptation to sprinting that are gained through weight training are the strengthening of specific muscles used in sprinting through functional structural hypertrophy(hip extensors) and full squat involve the hamstrings and glutes more than any other squat because of their depth. As well low box squats would be a good choice.

There is no one best method, only optimal methods at certain times. It is for this reason that two individuals who run the same time for the 100 may have different max squat lifts. Sprinter A may full squat 400, in contrast to sprinter B who full squats 450. Sprinter A has better RFD (which may translate into better acceleration to max speed), whereas, sprinter B has higher max strength (which may translate into a more explosive start).

The olympic high bar, ass to calves, back squat is a quad/glute dominant lift.

The low bar powerlifting squat, is a low back, hip/glute/hamstring dominant lift. The lower bar position decreases the length of the moment arm (between the bar and the hips) thus allowing for better leverage and heavier lifts.

Each athlete must assess his or her own individual weaknesses in order to implement the optimal means and methods of training.

When the site is up again check out www.irongame.com they have a load of video on powerlifting. Until then, do a search on www.google.com and you will discover that there is a lot of video out there that may be downloaded.
James Smith

Cheers for the replies.

I have been having a debate with a training partner over the squat. He states that the knees should hardly move forward over the feet and that most of the movement should be taking the hips backwards and down…this would mean a great deal of back flexion to couterbalance the movement (this as in powerlifting).

I am arguing that I would prefer to create a greater angle at the knees to prevent the need for such back flexion (forward lean) to couterbalance, since this may avoid back injury. I have had neural refered pronlems from my lumbar region due to too much lumbar stress. Perhaps I should spend time strengthening my lumbar region first and then my back may be suitable for such lifting, but since we are sprinters and not powerlifters I have not opted for this. Thoughts?

1.The full squat also hits the hammies, but really using both to fight off accomodation and with both RFD and Limit Strength would be appropriate.

2.Or you could use them in before doing an explosive exercise(jump squat) and this would cover both areas as the heavy squatting would potentiate one for the jump squats.

3.The use of contrasting methods will lead to better output, adaptations, and carryover.

Numba - Rotating exercises will not allow you to sustain high intensity lifting significantly longer than fixed exercises. Westside change the DEPTH of their squatting which is very different from using a completely new technique (i.e. full Vs power). Having to adapt to a significantly different movement pattern stretches the (limited) adaptation capacity of the athlete. Additionally the athlete is exposed to a conditioning risk and will have to ‘(re)learn’ the exercise before they can apply high forces.

From memory, on their Max Effort Squat/Deadlift day, Westside perform mainly a good morning variation.

They split it approximately:

60-70% - good morning variations.
20-30% - low box squat variations.
10% - pulls.

Percent Training: What is it really?
By Louie Simmons
In the squat, what is too heavy to train with and too light to train with? In Russia, much research revealed that 65-82.5% of a 1 rep max is best to build strength in the squat. They suggest 2-6 reps per set. At Westside Barbell we do sets of 2 for 2 important reasons. One, more than 2 reps tends Cause bicipital tendonitis and shoulder discomfort. This pain is commonly felt while benching but, in fact, comes from squatting. The bar shifts to some degree, causing damage. Having your hands spaced too close on the bar may also be the culprit. Two, in a power meet, we don’t do reps so if we do 12 sets of 2 reps we are getting 12 first reps per workout. If you do 4 sets of six reps, then you get only 4 first reps. The velocity-force curve shows that weights can actually move too fast (weights below 65%) or too slow (weights above 82.5) . By staying within this percent range, we are continuously working with poundages that provide both adequate velocity and force to produce record-breaking squats. The multiset system with submaximal weights is referred to as the dynamic method. It produces maximum explosive force as well as maximum velocity. It is one thing to be quite strong and quite another thing to display it. This is important to sports teams if the weight room is to be compatible with the sport. Let me clarify one important aspect of our training. On our squat/deadlift special exercise day we train with a revolving system of exercises that are switched ever 2-4 weeks. We will work up to a top single (100%+) in a particular lift, for example, the box squat 3 inches above parallel with the Safety Squat Bar. After breaking a record or two, we switch to rack pulls. Again breaking records for a 2-4 week minicycle. We then switch again. By continually revolving special exercises and training at 100%+, we apply max force throughout the cycle. So as you can see, we have a velocity day and a max force day in the same week. This max force day is referred to as the maximum effort day. This enables us to maintain both maximum force and maximum velocity at the same time. We are able to train heavier longer than with any other system. The volume of weights by percent will make you stronger throughout the year. What’s wrong with the progressive overload system, commonly used in the United States? Recall what I said about the force-velocity curve. In the early stages of the progressive overload system, the weights are too light, too light even for velocity work. This can be illustrated by throwing a whiffle ball. No matter how hard you throw it, it just doesn’t go very far, as compared to, say, a baseball. The weight of the baseball is more compatible with applying velocity and force. It’s true that muscle hypertrophy is accomplished during this phase, but we are trying to achieve muscle strength, not size. As the weeks continue in the progressive overload system, the weights reach the 65-82.5% range. For a while you are achieving maximum velocity, providing that you are trying to do so. But as the weights grow heavier, the force factor comes into play. Slowly but surely, you lose that all-important factor - velocity. So as you can see, with the progressive overload system, it is impossible to maintain max force and velocity simultaneously. An additional negative effect occurs with progressive overload; you have lowered your volume to the point that it can no longer support the work needed to produce positive results at meet time. You may be at your strongest 2-3 weeks before the meet and fall on your face more times than not when it counts. One must train at 90% and above for maximum muscle recruitment, but this can only be done for a 6 week period before training efficiency decreases dramatically. However, by training the squat with submaximal weights, with maximal velocity, and by rotating exercises that closely resemble the squat on a second day, you can stay within the boundaries of the force-velocity curve. When you rotate special exercises, such as good mornings, rack pulls, or Manta Ray squats, anxiety and high blood pressure, which accompany the competition and are present when trying heavy training weights in the squat are eliminated. For most, training with heavy weights in the squat can be so stressful that ones adrenaline level drops drastically. Another negative aspect of progressive overload is that you must always drop assistance work at the end of the cycle, even though these are the exercises that made you strong in the first place. When you stop doing special exercises, their effect is lost in a few weeks, sometimes a few days. So, for the most part, they must be maintained as close to the contest time as possible. Large muscle groups recover in roughly 72 hours; small muscles, in 24 hours. We do our heavy squat and deadlift work on Monday. It never has a negative effect on our Friday squat workout. Therefore, there is no reason to reduce the work done on Monday when the contest is, in fact, a day or two later than our regular squat day. As far as deadlifting goes, we seldom do it. But when we do, we do multiple singles with very short rest periods (30 seconds). We start with 60% for 15 singles. During the minicycle the number of lifts decreases as the percentage increases. Use only one weight per workout. The top percent is roughly 85% and the lifts are reduced to 6-8 singles. If you do this type of training, jump about 5% a week. I recommend that only lifters built to deadlift do this cycle. You must be very explosive on each lift. For example, if you pull a max 700 pounds and you are using 70%, or 490, you must exert 700 pounds or more of force when pulling the weight. Yes, with submaximal weight you can exert more force than is actually on the bar. This is not possible when you do a max triple of 670 when your max is 700. If there was a force meter on the bar with 670, it may surprise you that not one rep would equal 700 pounds. This also explains why a particular lifter can perform 2 reps with 800, yet can do only 800 at a contest. His body can maintain 800 pounds of force for a period that allows two reps. But because of the slow bar movement, there is a lack of adequate velocity to lift the additional 30-40 pounds on the bar at the meet. Box squatting on squat day works as the velocity day for the deadlift. On deadlift day, we do a combination of max singles and max reps on a variety of exercises, such as four types of good mornings, five types of squats, five methods of pulls, and an array of exercises for the low back and abs. We may also do static work and isokinetic work. Special exercises with special devices allow maximum speed at the beginning of the lift and maximum overload at the top portion. Let us review. When using percent training, one can control volume, keeping it constant throughout the yearly cycle. Speed work and maximum weight can be incorporated into the workout, unlike the progressive overload method, where one is sacrificed for the other. A very important aspect is that special exercises can be maintained throughout the yearly cycle, as well as during the time leading up to the contest. Percent training is far less demanding psychologically, reducing anxiety and stress and keeping blood pressure from rising too high. By constantly breaking gym records in special exercises, confidence is built and a sense of well-being is maintained leading up to the contest. A book entitled “Science and Practice of Strength Training” by Vladimir Zatsiorsky may help clarify many of the points discussed here (1-800-747-4457). We qualified 10 lifters for the WPC Worlds by training with these guidelines. We welcome potential world champions to move to the Columbus area and train with us. Interested and qualified lifters should send their resumes to Westside Barbell

Numba - Rotating exercises will not allow you to sustain high intensity lifting significantly longer than fixed exercises. Westside change the DEPTH of their squatting which is very different from using a completely new technique (i.e. full Vs power). Having to adapt to a significantly different movement pattern stretches the (limited) adaptation capacity of the athlete. Additionally the athlete is exposed to a conditioning risk and will have to ‘(re)learn’ the exercise before they can apply high forces.

David W,

  1. I thought that was the purpose of exercise rotation, to fight off accomodation, and as for an athlete their goal is not to push the most weight in a certain exercise, but to benefeit from the neural and structural adaptations it causes so it covers a broader range of neural movements, so wouldnt this be a positive thing?

2.Westside never changes the DE exercise, so technically they are using the idea of repeating a movement(and becuase of the high speed it hleps with max strength as well) to neurally become more efficient at it, so they dont really have to relearn the exercise as its performed in high volume at least once a week, at least thatd be my understanding.

Let me say this very clearly:

My practical experience, (supported by Fry’s research) suggests lifting >90% should be severely limited.

Be wary of straight copying others. The Bulgarians lift ‘training’ maximums 12 or more sessions a week. Who on the forum would consider doing that?

Understand squat depth but still don’t understand angles at the knee and pelvis.

Anyway, what is the point of moving light weights such as 65% fast in terms of max strength? Does it really help?

David W,

  1. I go to above 90% every three weeks, and arent we all building what we do off of the findings of other? I build to a 3RM(which is actually my 5RM so as to provide a buffer for relative intensity as you wrote about), only building to a 1RM of around 95% every 3 weeks

2.Immediately following this week(where I build to around 95% of 1RM) is an unloading week, and I think that is a very plausible idea and stays within boundries, No?


1.Lifting fast is a helps develop RFD which has a carryover to max strength in that it allows you to summon your strength quicker and this also carries over to sprintings because in sprinting RFD is key. Its mostly a neural improvement, training your nervous system to fire faster.

  1. An example, two lifters both max out at 500lbs in the squat. Lifter 1 lifts the weight in 1.2 sec, Lifter 2 in 2.2 sec. Lifter 1 has more RFD and the carryover to other activites(ie sprinting, jumping) is likely to be higher.

Numba, I can see how RFD increases max strength then, but will it really carry over to the track since the adaptions are mainly neural? The argument being that neural firing is too specific to carry over to track from weights.


Yes because with every specifc neural firing rate increase, there is a general one, smaller, but its there.

Surely lifting 90% as fast as possible will provide as fast neural firing rate as lifting a lower %, if not faster???


From a scientific and logical standpoint yes, but from actual eperimentation higher RFD is developed through lifting the load with speed. Using both the contrasting methods(limit strength and explosive exercises, ie the conjugate method) will provide for the best results. For example

  1. Use a limit strength exercise(ME squat) followed by an explosive exercise(dynamic or explosive, jump squat). The contrasting methods produce best results as proven over and over

2.Again, while in theory trying to move the weight fast should give for higher neural firing rates, from my experience and research Ive seen and experience of others, this does not hold true, but lighter loads with more speed develop RFD to a much greater extent.

If you are a sprinter, don’t worry about RFD in the weight room. You get plenty of RFD training on the track. You can use your weight sessions to focus on the other end of the F-V curve.