How Important Is Sprinting And Quad Strength?

This is another Q&A that I received recently.

Let’s talk about your quads and sprinting.

Sprint work is really good plyometric work, because the ground contact time per step in sprinting is extremely low. It’s good training for fast twitch plyometric work.

Fast twitch refers to the muscle fibers that are used for quick, explosive movements.

This is in contrast to slow twitch fibers which are often found primarily in long-distance runners. They account for your endurance.

Sprinting is good for a couple of reasons, and it can even help improve your single leg jumping.

You’re running top speeds, you’re not pacing yourself, you’re being as explosive as possible, et cetera, et cetera.

Sprinting, however, is not a very quad dominant exercise, since you’re asking about quads. If you want to target that muscle group specifically you’ll need to train a little differently.

Sprinting is very glute and hamstring heavy, except for at the very start of your run.

If you’re looking to target your quads, one of my favorite exercises is something called the front squat.

The front squat is an exercise that forces you to raise your heels off the ground a bit.

This is a movement that takes a little getting used to.

You see, typically a power lifting squat, you push your hips out, and so your hips are going way back.

power squat hip extension

You don’t jump like that.

Usually when you jump, your knees are slightly in front, and that taxes the quads, which is why having strong quads will make you more explosive, more bouncy, and lighter on your feet as far as vertical movement.

If you get the front bar, or you can do a back bar and raise your heels, and focus on not getting your hips so far back out.

I’m just going to demonstrate with the following photo.

When you do a regular squat, your hips go out toward the back like the image above, and because of that, you’re going to be hitting your hams and your glutes a little more.

With a front squat, and your heels raised, it changes the joint angles a little bit, so that your knees go out front a little bit, and you go down.

front squat technique

Check out how the guy above is almost sitting on his ankles. His hips are much closer in toward his feet.

You’ll feel the resistance on your quads a lot more, so that’s how you can kind of tweak your squat.

Every squat isn’t equal, so you do a power lifting squat, or you do an Olympic squat, they’re different. It depends on the joint angles.

The joint angles will determine where the muscle tension is placed.

When you are putting your knees more out front, make sure that your feet are tracking in the same direction as your knees.

You don’t want your feet going one way and your knees going another way.

You want to make sure everything’s in line, you’re stable, and especially when you start these out, get the form right, nice, slow, steady, and then you can work into more explosive work.

That is how you can start building sport-specific quad strength, by tweaking that squat, tweaking the joint angles, and getting the tension on the quads.

I hope that helps.

Building muscles is a relatively slow and steady process.

Let’s just call it a steady progress kind of thing, so you have to make small incremental improvements over time.

Get it going!

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