Are changes in maximal squat strength during preseason training reflected in changes in sprint performance in rugby league players?

Paul Comfort, Andrew Haigh, Martyn J Matthews
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2012, 26 (3): 772-6
Because previous research has shown a relationship between maximal squat strength and sprint performance, this study aimed to determine if changes in maximal squat strength were reflected in sprint performance. Nineteen professional rugby league players (height = 1.84 ± 0.06 m, body mass [BM] = 96.2 ± 11.11 kg, 1 repetition maximum [1RM] = 170.6 ± 21.4 kg, 1RM/BM = 1.78 ± 0.27) conducted 1RM squat and sprint tests (5, 10, and 20 m) before and immediately after 8 weeks of preseason strength (4-week Mesocycle) and power (4-week Mesocycle) training. Both absolute and relative squat strength values showed significant increases after the training period (pre: 170.6 ± 21.4 kg, post: 200.8 ± 19.0 kg, p < 0.001; 1RM/BM pre: 1.78 ± 0.27 kg·kg(-1), post: 2.05 ± 0.21 kg·kg(-1), p < 0.001; respectively), which was reflected in the significantly faster sprint performances over 5 m (pre: 1.05 ± 0.06 seconds, post: 0.97 ± 0.05 seconds, p < 0.001), 10 m (pre: 1.78 ± 0.07 seconds, post: 1.65 ± 0.08 seconds, p < 0.001), and 20 m (pre: 3.03 ± 0.09 seconds, post: 2.85 ± 0.11 seconds, p < 0.001) posttraining. Whether the improvements in sprint performance came as a direct consequence of increased strength or whether both are a function of the strength and power mesocycles incorporated into the players' preseason training is unclear. It is likely that the increased force production, noted via the increased squat performance, contributed to the improved sprint performances. To increase short sprint performance, athletes should, therefore, consider increasing maximal strength via the back squat.

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