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Football players who do heavy squats jump higher and sprint faster

If football players try to make their squats as heavy as possible during training, they'll jump higher and sprint faster, according to a study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Football players who do heavy squats jump higher and sprint faster
During a football match players run 8-12 kilometres, according to sports statistics. And on average players have to sprint every ninety seconds. It's therefore important that football players are good sprinters. Because studies have shown that athletes sprint faster the heavier the weight at which they can just manage 1 rep, the Norwegians wanted to see whether the results of these studies could be extrapolated to football players.

The researchers measured how fast seventeen international players [average age 26] could sprint and how high they could jump. The researchers also noted how much weight the players needed to just manage to do one squat [1RM].

The research produced the figures below. The higher the 1RM, the higher the players jumped. And the higher the 1RM, the faster the football players managed 10 and 30 metre sprints.

Football players who do heavy squats jump higher and sprint faster
Football players who do heavy squats jump higher and sprint faster

The researchers took their measurements for the 1RM with a half squat: the players squatted until their thigh was parallel to the floor.

Football players also benefit from a high VO2max: a high maximal oxygen uptake. The best training for this is high intensity interval training. Some trainers fear that weight training has a negative effect on the VO2max. But the researchers found no evidence that a high 1RM led to a decrease in the VO2max.

"Elite soccer players should focus on maximal strength training, with emphasis on maximal mobilisation of concentric movements, which may improve their sprinting and jumping performance", the Norwegians conclude.

Br J Sports Med. 2004 Jun; 38(3):285-8.

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