Squats are one of the greatest exercises known to man. They help build massive strength in the legs and core and have helped athletes to run faster, jump higher and hit harder for decades. I’m not disputing that. This article is not meant to malign the squat in any way but it is a simple fact that they, like all exercises, are not perfect and there may be a way to improve upon them in certain situations. If you want to know how, read on.
Every month I’ll be analysing a recent study published in one of the scientific journals on Strength and Conditioning. This time I’ll be reviewing a study entitled “Lower Limb and Trunk Muscle Activation with Back Squats and Weighted Sled Apparatus” (Maddigan, Duane, Button and Behm: Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2014).
What do I mean by “speed work” and why would you do it? When I talk about speed work for strength athletes I’m referring to the method popularised by Louis Simmons, of Westside Barbell fame, which he described as using “sub-maximal weights with maximal speed…to increase the rate of force development and explosive strength, not to build absolute strength.”