There’s an alarming trend of Coaches who do not like the conventional double leg squats with the bar behind your head.
But for those who like to do the double-legged squats, it is recommended to do “front squats” with the bar on your front shoulders and collar bone, because if you fail at a given weight, you can easily throw it in front of you and abort the squat safely. (of course, watch the mirror and people in front of you first!)
I come from the old school, and I did 2-legged half squats to parallel and managed 2 reps at over 400 lbs.
You can see some recommended weight ratios for power clean, bench press and squats in terms of your bodyweight, my old weight training program, a discussion on how to determine 1 rep max (1 RM), and another sample weight training program from another coach.
Static vs Dynamic Exercises
The argument is some coaches argue the only time a sprinter overcomes inertia from a motionless position is at the start. Once they are moving, then any specific exercise should be dynamic.
Moreover, the same rule applies for Bench Press. I like love the BP only because it keeps me steady in the blocks’ SET position, as your weight is over your shoulders (see illustration below). It’s also a standard testing exercise.
How Low Should You Go?
Another interesting controversy is how deep the squats should be performed. Quarter squats at 135 degrees? Half squats parallel to 90 degrees? Full squats with hamstrings touching the calf?
Some coaches argue you don’t need to go past 95 or 129 degrees, as they only go to 95 degrees in the blocks for the front leg, and 129 degrees for the rear leg where the initial push-off begins (see photo)
You can get a better idea of the start with the video of Usain Bolt’s start.
Optimal theoretical starting “set” position.
Illustration by Derek Hansen of Running Mechanics.
Single Leg Squats
When was the last time you pushed off with both feet at the same time in sprinting? Are you a swimmer? Of course, the Ben Johnson start comes to mind.
Thus, training should closely resemble the action as possible, therefore here are some of the common leg exercises used to develop strength, balance, and co-ordination:
- split squats
- one-legged squats
- single-leg deadlifts
- steps up
- Goose steps
What ever you do, start with bodyweight, and begin your strength program early in the Fall or GPP phase. It’s never too early.