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Increases in lower-body strength transfer positively to sprint performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis

Laurent B Seitz, Alvaro Reyes, Tai T Tran, Eduardo Saez de Villarreal, G Gregory Haff
Sports Medicine 2014, 44 (12): 1693-702
25059334

BACKGROUND: Although lower-body strength is correlated with sprint performance, whether increases in lower-body strength transfer positively to sprint performance remain unclear.

OBJECTIVES: This meta-analysis determined whether increases in lower-body strength (measured with the free-weight back squat exercise) transfer positively to sprint performance, and identified the effects of various subject characteristics and resistance-training variables on the magnitude of sprint improvement.

METHODS: A computerized search was conducted in ADONIS, ERIC, SPORTDiscus, EBSCOhost, Google Scholar, MEDLINE and PubMed databases, and references of original studies and reviews were searched for further relevant studies. The analysis comprised 510 subjects and 85 effect sizes (ESs), nested with 26 experimental and 11 control groups and 15 studies.

RESULTS: There is a transfer between increases in lower-body strength and sprint performance as indicated by a very large significant correlation (r = -0.77; p = 0.0001) between squat strength ES and sprint ES. Additionally, the magnitude of sprint improvement is affected by the level of practice (p = 0.03) and body mass (r = 0.35; p = 0.011) of the subject, the frequency of resistance-training sessions per week (r = 0.50; p = 0.001) and the rest interval between sets of resistance-training exercises (r = -0.47; p ≤ 0.001). Conversely, the magnitude of sprint improvement is not affected by the athlete's age (p = 0.86) and height (p = 0.08), the resistance-training methods used through the training intervention, (p = 0.06), average load intensity [% of 1 repetition maximum (RM)] used during the resistance-training sessions (p = 0.34), training program duration (p = 0.16), number of exercises per session (p = 0.16), number of sets per exercise (p = 0.06) and number of repetitions per set (p = 0.48).

CONCLUSIONS: Increases in lower-body strength transfer positively to sprint performance. The magnitude of sprint improvement is affected by numerous subject characteristics and resistance-training variables, but the large difference in number of ESs available should be taken into consideration. Overall, the reported improvement in sprint performance (sprint ES = -0.87, mean sprint improvement = 3.11 %) resulting from resistance training is of practical relevance for coaches and athletes in sport activities requiring high levels of speed.

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