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The Impact of Back Squat and Leg-Press Exercises on Maximal Strength and Speed-Strength Parameters

Wirth, Klaus1,2; Hartmann, Hagen1; Sander, Andre3; Mickel, Christoph1; Szilvas, Elena1; Keiner, Michael4

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: May 2016 - Volume 30 - Issue 5 - p 1205–1212
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001228
Original Research

Wirth, K, Hartmann, H, Sander, A, Mickel, C, Szilvas, E, and Keiner, M. The impact of back squat and leg-press exercises on maximal strength and speed-strength parameters. J Strength Cond Res 30(5): 1205–1212, 2016—Strength training-induced increases in speed strength seem indisputable. For trainers and athletes, the most efficient exercise selection in the phase of preparation is of interest. Therefore, this study determined how the selection of training exercise influences the development of speed strength and maximal strength during an 8-week training intervention. Seventy-eight students participated in this study (39 in the training group and 39 as controls). Both groups were divided into 2 subgroups. The first training group (squat training group [SQ]) completed an 8-week strength training protocol using the parallel squat. The second training group (leg-press training group [LP]) used the same training protocol using the leg press (45° leg press). The control group was divided in 2 subgroups as controls for the SQ or the LP. Two-factorial analyses of variance were performed using a repeated measures model for all group comparisons and comparisons between pretest and posttest results. The SQ exhibited a statistically significant (p ≤ 0.05) increase in jump performance in squat jump (SJ, 12.4%) and countermovement jump (CMJ, 12.0%). Whereas, the changes in the LP did not reach statistical significance and amounted to improvements in SJ of 3.5% and CMJ 0.5%. The differences between groups were statistically significant (p ≤ 0.05). There are also indications that the squat exercise is more effective to increase drop jump performance. Therefore, the squat exercise increased the performance in SJ, CMJ, and reactive strength index more effectively compared with the leg-press in a short-term intervention. Consequently, if the strength training aims at improving jump performance, the squat should be preferred because of the better transfer effects.

1Institute of Sport Science, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt, Germany;

2University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt, Austria;

3German Luge and Bobsled Federation, Germany; and

4Swimming Federation of the State Lower Saxony, Germany

Address correspondence to Michael Keiner,

Copyright © 2016 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.