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Do Squats Help You Run Faster?

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Studies show that strength training and exercises such as squats will help a runner improve their running performance and run faster.


  • Should all runners take up squatting?
  • Are there any negative aspects to implementing squatting into your workouts? 

Do I Need Squats if I Run?

Do you need squats, like you need food, water, and air?


But would squats help to make you a stronger and faster runner?


Experts in the running community will tell you that doing any squats for runners is good.

Sometimes runners are hesitant to do squats because they have the image of musclebound men throwing around heavyweights in their head. 

We promise you that doing squats, or any lifting for that matter, won’t make you bulk up unless you want it to. 

5 Squat Benefits for Runners

  1. Strengthens hamstrings, glutes, hips, and quadriceps 
  2. Improves stability on uneven terrain
  3. Gain in power
  4. Better range of motion
  5. Mobility boost

What Kind of Squats Should I Do?

Most athletes start out with bodyweight squats and graduate to adding weight (weighted squat).

Please understand that you do not have to add weight to make your squatting effective.

Too often, people mistake assuming that everyone needs to do the same exercises, with the same rates and the same number of repetitions as the person next to them at the gym.

That is not true.

So what kind of squats would runners benefit from most?

  1. Basic Squat
  2. Wall Squat (otherwise known as wall sits)
  3. Adductor Squats
  4. Sumo Squats
  5. Heel lifted Sumo Squat
  6. Pistol Squats
  7. Barbell squat/Dumbell Squat
types of squats

Starting Point: The Basic Squat

Before trying any other types of squats, you need to master the basic squat. To do this, you start by standing tall with your feet placed hip-width. Be sure your hips, knees, and toes are all facing forward.

You start moving down by bending your knees while you extend your butt back and keeping your lower back straight, just like you would if you had a chair behind you to sit in. Keep your weight on the forefoot, not in your heels. 

Dropping down to 90 degrees is generally accepted as a decent squat. People with greater goals may push for below parallel. Then you rise back up and repeat the motion.

When looking to incorporate squats for runners, once you have the basic squat figured out, you can try more. 


How Many Reps of Squats Should Runners Do?

Most research points to the benefits of strength training 3 times each week. However, there are certainly runners who prefer to limit their weight training to a couple of days each week, as running is their preferred mode of exercise.  

If you are new to squatting, starting with bodyweight squats, begin with 3 sets of 10 repetitions. 

Athletes who are more advanced and lifting heavier weights might lean toward four sets of 5-6 reps since the intensity of the heavier weight is harder on the body. 

The two different schools of thought are high weight low reps, and lower weight with more reps. They are very different perspectives where athletes work the body in different ways, often toward different goals. 

Does Squatting Make You Run Slower?

Weightlifting, such as squatting, does not make you slower.

Now in the short term, you may slow down.

This is often because your body is exhausted, and the fatigue makes your lower body and legs feel heavy when you run. However, as your body acclimates to lifting weights, it all levels out, and you get used to how that feels.

You will get used to running and weight lifting, and your legs will snap back.

This is why if you are training for a race, your coach will have you taper off of weight training as you get closer to race day. That will help your legs feel fresh when you toe the starting line. 

Are Squats Dangerous?

Any type of weight lifting can be dangerous if done with incorrect form or without adhering to safety protocols.

For example, you should not do certain weights without a spotter. You should also try to have a workout partner when strength training. 

Lifting with poor form can result in injury, so get some advice before you dive in if you are new to weights. 

Are Squats Cardio?

Technically, squats are strength training, not cardio.

However, there are some things to consider.

Any strength training can double as cardio if you do it with that intention.

When strength training is done with low weight and high reps, and you move quickly from one movement to the next, it can double as cardio. 

Doing a weight room circuit is an example of strength cardio.

Many gyms run classes that incorporate strength and cardio together. 

Do Squats Help With Running: Verdict

The answer to that is a resounding yes. You should incorporate squats into your workouts to strengthen your leg muscles, improve mobility, and increase your power.

Squats are considered some of the best exercises for runners and doing squats on a regular basis does make you a better runner in the long run.

Just jump in and give it a try. 

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