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Do Leg Presses Make You Faster?

by Kim Nunley Google

About Kim Nunley

Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.

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Although how fast you can run or sprint depends on some genetic factors that are out of your control, there are numerous elements that you can improve upon to significantly increase your speed. One such element is the amount of force that the muscles of your lower body can produce. You can develop this with consistent strength training that focuses on the muscles used during sprinting.

Factors of Speed

According to Dr. Donald A. Chu, who is certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, the factors involved in how quickly you can sprint depends on your frequency of stride, the length of your stride and your anaerobic endurance. He goes on to state that strength development is one component that is effective at improving these factors.

Muscles Involved in Running

The primary muscles involved in running are the quadriceps (the group of four muscles located at the front of your thighs), hamstrings (muscles located at the back of your thighs), gluteus maximus (the butt), hip flexor and calves. Your gluteus maximus and hamstrings extend your hip joint and drive your legs back. Your quadriceps extend your knees. The hip flexors pick up your legs after pushing off the ground and your calves, which include both your gastrocnemius and your soleus, contract to plantar flex your ankle joint.

The Leg Press

The leg press exercise primarily develops your quadriceps. It also develops your gluteus maximus and your soleus, a muscle in your calves. Your hamstrings assist in extending your hips, and your gastrocnemius, the bigger muscle in your calf, extends your foot throughout the exercise. As a result, the leg press is effective at developing all of the muscles involved in running except for your hip flexors.

Leg Press Considerations

While the leg press does build the strength of your lower body musculature, it isn’t the most effective strength training exercise for improving your speed. When you’re performing the leg press, you’re in a seated or declined position; this doesn’t mimic the position your body is in while running or sprinting. Exercises like squats and lunges, on the other hand, require that you perform the movement while on your feet. These exercises can only be successfully completed with the assistance of your surrounding stabilizing musculature, which helps to keep you on balance and coordinates your movement. These exercises better mimic the demands that your muscles will face during running or sprinting, and therefore the strength you build with them will more efficiently transfer to the force you produce while running.

Photo Credits:

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.