A number of studies have investigated the relationship between strength and sprint performance, demonstrating that, in general, stronger athletes perform better during sprint performances (Baker and Nance, 1999; Hori et al., 2008; Comfort et al., 2012). This may be explained by the fact that peak ground reaction forces and impulse are strong determinants of sprint performance (Weyand et al., 2000).
Studies have used various methods to assess strength; including isokinetics (Blazevich and Jenkins, 1998), machine squats (Harris et al., 2008) and free weight squats (McBride et al., 2009; Comfort et al., 2012a), when investigating the relationship between strength and sprint performance.
The table below summarizes a few recent studies either investigating the relationship between maximal strength and sprint performance, or the effect of a strength training intervention on sprint performance.
Yes there are limitations to each of the below studies, but there is a common trend – stronger athletes are faster. This doesn’t mean that if you’re back squat improves you will automatically be faster (you probably will though, depending on ability), but maximal strength plays an important part of the transfer to athletic performance as means to an end. Technique factors such as stride length and stride rate should be based on anthropometric and force capabilities. F = m.a – so the force applied will determine the acceleration rate but also how effectively force is applied is sometimes more important than the total magnitude of the force.