There’s a saying in the weight room that practitioners ought to go heavy or go home. But there’s more than one way to perform squats, and a study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports attempts to nail down the most effective for elite athletes.

Researchers had 10 top-tier track and field athletes perform 10 sets of 5 squats on 3 separate occasions. The resistance was heavy, moderate or light. The highest rate of power was achieved with the lightest load, and greatest repetition impulse occurred with the heaviest weight. Although maximal voluntary contraction, rate of force development and peak twitch force deceased with all loads, the effect was more pronounced when using the heaviest weight. So to optimize strength and power development, go with a moderate load.

True Strength Moment: If you want to build muscle size, then going heavy is probably a good choice. For athletic performance, this might not be the best approach. Even if your training is more physique oriented, you probably ought to lighten the load every every once in a while. Just to change things up.

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