If you're a runner, then you know that strong legs are essential for performing at your highest level.
They support the balance and stability of your body and give you extra power during longer runs or races.
But do you have the best exercises to target those key running-specific muscles?
This blog will give an overview of six leg exercises that can help build muscular strength in the legs for runners to improve their performance and minimize injuries.
Whether it's plyometric training, integrate these leg exercises for running faster into your routine to become stronger and more efficient on the track:
Best Leg Strengthening Exercises For Runners
Listed below are a few at-home leg strengthen workouts for runners that are sure to work:
For runners, there aren't many leg-strengthening workouts that are more beneficial than the squat. Squats are really considered "essential" to many professional runners' training regimens.
There are a number of positive effects of squatting for runners. Among its many benefits, it aids in the development of a runner's ankle range of motion and functional strength in the legs and hips.
How To Do Squats?
- Keep your feet just outside of hip distance apart as you stand.
- Maintaining your balance on the balls of your feet, squat with your hips pushed back and down if you're sitting in a chair.
- Lift yourself up into a standing position while maintaining a neutral spine.
- Keep a straight line from your knees to your toes as you move.
- Check your posture and alignment frequently while you climb.
2. Wall Sits
Wall sits are an excellent leg-strengthening exercise for runners that can be used to treat their knee and other knee problems.
Wall sits, which are closely related to squats and develop the quadriceps and glutes but put less strain on the knee, are ideal for runners who have runner's knee or feel that normal squats are too painful.
How To Do Wall Sits?
- To begin, choose a wall you can lean against and allow it to support your entire weight.
- Once you've done that, sit down by lowering your back and moving your feet forward till you're comfortable.
- Place your back against a wall in a comfortable (or tolerable) posture, with your knees bent and your ankles right below them.
- Hold each posture for 45-60 seconds, three or four times.
- Yet it's crucial to pay attention to your body. Aim for a shorter period and gradually build yourself up if you initially find this too uncomfortable or taxing.
3. Single Leg Deadlift
Balancing one leg improves stability and strengthens your inner and outer thighs.
When performed with only moderately bent knees, the single-leg deadlift makes a great without-weight leg exercise for the runner to increase speed and strength, improving hip range of motion and flexibility.
How To Do Single Leg Deadlift?
- Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand on one leg with the knee slightly bent.
- Extend your unaffected leg behind you and begin bending at the hips.
- Stoop down until your torso is perpendicular to the ground.
- Reverse the order and do the same thing with the other leg.
Leg Strengthening Exercises Without Weights
Let’s have a look at the best leg exercises for running faster that don’t require any weight:
4. Calf Raise
Calf raises could be the game-changing leg workout for runners whether they are performed at a gym or in ordinary situations like waiting for a bus or brushing your teeth.
Your calves are put under great stress each time you tread down while jogging. If your calves aren't strong enough to handle the strain, this could result in injury to your muscles or tendons.
How To Do Calf Raise?
- Keep your feet shoulder-width apart while standing.
- Stand on your toes with a slight heel lift and straight (but not locked) knees.
- Then slowly return to the initial position. Or, you can increase the difficulty by focusing on one leg at a time.
- This may not look like much, but it is a great exercise for strengthening your lower legs to reduce the strain on your Achilles tendon and shins from running.
5. Step-Through Lunges
This demanding workout is great for improving your leg strength, balance, mobility, and coordination.
Also, it's a great way to strengthen your knees and hips.
Joint instability is a major contributor to running problems, but doing this exercise, which combines rear and forward lunges, will help you strengthen your core and strengthen your legs.
How To Do Step-Through Lunges?
- Place your hands at your sides and your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Do a forward lunge by taking a giant stride forward.
- Raise your back foot off the ground and bend your knee till it's almost touching the ground.
- In order to perform a backward lunge, you should lunge forward, then immediately push off the front leg.
- When you do this, your back knee should come within an inch of the floor.
- Propel yourself forward into another set of lunge steps by kicking off your back leg.
- Keep going until you've completed the number of reps in the leg strengthening exercise below, and then rest for a while.
- Switch sides and repeat the same amount of reps.
6. Lateral Hop-Overs
This leg exercise for runner is intended to improve leg strength while enhancing knee and hip stability.
Although this leg workout does have a high impact, use caution when performing it, and feel free to skip it if it hurts your ankles, hips, or knees.
How To Do Lateral Hop-Overs?
- Step sideways onto a step that is just below knee height.
- Put the foot closest to you on the top.
- Get your weight onto your outside foot and jump over the stair.
- When you land, try to put your top foot down first.
- Increase your forward motion by pumping your arms.
- Go back in the opposite direction immediately.
- The landings should be as gentle and quiet as possible.
With these 6 leg strengthening exercises for runners, you are now well on your way to stronger legs and better runs. These exercises can be completed as part of a regular fitness routine or as a warmup prior to your running session.
Remember to always start with low-intensity movements first and gradually increase the intensity over the coming weeks. This will give your body time to grow accustomed to the new exercises and will help lower the risk of injury during training.
Overall, engaging in strength training should result in better performance on the road or trails, no matter if it’s a 5K or a marathon.
Best of all, making these exercises a regular part of your routine can help you become an even better runner that’s more “listening capable” and has greater confidence in their physical prowess.
So be sure to incorporate these six exercises into your weekly exercise regimen, and you'll soon be chasing faster times on your runs.