Leg Exercises for Runners

The best exercise you can do as a runner is, of course, running. Running builds muscle endurance and cardiovascular fitness, but what is lacking then? What will make you stand out from the rest is how you maximize your body’s potential. In order to become a more balanced runner, training for strength is a must. When you run, one leg supports the whole body, how much weight could that be? If your legs aren’t strong enough, your speed and mileage will suffer.

Studies show that regular Leg strengthening exercises improve the body’s oxygen use which improves overall speed and muscle endurance. Strong legs also mean more power generated.

Strength training corrects muscular imbalances caused by running; it also improves over-all running form and helps to reduce chances of injury. While a full-body strength training workout is beneficial, your training plan might not be able to accommodate the load. In such cases, focusing on the mostly used muscles should be prioritized.

Leg muscles used in running:

  1. Quadriceps – Muscles in front of the thigh
  2. Hamstrings – Muscles on the back of the leg
  3. Calf Muscles – Muscles on the back of the lower leg

In addition to these leg muscles, several other muscle groups help support proper running form and stability. These muscles help to generate energy for a better push-off force. It is also important to include these muscles in your workouts. If these muscles are weak, so is the force generated for the leg muscles.

  1. 1.       Core muscles
  2. 2.       Gluteal muscles
  3. 3.       Hip muscles
  4. Don’t forget to warm-up and stretch before your workout
  5. Always make sure that you’re doing the exercise with good form, keep practicing and master proper form
  6. Start with few repetitions and slowly increase as you progress
  7. Once you’ve mastered proper form, start adding weights to add resistance and build more strength. You can use dumbbells, barbells, resistance bands, ankle weights and other options for added resistance. As you increase resistance, lower the number of repetitions for each exercise and focus on the quality of the lifts
  8. Don’t hold your breath. Inhale as you relax and exhale during lifting or exertion of force
  9. Perform strength training 2-3 times per week
  10. Do strength training on rest days or lighter training days
  11. For long-distance runners, it’s best to do strength training in the early phases of your training plan and ease up as your endurance training increases
  12. For short to middle-distance runners, strength training can be maintained and incorporated in the training plan.

Tips for effective strength training:

Basic Leg Strength Exercises without equipment:

  1. Body weight Squat
  2. Singe-Leg Squat
  3. Single-Leg Balance Touch
  4. Forward and Backward Lunge
  5. Thigh Raise

Total Leg Strength Exercises with equipment:

  1. Dumbbell/Barbell squat
  2. Dumbbell/Barbell Forward and Backward Lunge
  3. Deadlifts (deadlift variations to target different areas)
  4. Leg Presses
  5. Leg Extension
  6. Hip raise with One Leg

Pelvic Strength Exercises:

  1. Side Leg Raise
  2. Hip Adduction
  3. Glute Bridge (can be done with barbell)
  4. Loop Band Shuffle

Calf and Foot Strengthening Exercises:

  1. Dumbbell Calf Raise
  2. Dumbbell Single-Leg Calf Raise
  3. Farmers Walk
  4. Toe Raise
  5. Toe Balancing