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Leg strengthening exercises for runners – 10 exercises you can do at home

Publish date 12.08.2022

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Leg strengthening exercises for runners – 10 exercises you can do at home

As a runner, you are probably aware of the role that leg muscles play during training. When you were a beginner, we can tell that you probably very often felt fire in your calves and thighs. Did you do any special kinds of leg exercises for runners? No! You were running and after over a dozen training sessions your leg muscles have become stronger. And they keep getting stronger and stronger.

Do your legs get stronger with each run?

It’s not that simple. Muscles very quickly adapt to the stimuli inflicted on them, and after some time when they get the same stimuli, their development is not as great as at the beginning, or sometimes there is no progress at all. 

You have to admit that during running, you do the same movements all the time. Especially if your leg training involves running at the same pace. The muscles are engaged in the same way and work the same group of muscles. If you don’t give them next, different and stronger stimuli, they will not develop. In turn, this will result in the following: 

  • you won’t run faster or longer – your running development will stop or slow down completely, 
  • your legs will be weak and there will be little stability – this may lead to frequent injuries,
  • it will be hard for you to run technically correctly, which also means injuries and not very effective running.

Leg exercises for runners – 10 exercises

Below, you will find 10 exercises that you can do at your home or outdoors. You don’t have to perform them all. Just choose 4-5 exercises for one session and that will be enough. Do them 3 times. Next week, you can choose the remaining leg exercises. 

I. SQUATS WITH TOE CLIMBING

This exercise is good for the buttocks, calves, quadriceps femoris muscle, and even abdominal muscles. 

  • Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart, with your toes pointing forward, and your arms lowered along your torso.
  • Make a downward movement by bending your knees and pushing your hips back. Descent to a half squat, so low that your hips are at knee level.
  • Bend your arms and extend them in front of you.
  • As you lift yourself upward, stop the movement only when you stand on your toes, squeezing your buttocks.
  • While performing the upward movement, straighten your arms again. 

Do 15 repetitions.

II. TWO FEET TO TWO FEET JUMP ON THE STEP

There are a lot of leg exercises for runners, but this particular one is good for quadriceps muscles.

  • Find some kind of elevation. It can be a staircase.
  • Stand in front of it with your legs slightly apart.
  • Jump on the elevation, doing also a dynamic forward movement with your arms. 

Repeat this exercise 8-10 times. 

III. LEG AND ARM RAISE LYING FORWARD

This exercises for: gluteus and erector spinae muscles. 

  • Lie on your stomach, and give your arms straight in front of you.
  • The head should be an extension of the spine (gaze downward).
  • In one motion at a time, lift your straightened legs by pinning your buttocks and chest together with your arms.
  • While doing so, pull your shoulder blades back and clasp your abdomen.

Perform this exercise 15 times. 

Leg strength exercises

IV. LUNGES 

This exercise is good for the gluteus, biceps femoris muscle, quadriceps femoris muscle, and fitness improvement. 

  • Stand straight, rest your hands on your hips.
  • Make a forward movement by extending one leg, lowering the hip, and bending the knees.
  • Get down perpendicular to the ground and as low as you can.
  • Be careful that your knees do not come out in front of your feet. Return to the starting position. 

Do 15 repetitions on one leg and then on the other. 

V. STANDING ON ONE LEG WITH A CHANGE OF POSITION OF THE UPPER LEG

An exercise for the muscles of the foot (which are very often neglected) and maintaining balance.

  • Stand up straight.
  • Bend one leg and lift it up so that the hip forms a right angle with the thigh.
  • While standing like this on one leg, begin to change the position of the lifted leg.
  • Move it to the side, then forward, straighten it back, and lift it to the side.
  • You will feel how intensely your foot works, which must maintain balance.

Maintain the exercise for 30-60 seconds.

VI. LEG STRENGTHENING EXERCISES FOR RUNNERS – HIP RAISE WHEN LYING DOWN

  • Lay down on your back.
  • Place your hands along your torso and bend your legs.
  • Lift your hips upward so that your body forms a single line from your shoulders to your knees.
  • Hold the position for two seconds, then return to the starting position.

Do 15 repetitions. 

If you want to make this exercise more difficult, you can lift your hips, resting one leg against the thigh of the other. Thus, lift the hip on your leg. 

VII. CLIMBING A STEP SIDEWAYS

This exercise is good for the gluteus, quadriceps muscles, and hamstring muscles.

  • Stand sideways on the elevation and place your whole foot on it.
  • The other leg leaves on the ground.
  • Straightening the leg that is on the step and slightly pushing down with the leg that is placed on the ground, lift your torso up so that it is above the stop. 
  • Then extend this movement by lifting the leg that was resting on the ground.
  • Bend it at the knee and lift it up so that there is a right angle between the hip and thigh.
  • Descend to the starting position.

When it comes to this one of many leg strength exercises for runners, you should do 10-15 repetitions. 

This type of exercise will also engage your torso and shoulders.

Leg exercises - runners

VIII. ONE-LEGGED TOE CLIMBS

This exercise is good for the calf and foot muscles.

  • Cross one leg behind the other, but do not rest it on the ground, but rest it over the foot of the front leg.
  • While doing this, support yourself with your hand against a table or wall (standing sideways to them).
  • Do a toe climb.
  • Being up, hold the position for a while, then return to the starting one.

Do 8-10 repetitions.

IX. LEG RISE WHEN LYING DOWN

This exercise is good for the leg abductor muscle.

  • Lie on your side.
  • Place one hand under your head, and support yourself at chest level with the other hand.
  • Lift your leg up and then lower it.

Do 15 repetitions for each leg.

This exercise can be slightly modified to exercise the adductor muscles as well. To do this, bend the upper leg at the knee at the right angle. The hip with the thigh should also form a right angle. Then lift the leg up that lies underneath. 

In this case, also do 15 repetitions for each leg. 

X. Exercise for runners similar to a plank

  • Make forward support so that your legs are straight.
  • Your arms should be straight, perpendicularly to the ground.
  • You can prop yourself up on an elevation or on the ground.
  • Start alternately bending your right and the left leg, drawing your knees to your chest.
  • In the beginning, you can do this exercise slowly, then faster and faster to eventually start to run. 

When it comes to this exercise, hold for 20-30 seconds. 

How to work on leg muscles?

Diversify your running with intervals, bursts, and multi-directional running. Supplement your running on flat terrain (without asphalt roads). Implement muscle-strengthening training. Of course, it is best if you take care of all these things. Then you will start to see the progress. Not just any progress. This is why you should do the leg strengthening exercises for runners. 

Leg strength exercises for runners – summary 

Now you know leg exercises for runners. Of course, your muscles will eventually become so strong that the above exercises will no longer be a big challenge or give you further progression. You can deal with this by increasing both the number of repetitions and series. Remember that the high number of repetitions is for muscle strengthening. It will not result in a large increase in muscle mass. 

You can also stay with fewer repetitions, and add weight to the exercises. Then there will be an increase in muscle strength. Depending on the exercise in question, you can increase the load through a barbell, kettlebell dumbbell, the use of mini band rubber bands, or exercise bands. At the end of such a strength session, of course, do not forget to stretch the exercised muscles and recover. Leg training is not an easy task, but remember when it comes to running, leg exercise is very crucial.  

Do you want to be prepared for running even more? If so, read our article about stretching calves after running – how to do it correctly and comprehensively. You will find out what exercises are helpful! 

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