Leg strengthening exercises for running

Written by mike biscoe
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Leg strengthening exercises for running
Leg strength can become a tactical weapon through increased speed. (running image by Byron Moore from Fotolia.com)

Strength training can improve your running performance. Include some form of strength work into your weekly training regimen, and you are likely to see results through increased speed, greater hill-climbing ability and muscle endurance that will come to your aid deep into a run when fatigue may otherwise set in. Whether running for fun or training for a competitive event, strength training for your legs can help you attain your goals.

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Dumbbell lifts

This exercise aims to strengthen your calf muscles. Begin by sitting in a chair while holding two 10 kg dumbbells. Slide your feet forward until each ankle is positioned directly below the knees. Relax your back but maintain an erect posture. Position the dumbbells, one on each knee, so one side of the dumbbell is resting on the knee. Moving slowly, raise your heels off the ground to full extension before slowly lowering them. Note that the heels should not touch the floor between each repetition. Complete three sets of 15 repetitions each, with a 15-second recovery between each set.

Leg push-ups

Try this exercise if your are seeking to strengthen your hamstring muscles. Place the back of a chair against the wall. Lie down on the floor and place your left foot on the chair. Position your foot so the mid-sole is resting on the edge of the seat. Your left knee should be bent at a 90-degree angle. Raise your right leg up to the foot so it is pointed toward the ceiling. Slowly lift your buttocks 20 cm off the floor, then lower yourself back down again—but not all the way to the floor. Do eight repetitions on each leg and complete three sets.

Wall squats

Wall squats are a safe way to work your quadriceps muscles without damaging your knees. Start by standing with your back against a wall. Keep your entire back and head against the wall. Position your feet shoulder width apart and slide down into a sitting position. Keep your knees over your ankles. Your legs should be at 90-degree angles. Hold this position for 30 seconds, recover for 30 seconds, hold again for 45 seconds, recover for the same amount of time and finish with a one minute wall sit. Work your way up to a five-minute wall sit. To increase the difficulty of this exercise, lift all but your heels off the ground.

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