As runners, we continuously hear about all of the things we should incorporate during training to become a better runner. Speed workouts, repeats, long runs… and the list goes on. However, one of the most beneficial things runners can do is strength train. More specifically, strengthen the legs.
Do leg workouts help with running?
Including some specific leg exercises for runners in your regular training week can help increase your power and performance on the run.
The legs are without a doubt the most engaged area of our body on the run. They take a constant pounding with each step, and propel us forward when our body is tired.
How do I strengthen my legs for running?
Whether you’re a seasoned long distance runner or are just beginning, strengthening your legs for running is key to success during any training season. As you continue to run, incorporating specific leg workouts into your strength training routine will help you stay strong and continue to improve.
Luckily, running leg workouts don’t have to take a lot of time.
This 30 minute leg workout for runners is packed with specific leg exercises that target all of the major muscle groups used on the run. Each exercise promotes lower body strength in a specific area to provide maximum support.
Not only do these leg exercises target all of the major muscle groups in the legs, but they also engage some of the smaller muscles that often get overlooked. This leg workout is a great way to help avoid imbalances that can lead to injury.
Try these simple bodyweight leg exercises right at home, with no equipment needed.
30 Minute Leg Workout for Runners
- Squats x 25
- Forward Lunges x 30 (alternating legs)
- Side Lunges x 30 (alternating sides)
- Jump Squats x 25
- Clamshells x 30 (15/side)
- Jump Lunges x 20
- Donkey Kicks x 40
- Sumo Squats x 20
- Calf Raises x 25
- High Knees x 15
- Rotating Squat Jumps x 15
- Walking Lunges x 26
- Split Squats x 15
- Bridges x 25
- Tuck Jumps x 15
15 Leg Exercises for Runners
This leg exercise is essential for runners of all kinds. Begin by standing with your feet about hip width distance apart.
Bend at the knees and lower your hips down toward the floor, as if you were about to sit in a chair. Continue to lower until your thighs are parallel to the floor, and then rise back up to standing.
A leg workout for runners would not be complete without some lunges. Begin by standing with your feet together, and step forward with one foot.
Lower down towards the floor by bending at the knees on both legs, keeping your feet planted. Continue to lower until your front thigh is parallel to the floor.
Rise back up to standing, step your feet together, and then repeat with the opposite foot in front.
This leg exercise is similar to the forward lunge, except it is completed off to the side. Begin with both feet together and then take a large step out to the side with one foot.
Lower down towards the floor, sending your hips back while keeping the outer leg straight. Rise back up to standing, step your feet together, and then repeat on the opposite side.
To complete a jump squat, you’ll first lower into a squatting position. Next, push off both feet to straight your legs and jump into the air.
Land on both feet and immediately lower into another squat. Continue to repeat with no breaks in between squats.
Clamshells are an excellent leg exercise for runners, as they shift the focus to the hips, glutes and IT band.
Begin by lying on your side with legs extended and feet stacked. Next, bend your knees and bring your feet up closer to your body.
Keeping your feet stacked, lift the top knee into the air as far as is comfortable. Lower your knee and repeat on the same side before flipping to the opposite side.
This leg workout for runners contains many exercises in both standard as well as plyometric forms. Jump lunges begin with a simple forward lunge, but then take the exercise a step further by adding a burst of movement.
Begin with a forward lunge, and then push off from the floor to straighten your legs and jump into the air. While in the air, quickly switch your feet, landing with the opposite foot in front.
After landing back on the floor, immediately lower into another forward lunge and repeat with no break in between.
For this leg exercise, you’ll want to begin on hands and knees, spread about hip width distance apart.
Keeping your leg bent, lift one foot into the air. Keep your foot flexed as if you were trying to put a foot print on the ceiling. Lower your knee back to the floor and repeat with the opposite leg.
Sumo squats provide all of the benefits of a standard squat, but put more of the focus on strengthening the glutes and hips, and increase the resistance in your quads.
Begin by standing with your feet spread far apart, much wider than hip width distance. Send your hips back and lower down, as if you were trying to sit on a stool.
It is helpful to extend your arms straight down towards the floor, and lower deep enough so your fingertips touch the floor.
Begin by standing with both feet together, and simply rise up on to your toes. Lift your heels a few inches off the floor and then lower back down, continuing to repeat.
For added benefits, you can try completing calf raises by standing on the edge of a stair or step. When you lower your heels, drop them below the level of the stair – this will increase your range of motion.
This plyometric exercise provides plenty of leg strengthening for runners, while also helping to improve your cardiovascular efficiency.
Begin by standing with your feet together, and then lift one knee up towards your chest.
In one simultaneous motion, switch legs while jumping into the air. Land with the opposite knee up towards your chest and opposite foot on the floor.
Continue to alternate rapidly, without taking breaks in between. This motion will evolve into a glorified running-in-place movement.
Rotating Squat Jumps
This leg exercise is similar to a regular jump squat, with one key difference: while in the air, you rotate 180 degree to land in the opposite direction.
The concept itself might sound simple, but perfecting the art of a rotating jump squat takes practice. Do your best to propel yourself in the direction you would like to turn as you jump off the floor into the air.
Similar to a forward lunge, you’ll need to take a step forward and then lower your body down towards the floor.
However, rather than stepping your feet together as you return to standing, continue moving to step forward with the opposite leg. Lower immediately into a lunge.
This squat variation is an incredibly beneficial leg strengthening exercise for runners. Begin by standing with your feet together. Next, jump into the air and land in a sumo squat position, with your feet spread much wider than hip width distance.
Straight back to standing by jumping into the air and landing with your feet together. Continue to repeat, jumping your feet in and out as you lower into a sumo squat.
A leg workout for runners is not complete without a bridge. Bridges are very beneficial for strengthening the hips, glute, back and core.
Begin by lying flat on your back, with your legs extending. Bend your knees to bring your feet up towards your body, planting them on the floor below your knees.
Lift your hips into the air while keeping your feet planted and shoulders on the floor, forming a plank with your torso. Lower your hips back down to the floor and continue to repeat.
This plyometric exercise strengthens your legs as well as your entire body. The concept is simple, but completing this exercise successfully takes practice and effort.
Begin by standing with both feet together. Next, jump as high as possible into the air while bringing both knees up towards your chest. Land with both feet on the floor and repeat.
This leg workout for runners is packed with a variety of exercises to give you maximum strengthening benefits. Whether you’re a long distance runner or sprinter, your this workout is the perfect addition to your strength training routine.
Try including these leg exercises once a week for the ultimate support. These bodyweight exercises require no equipment, so they can easily be completed right at home or on the go.