Leg Workout

Balance is as important as leg strength when it comes to running economy. This circuit uses single-leg exercises to improve proprioception, power and efficiency

Reps and sets: Complete the exercises as a circuit. Perform 15-20 reps of each exercise and repeat the circuit three to five times. Rest for two minutes between each circuit.

leg workout for runners

Lunge with twist

Muscles:
Quads, glutes, hip flexors, hamstrings, core
Why do it?
A good all-round leg-strengthener, but also great for balance proprioception – essential for trail running
Technique:

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart
  • Step forward into a lunge position
  • Rotate from your torso to bring your arms round to the side of your front leg
  • Return your arms to the centre
  • Step back into a standing position before lunging with the other leg

Top tip:
Increase the difficulty of the exercise by doing it barefoot – and therefore removing the stability offered by a shoe – or hold a dumbbell/medicine ball

leg workout for runners

Step-up

Muscles:
Quads, glutes, core, hamstrings
Why do it?
Strong quads help to protect knees from the stresses of running
Technique:

  • Stand in front of a step or bench one to two feet high
  • Step up with your right leg until standing upright on the platform
  • Step down with your left leg
  • Repeat by stepping up with your left leg

Top tip:
If the exercise is too easy, grab a pair of dumbbells

leg workout for runners

Single-leg deadlift

Muscles:
Glutes, hamstrings, lower back
Why do it?
Runners’ quads are often disproportionately strong compared to their hamstrings, which can affect running economy. This exercise strengthens the back of the legs to even out muscular imbalances
Technique:

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand
  • Keeping your left knee slightly bent, slowly lower the weights to the floor and raise your right leg straight out behind you
  • Once you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, return to the starting position by lifting the weights and moving your left leg back down
  • Repeat on the other side

Top tip:
Don’t lower the weights beyond a slight hamstring stretch

leg workout for runners

Stability ball hamstring curls

Muscles:
Hamstrings, core
Why do it?
To completely isolate your hamstrings and create a powerful kick-back
Technique:

  • Lie on your back with both heels placed on a stability ball
  • Raise your hips to form a straight line from shoulders to ankles
  • Roll the ball towards you to form a 90-degree angle
  • Squeeze your hamstrings at the top of the movement
  • Return to the starting position

Top tip:
Move your feet closer together to force your core to worker harder to stabilise your body

leg workout for runners

Single-leg calf raise

Muscles:
Calves
Why do it?
Many runners suffer with their calves; this exercise will strengthen your lower leg muscles and leave them less prone to mid-run fatigue
Technique:

  • Stand in front of a low platform such as two stacked weight plates
  • Using a dumbbell or just your bodyweight, place the ball of your feet on the platform and lift one foot off
  • Raise your standing foot up as high as possible (imagine standing on your tip toes)
  • Return to the starting position and complete the designated reps on one side before switching legs

Top tip:
Drop your heel as far below the platform as possible when returning to the starting position

Isaac Williams

Written by Isaac Williams | 85 articles | View profile

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