Are you a runner wanting to improve your pace? There are exercises to help you run faster, and we’re going to share the top 10 with you now! The following is a list of 10 leg exercises (along with a few pointers) that will help you run faster and improve those PR’s!
1. Overhead Squat
The overhead squat move strengthens your hamstrings and glutes, which are exactly the muscles you need to increase your running speed.
- With your arms overhead and feet shoulder-width apart, lower into the squat position.
- Your body should be leaned back as far as possible without falling over.
- This will target all the right muscles.
- Raise up slowly.
- Do 10-15 reps, 3-4 days/week.
2. Single Leg Squat
The single leg squat is more challenging as it requires more balancing, but if you think about it, running is a series of hopping from one leg to the other – both feet never touch the ground at the same time. This is one of the best exercises to run faster.
- Standing on one leg, hands at hips, bend and lift one knee (the one that won’t touch the floor) and squat standing on the other leg.
- Your squat won’t be as deep as a two-foot stance.
- Do 3 sets of 5, working up to 3 sets of 10, on each leg.
3. Barbell Squats
Barbell squats target your thighs, glutes and hamstrings. For the best possible form (and to make every squat maximum efficiency) use a squat machine/rack.
- With legs shoulder-width apart, do your squats.
- Never let your toes overextend over your toes.
- This protects your knees.
- Do 2 sets of 10-15 reps.
4. Leg Press
Leg press is another strengthening exercise that targets your quads, glutes and hamstrings.
- Keep your back flat against the bench.
- If you have trouble keeping proper form during this exercise, you may be trying to lift too much weight.
- Never sacrifice form.
- Do 2 sets of 10-15 reps.
5. Stiff Leg Deadlifts
This works glutes and hamstrings for strength and fast twitch muscle reaction.
- Stand with feet about 6 inches apart, pick up the weight and raise up from the hips.
- Bring weight to hips only. As you lean forward to go back down, do it slowly to really feel it in your glutes.
- *Important: when you go to put the weight bar down, bend at the knee.
- Do not put it down while you are bending at the hips as you did while performing this move.
- This will protect your lower back.
- Do 2 sets of 10 reps.
6. Laying Hamstring Curls
On the hamstring curl machine, position your feet so that the back bar is at your ankle, not your calf. This ensures full engagement of the proper muscle groups which is what you want if you’re aiming to run faster.
- Laying across the machine, grab the handles and engage your core.
- Proceed to do your curls with enough weight that it challenges you, but not so much that you have to arch your back to lift it.
Striders are an exercise that you will find in speed and agility training sessions. These are short sprints, usually from 50 to 200 meters long and in a workout to improve your speed you will do 8 to 12 of these. Runners of all types benefit from doing striders; long distance runners do it to run faster and shorter distance runners like football or soccer players do it to improve their acceleration techniques.
Ah, does this surprise you? Yoga is actually the perfect companion workout for runners because it not only tones and strengthens muscles to reduce risk of injuries – it also improves flexibility which enhances a runner’s stride. Flexibility in the hips and strengthened tendons in the knees are a runner’s best friend! A 30-60 minute yoga session 1-2 times a week will keep you safe from injury and improve your times.
Yes, your inner 10 year old wants to laugh at the name. Go ahead. This Swedish word means “speed play” and involves alternating sprints with jogs for multiple reps. A good place to practice these is a marked football field. Use the 5 yard increments to keep track of your distance and pace. This builds up both endurance and speed.
10. Jump Rope
When it comes to speeding up your feet, jumping rope at a fast pace will do it. No matter what the particular sport, all athletes can benefit from speedy jump ropes.
So there are the top 10 leg exercises to help you run faster. It is important to remember that in addition to strength, speed and agility training, you also need to hydrate and fuel your body properly if you want to finish that race. Get stronger, faster, leaner and meaner! Now go work those legs!