Work those legs!
(This is the second article in a series of body weight exercises for runners. For the first article read WORKING THE PLANK)
Most health care experts cite a weekly minimum of 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise, or 1.25 to 2.5 hours of high-intensity exercise, or an equivalent combination of the two. Additionally, at least two-three days should be used for strength training. A more basic rule of thumb is 30 minutes of exercise daily with one rest day off each week. Two of the biggest excuses given by people for not exercising are:
No time to get to the gym
Don’t have the proper equipment.
The beauty of body weight exercises is that they can be done practically anywhere, and require little or no equipment.
Running is a body weight exercise. When you run your feet and legs are propelling your entire body mass forward. Just as a strong core means faster run times, so do stronger feet and legs. If you are not actively working to make yourself stronger, then you are actively making yourself weaker. So if you’ve mastered working the plank, it’s time to step up your game and focus on your legs.
There are five major muscled groups in the legs, the quadriceps, the hip flexors, the hamstrings, the glutes, and the calves.
Think you know SQUAT?
Squats are essentially deep knee bends which work most of the muscles in the lower body including:
- gluteus maximus, minimus, and medius (buttocks)
- quadriceps (front of the thigh)
- hamstrings (back of the thigh)
- adductor (groin)
- hip flexors.
While bending your knees, you lower your thighs to the floor until they’re parallel while keeping your chest upright. Hold the position, then stand straight back up to the starting position. Pause a second or two and repeat. Shoot for 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
If a regular squat becomes too easy, you can add dumbbells to the routine, or you can always try a single leg squat, but this requires really good balance.
Step it up.
You don’t need a Stairmaster Machine to do step exercises!
Climbing stairs or just doing single step-ups are a very simple exercise. Who doesn’t know how to go up steps? You probably learned that shortly after you first started to walk as a baby.
Step-up exercises are great as a lower body conditioning workout. It targets the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. All you need is either a small step stool, and aerobic step platform, or just a set of stairs you can use. It’s simple, you step up, you step back down, you repeat. Nothing to it.
If you do happen to have a convenient staircase you can run up and down, GO FOR IT.
The forward lunge exercise strengthens the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. They can be done as an in-place exercise, or as a forward lunge where you ‘walk’ while lunging. Begin by standing straight, then step forward with one foot until your leg reaches a 90° angle. As you are stepping forward, drop your hips straight down and bend your rear knee until it is parallel to the ground. Do NOT touch the ground with your rear knee, and your front knee should not extend past your toes. For an in-place forward lunge, simply return to the starting point by bringing your forward leg back as you stand up. Switch legs and repeat for 10-12 reps per leg.
To do the walking lunges, pull your rear leg forward as you stand up. Again switch legs and repeat for 10-12 reps per leg.
Just remember that exercise only works if you do it correctly, and on a regular basis. If any of these exercises become too easy, you can always add a lightweight dumbbell to the routine. Just don’t go too crazy on the weight, you’re a runner not a bodybuilder!
You can find me at these upcoming races:
Be sure to check back on November 28th for another article.
As always, I wish you success and happiness!