By Christian Garcia, CSCS
With so many running routes next to beautiful lakes, trails, and the Puget Sound here in Seattle, running is a popular exercise of choice for Seattleites. But running with weak leg muscles/bad form will only cause injuries down the line. If you are a runner (no matter what stage of experience you are in), you need to increase your single leg strength. When you are running, you generally only have one leg in contact with the ground. You have to be able to absorb impact and then launch yourself, from on foot to the other. When we walk there is a period of support from both legs, but in running there is a drive/flight phase and it is all done on one leg.
Single leg exercises prepare the body to handle the challenges of running from one foot to the other. Cue the Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat (RFESS), Single Leg Deadlift, and the Reverse Lunge.
Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat, this movement can be extremely beneficial for beginners as it will develop balance and hip flexibility, along with strength, size and the ability to endure discomfort while training. Best results come from loading up the exercise, huge advantage in the fact that weights can increase with limited spinal compression.
2. Single Leg Deadlift
This movement increases single leg stability and strength in the hamstrings while sparing the spine (like the RFESS). This exercise can be loaded on the same side or with two dumbbells, the single dumbbell in the opposite sided hand will help you get the most out of your muscles. You will not control this movement without stability. Keep tension on your glutes, core and shoulders before you start lowering.
3. Reverse Lunge
The Reverse Lunge is great for developing an athletic lower body, perfect for any sport requiring speed and power. Balance is important to learn as the stability needed is essential to build strength and power. If you are unstable, you will not be able to add sufficient weight to improve your leg strength. Start by practicing a body weight split squat.
If you are unsure how to get started with the single leg exercises stated above, feel free to join one of our Team Conditioning classes or Strength Camp sessions here at Flow Fitness! We cover all the fundamental exercises with variations in a interval setup, meant to burn fat and build lean mass! Happy Running!
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