It goes without saying that although runners should aim for whole-body fitness in their exercise routines, the legs will always enjoy preference. If you want to increase your times and build endurance, lower body training is of paramount importance to runners.
Here are four exercises that will jack up your lower body training.
1. Calf raises
Targeting the calves, calf raises are a simple way to strengthen the lower part of your legs.
To do a proper calf raise, stand with your heels hanging off the edge of a step, while holding two dumbbells by your side. Take note to keep your back straight and stand as tall as you can. Now, drive the balls of your feet into the step. Raise your heels as high as you are able to, and pause for three counts, then lower the heels down to the starting position slowly.
Do five sets consisting of 12 to 16 reps, and adjust the weight of the dumbbells and the amount of reps as you start to get stronger.
Lunges target the calves, quads and glutes.
While resting a bar on the back of your shoulders or holding dumbbells by your side, begin by standing with your feet shoulder’s width apart. With your left foot planted on the ground, take a big step forward with your right foot, bending your right knee at a 90-degree angle, and lowering your left leg toward the floor at the same time. Push back to the starting position and switch sides.
Complete five sets of 10 to 12 reps on each side.
Squats focus on the calves, glutes, quads, as well as the core.
Stand with your feet a shoulder’s width apart, with your toes pointing outward slightly, keeping your back straight. With a barbell across the traps and the back of your shoulders, bend your knees until your thighs are parallel with the ground. Pause in this position and then push back up through your heels, returning to the starting position.
Aim for five sets, made up of 10 to 12 reps.
4. Sumo squats
The big brother of squats, sumo squats target the quads and inner thighs – and this one will make you feel the burn!
Start by assuming a stance that is a little wider than the classic squat, with your feet pointing out a bit further. This time, the barbell you carry across the traps and the back of your shoulders should be a weight that is challenging to you. Sit back until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then come back up to the starting position. If your inner thighs aren’t burning, try adjusting the weight or check that your form is correct. Keep your back straight and your knees tracking over your toes for the entire movement.
Complete five sets of 10 to 12 reps.