Leg Strengthening Exercises: Do I have to?

I have been neglecting my leg strengthening workouts for the past couple of months. When the choice is between going for a run and strength training, running always wins. I wanted to save my legs for the runs. However, lately I have noticed a few little twinges when I run and I know this is partly because I’ve been cutting my weight training days.

Last Friday, I bugged Coach Salazar to give me a few leg exercises. I went away happy with 4 exercises that I can incorporate to my program. On Saturday, I asked my former PT, Ken Tejada, to put together a leg strengthening program for me. Here is the plan:

Combo1: Deadlift and lunges 

Combo2: Duck squat and side lunges

Combo3: Single leg squats & calf raises

Combo4: Leg press and calf raise (Machine, single leg)

Goal is to do 2 rounds. Each round hasa 3 sets x 12 reps. I will have to work slowly and carefully to increase my reps and sets. For now, I’m planning to do 2 combos per session.

I used to think that running was enough. However, when I did my trial workout last Saturday I noticed that I had to reduce my usual load because my legs were shaking half way through the Combos.

So, why do strength workouts?

1. To prevent running related injuries by strengthening the muscles and preventing muscle imbalance

2. To improve performance. A CoolRunning article states that, “Running faster is biomechanically  a combination of increased stride rate and/or stride length. To increase stride rate requires an increase in POWER and an increase in stride length requires an increase in STRENGTH.”

Here are some articles you might want to browse through to get more info on leg strengthening for distance athletes.

Speed, Strength and Power Training for the Distance athlete – A CoolRunning article that offers an insight to the biomechanics of running

Strength Training Exercise – For those who would rather not lift weights, this article offers 3 exercises that will strengthen you legs also. We do these exercises during our drills at TeamBR.

Weight Lifting for Distance Runners – This, I think is a thesis/study. An FAQ that covers a whole range of topics relating to weight lifting and running

Strength Training for Runners – Has a list of suggested exercise per muscle group.

Leg Strength for Runners – Lists exercises to power up 3 major joints we use when running: hip, knee and ankle.

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4 thoughts on “Leg Strengthening Exercises: Do I have to?

  1. I think as runners we all have to accept the fact that running day in and day out is not enough. Along with running, we have to include strength training, stretching, cross training, and massage to improve performance and avoid injury. Good luck with your strength training! I’m sure you’ll come out stronger in the next couple of months 🙂

  2. If you want to avoid injury,and you are beginner runner ,try to run your right pace for starter . If you want to be strong runner and injured free try incoporate hill run 4% to 5% incline 4X 8 sec on the last portion of your easy run 2 times a week. weight training is good for bone density.Running hill will correct the imbalance muscle and give you power . Do more stretching ,because a flexible muscle is a strong muscle.Good luck

    Oh I like this tip. I have been humbled several times during training (and even races) by running too fast too soon. I will start doing this 8sec hill repeats you are suggesting. Lately, Im also incorporating strides at the end of my long runs. Strides are fun! 😛

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