Must Do Single Leg Exercises for Faster Running: The Best Way to Improve Your Speed and Endurance
Must Do Single Leg Exercises for Faster Running
Do you want to run faster?
Of course you do! Who doesn’t? In this blog post, we will discuss some of the best single leg exercises that you can do to improve your running speed, endurance, and prevent injury.
These exercises are simple but effective, and they can be done at home with little to no equipment required. So if you’re ready to start running like a pro, keep reading for our top tips!
What are the benefits of doing single leg exercises?
In my opinion the number one benefit is to prevent injury! When you do any type of high-impact activity, there is always the risk for injury. But by strengthening your muscles with single leg exercises you can prevent some of the causes of running injuries.
Any strength training will help improve your running speed and endurance as well. When you think about it, running is really just a series of single leg jumps. So by doing exercises that work your muscles in a similar way, you can improve your overall performance.
There are also some specific benefits to working each leg individually. For example, when you run long distances one of your legs will inevitably start to tire before the other. By doing single leg exercises you can even out the strength in each of your legs, so that both are able to perform at their best.
How can single leg exercises help improve your running speed and endurance?
Running is a repetitive movement of jumping from one leg to another in a forward motion. When you do single leg exercises, such as described below, you are working your muscles in a complimentary way. This helps to improve the overall strength and power of your muscles, which can lead to an increase in running speed and endurance.
In addition, single leg exercises can help to improve your balance and coordination. This is important because when you are running, your body needs to be in sync in order to move efficiently. By improving your balance and coordination with single leg exercises, you can become a more efficient runner and improve your running speed and endurance as a result.
Strengthening programs have been shown in recent studies to improve running performance shown by increases in VO2 max and muscle power.
How do Single Leg Exercises Prevent Running Injuries?
The more common injuries are caused by overuse of certain muscles. Running requires the effort of many muscles working together. Strength imbalances are usually the cause of the overuse. When one muscle is significantly weak, others surrounding the muscle must work harder to compensate for the weakness. Basic exercises such as squats, lunges, and push-ups are great to help strengthen several big muscle groups at once, but they should not be the only moves performed.
Finally, single leg exercises can help to prevent injuries. As we mentioned before, running is a high-impact activity that puts a lot of stress on your joints and muscles. By doing exercises that work each leg individually, you can help to even out the strength in your legs and prevent imbalances that could lead to injuries.
As a side note, muscle imbalance isn’t always bad and everyone is going to have some degree of imbalance. No one is perfectly symmetrical. The problem is when the imbalance becomes too significant.
What are some of the best single leg exercises that you can do at home?
Single leg exercises, or unilateral exercises, are many times a variation of their double stance parent exercise.
Here are a few of my favorite single leg exercises that can be done at home with little to no equipment required:
-Reverse Lunges for Runners
-Single Leg Bridges for Runners
-Step ups for Runners
-Single leg deadlifts for Runners
-Single Leg Calf Raises for Runners
We definitely don’t want to forget the calf muscles! Especially since as we age the achilles and weakened calves become the number one area of injury in the master’s running group!
How often should you do these exercises to see results?
I get how a runner’s mind works, heck I have one! Finding time to add in any type of strength training into your week can seem daunting. We are runners we want to run! But to keep running we have to find the time!
Luckily, it doesn’t take much time at all. Add these exercises in 2-3 times a week after a run and you will be good to go! Just a few tweaks to our training can keep us running longer, faster, and healthier!
Variety and Consistency is the Key to Strength for Runners
These exercises are a great place to start but they aren’t the only option or the only thing you need to be doing. These are just a component of a well rounded running program.
All runners should be incorporating a full body strength session 2-3 times a week into their training program. The exercises above should not necessarily be used in isolation. A good balance would be to pick one or two of the single leg exercises, add those to 1 or 2 double leg exercises, and then do the same with upper body and core exercises.
The most important thing is to be consistent with your strength training. It takes time and dedication to see results from any type of exercise program, but the benefits are worth it!
Final Thoughts on Single Leg Exercises for Runners
Single leg exercises are a great way to improve your running speed and endurance, as well as prevent injuries. They can be done at home with little to no equipment required and only need to be performed 2-3 times a week.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start doing some single leg exercises today! Your running will thank you for it!
Do you have any favorite single leg exercises that you like to do? Share them with us in the comments below!
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Resources for Best Single Leg Exercises for Runners
Richard W. Willy, PT, PhD, OCS; Irene S. Davis, PT, PhD, FAPTA, The Effect of a Hip-Strengthening Program on Mechanics During Running and During a Single-Leg Squat, Journal, June 8, 2020.
Kris Beattie; Ian C. Kenny; Mark Lyons; Brian P. Carson, The Effect of Strength Training on Performance in Endurance Athletes, Journal, June 8, 2020.
Why Runners Need Single Leg Exercises
Dr. Abby Siler, PT, DPT is a Physical Therapist with 10 years of experience in a variety of settings. She has spent the majority of her time treating athletes in orthopedic clinics and worker’s compensation cases. She is a runner herself for the past 15 years and a lifelong athlete. Dr. Abby loves to teach runners how to stay injury free and out of her clinic.