It’s Day 1 and it’s leg day!
We already run…that strengthens our legs enough right?
Running does make your legs stronger than if you were just walking or simply sitting on the couch. Whether you are running sprints or distance, you’re building muscular strength and/or endurance, but that is no excuse for not taking better care of your legs with strength training! Especially is you want to keep running on them for years to come!
In fact, of all the things that influence your running, strength training is one of the biggest factors that will impact your health, fitness, and performance.
A lot of runners, both male and female, do weight and resistance training for their upper-body but completely blow off lower-body weight training because they believe that running is enough to strengthen their legs. The reality is, running alone isn’t the best way to strengthen and maintain your legs for life.
Strength training the lower body gives you strength, stability, balance, and added support for running. It can also prevent injury.
The major muscle groups we use in sprinting or distance are the calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Your upper body including your arms, shoulders and low back are recruited for momentum and stability and we know our core is what holds it all together. A weak core, which includes our hips, can lead to all kinds of running injuries.
We’ll talk about our core upper body another day….today it’s all about the legs!
Depending on what kind of running you are doing (sprints or distance) you are either conditioning muscular strength or muscular endurance in your legs. Essentially, your body contains 2 different types of muscle fibers:
Type I (Slow Twitch): Your body uses its slow twitch muscle fibers to run distances. Slow twitch fibers aren’t as strong as Type II fibers, but can work for extended periods of time without fatiguing.
Type II (Fast Twitch): These are the muscle fibers you recruit when you are running faster. They are strong and explosive, but fatigue quickly.
We our working our legs in order to strengthen those Type I & Type II muscle fibers and give them the power to fire when we need them.
Day 1 exercises: Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes, and Calves – Sets = 2 – 3 x 10
- Single Leg Balance
- Pistol Squats
- :60 Wall Sit
If you are running today, throw in the wall sit immediately after your run when your legs are fatigued. Great time to build strength!
You are probably already familiar with these exercises. They will fire up all the important muscles in our legs when done correctly. Check out the how to videos below for a reminder on form.
Squats: Chances are you’ve done a squat, but have you really done one correctly? Before even grabbing a set of dumbbells or trying a squat variation, watch this video to make sure your form is on point. You’ll learn what the body should look and feel like during a squat and what other exercises can help you master this one correctly. But, most importantly, you’ll be saving yourself from major injury.
Single Leg Balance: Great exercise to strengthen our glutes and lengthen our hamstrings and calf muscles!
Pistol Squats: This is a longer video but a REALLY good one if you’ve never attempted a Pistol Squat before. These are tough…so start high and work your way down to a lower position. Everything little bit counts!
Wall Sit: The wall sit is a really great exercise to target the entire thigh area, your quad, your inner thigh, the back of the leg, the hamstring, and your glutes.