If you like long distance running, like I do, you know that you need strong, fast legs, but you also know that being light makes endurance runs easier and more forgiving on the joints. In my training experience, I have tried to focus on strength while not adding too much mass.
Here are some of the typical exercises I do on a leg training day:
Bulgarian split squats:
You can do these with or without weights. I prefer holding 2 15-17 lbs dumbbells, one in each hand.
- stand in split stance with your back leg elevated on something like a step or a bench. It is recommended not to elevate your foot much more than about three feet. While in this position, shift your weight slightly forward so your front leg does all the work.
- Keep your front foot flat on the ground and lower your body until your knee touches or comes very close to the floor.
- Push yourself back up to the starting position with all of the force being generated through your front leg. All the work should be done by the front leg.
Place right foot in the middle of step and step up as you balance your body for 1-2 seconds on the right leg. Your left leg should be behind your body to help stabilize your weight as it is shifting. Step down with your left leg first and continue on down with your right. Try for 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions for each leg.
I like to do a variation of these, holding 12 lbs weights in each hand, lifting the free leg to a full knee lift, thigh parallel to the ground and in a 90 degree angle with the shin, arms moving beside the body, imitating a running motion. I repeat this routine 3×8 with each leg.
- Assume a lunge stance position with one foot forward with the knee bent, and the rear knee nearly touching the ground.
- Ensure that the front knee is over the midline of the foot. Extending through both legs, jump as high as possible, swinging your arms to gain lift.
- As you jump as high as you can, switch the position of your legs, moving your front leg to the back and the rear leg to the front.
- As you land, absorb the impact through the legs by adopting the lunge position, and repeat.
- I like to do those with small weights for added difficulty.
My favorite is running a short sprint after these–it really challenges me to dog for extra strength.