intro flutter kick

Strengthen your body to prevent injury and to get the most out of your running

Why do single-leg exercises?

During the running stride, most of your time is spent on one foot. Following a workout programme that trains your left and right sides individually will improve your strength. It’s normal to have one side of your body stronger than the other, or to feel more balanced on one leg than the other, so this will help to even out any imbalances.

Sets, reps and frequency

Do two sets of 20 repetitions twice a week, to prevent injuries.

 

Single leg half squatsSingle-leg half squats

Areas trained: Front thighs (quadriceps), bottom (glutes), hip flexors (psoas muscles) and balance

Why do it?

This will strengthen the muscles around your knees and hips, which will help to keep your hips stable
during running to prevent hip and lower back pain.

Technique:

  • Stand on your right leg.
  • Bend your right knee slightly, to perform a half squat.
  • Squeeze your bottom and push back up to the starting position.
  • Complete one set on the right leg before changing over to the left.

Be safe:

Ensure your knees don’t move over your toes.

 

side lunge to balanceSide lunge to balance

Areas trained: Inner thighs (adductors) and outer thighs (abductors)

Why do it?

The stronger these supporting muscles are, the less chance you have of getting injured.

Technique:

  • Stand on your left leg, keeping your right leg bent.
  • Step sideways to the right.
  • Bend your right knee and keep your left leg straight.
  • Reach down with your left hand, across your body to your right foot.
  • Push back up to the starting position with your right leg.
  • Complete one set on the right before changing over to the left.

Be safe:

Keep your shoulders back and look straight forwards.

 

single leg calf raisesSingle-leg calf raises

Areas trained: Calf muscles (gastrocnemius)

Why do it?

The flexion of your feet during every stride is controlled by the muscles in your lower legs.
Good contraction in your calf muscles will ensure an effective stride and also help with shock absorbing.

Technique:

  • Stand on your left leg and bend your right leg.
  • Slowly lift onto your left toes.
  • Hold this top position for a second, before lowering your heel back down to the floor.
  • Complete one set on your left leg before changing to your right.

 

Be safe:

Keep an upright posture.

 

front to back lungesFront to back lunges

Areas trained: Front thighs (quadriceps), rear thighs (hamstrings), bottom (glutes), hip flexors (psoas muscles) and balance

Why do it?

This is an over-exaggeration of the running stride, which will develop strength for your normal running stride.

Technique:

  • Stand with your feet a comfortable width apart.
  • Step forwards with your left leg and bend both legs to perform a lunge.
  • Step back to the starting position but don’t put your foot down.
    Instead, move your left leg all the way back and place it down behind you.
  • Bend both legs to perform a lunge.
  • Complete one set of forwards and backwards lunges on the left leg, before changing over to the right.

Be safe:

Keep your upper body upright and look forwards.

 

flutter kicksFlutter kicks

Areas trained: Lower stomach (rectus abdominis) and core (transversus abdominis)

Why do it?

Lower abdominal strength will create a more powerful running stride and will keep your hips stable.

Technique:

  • Sit on the floor and lean backwards onto your elbows.
  • Keeping your legs straight, lift them off the floor and open them hip-width apart.
  • Close your legs, crossing them over one another.
  • Alternate between having your right leg on top and your left leg on top.
  • The closer your legs are to the floor, the harder the exercise will be.

Be safe:

Keep your core muscles tight, to prevent your lower back from arching. If you feel pain in your back you are arching too much.

 

dips workoutDips

Areas trained: Rear upper arms (triceps)

Why do it?

To prevent injuries, your upper body needs to work efficiently.

A good arm swing will propel you forwards and prevent slouching while you run.

Technique:

  • Sit on a bench with your hands next to your hips and your fingers pointing forwards.
  • Lift your bottom off the bench.
  • Bend your elbows and lower your bottom to the floor.
  • Slowly push back to the top, but don’t lock your elbows.

Be safe:

Keep your back close to the bench. To increase the intensity, straighten your legs.

 

 

Words: Anne-Marie Lategan Photos: Eddie Macdonald