If you’re a time-crunched runner who struggles to find room for regular strength workouts, we’ve got four quick and simple leg exercises for you. They don’t require any weights or equipment, and they can be performed easily before or after your regular runs. Below, you’ll find each demonstrated by Dutch Olympian Bram Som. The Dutch 800m record-holder and a former European champion, Som knows what works for runners, and with the videos produced by the NN Running Team (which features the likes of Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele), you couldn’t be in better hands.
This is as simple as the title suggests. Hop up and down, making sure to land on your forefoot every time. After a few jumps, Som says to mix it up and hop with your feet wider, in front and behind you (as if you’re running). “The main thing is just focus on the rhythm of the exercise,” Som says. “This could be a really good exercise to use before interval training.” Next time you’re prepping for a fast session on the track, test out some hopping before your run.
Hop and squat
Som once again wants you to hop with this exercise, but this time you’ll fall into a squat after every fourth jump. Hold the squat for a second or two and then get back to hopping. Som reminds viewers not to squat too deep, making sure to keep it at about 90 degrees. He also notes the importance of keeping balanced rather than leaning too far forward. Try two or three sets of 10 squat-hops.
This exercise is a bit more challenging than the previous two. Start on one leg with your other bent and resting on your knee. With your leg bent and up, there should be a small gap between your thighs. While slowly squatting, extend your arms straight below you and touch your calves. Be sure to keep your upper body straight as you descend, and don’t cheat by bending your back to get lower. Once you’re as low as you can go, slowly come back up. Again, try two to three rounds of 10 squats, this time on each side.
Like the squat, this is a classic that all runners (and any other athletes) know well. With your hands on your hips, lunge forward and return to a standing position. Once back upright, lunge to the side and back up, then lunge backward and up again. Once you complete these three moves, repeat with your other leg. “Always make sure the knee goes right over the toe,” Som says. Perform this little circuit 10 times on each leg in two to three rounds.