Strength and speed are closely connected, and important aspects of training for every kind of runner. The experts at The Runner’s Academy in Toronto know this, so they put together their top five specific strength exercises. These drills are best done towards the end of a season, in the weeks approaching a race. If you’re looking to improve speed, give this routine a try. You can also add some post-run strides to this routine for optimal gains.
Single-leg oscillation squat
Using a bench, chair or even a staircase, assume a single-leg squat position with your other foot raised. From there, do three sets of three to five repetitions on each leg. Once you’re comfortable with the motion, add weight.
Single-leg fast down-up hinge
This exercise involves three movements: a hinge backward, driving your knee forward and then planting that foot on a platform. Also, don’t forget about your arms when doing this exercise – they’re key for maintaining balance.
Keep form in mind and start slowly before picking up the speed. The whole point of a hip hinge is to learn to drive your knee while building single-leg strength. Again, start with three sets of three to five repetitions.
This exercise is best done on a soft surface due to the high impact. The key with the lunge switch is maintaining balance and speed at the same time. This takes some co-ordination but is great for glute strength and speed. If you don’t have mats at home, a level piece of grass will work.
Do three to five sets of six reps.
You’ll look like an upset toddler while doing this exercise, but it’s actually highly effective for hamstring strength. Do three sets of 10-second repetitions, and be sure to focus on your glutes and hamstrings. Start with your knees bent at 90 degrees.
Stiff-leg jumps are great for ankle strength and overall speed. The key to this exercise is keeping your feet dorsiflexed (bent upwards) and your legs straight (but please don’t lock your knees). Instead of thinking about height, focus on spending as little time on the ground as possible. Do three to five sets of 10 seconds.