8 Lower Body Strength Exercises To Improve Your Running

are you ready to unlock your full running potential by strengthening your lower body? Whether you’re aiming for a new personal best or simply looking to improve your overall performance, incorporating targeted lower body strength training into your routine is essential. At One Life, we’re passionate about helping busy adults like you reach your goals and maximize your running success. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the importance of lower body strength for running and provide you with a variety of exercises to add to your training to help you run faster, stronger, and with greater endurance than ever before!

Why Lower Body Strength Matters for Running:

Your lower body serves as the powerhouse behind every stride you take while running. Strong legs, hips, and glutes not only generate the propulsion needed to propel you forward but also provide stability, support, and shock absorption to handle the demands of different terrains and distances. By strengthening your lower body muscles, you’ll improve your running mechanics, increase your speed and efficiency, and reduce your risk of injury, allowing you to run with confidence and ease.

Key Lower Body Muscles for Running:

Quads: Located on the front of your thighs, the quadriceps are responsible for extending your knee and propelling you forward during each stride. Strong quads help you generate power and speed, especially during uphill climbs and sprinting.

Hammies: The hamstrings are located on the back of your thighs and work in conjunction with your quadriceps to control your leg movement and absorb impact while running. Strong hamstrings improve your running efficiency and reduce the risk of muscle imbalances and injuries.

Glutes (butt): As the largest muscle in your body, the glutes play a crucial role in hip extension, stability, and helps drive you forward during running. Strong glutes help you maintain proper form, generate power, and prevent excessive strain on your lower back and knees.

Calves: The calf muscles, including the gastrocnemius and soleus, are responsible for plantar flexion of the ankle and providing power during push-off. Strong calves contribute to efficient stride mechanics, ankle stability, and shock absorption on uneven surfaces.

Lower Body Strength Exercises for Running:

  1. Squats:

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointing slightly outward, and your chest lifted. Lower your hips back and down as if sitting into an imaginary chair, keeping your knees in line with your toes. Press through your heels to return to the starting position. Aim for 10-15 reps, focusing on maintaining proper form and engaging your quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

  1. 2. Lunges:

Start standing with your feet together. Take a big step forward with your right foot and lower your body until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle, with your right knee directly above your ankle. Push through your right heel to return to the starting position, then repeat on the left side. Aim for 10-12 reps on each leg, focusing on keeping your chest upright and your core engaged.

  1. 3. Deadlifts:

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a barbell or pair of dumbbells in front of your thighs with an overhand grip. Hinge at your hips and lower the weight towards the ground while keeping your back flat and your knees slightly bent. Engage your hamstrings and glutes to return to the starting position. Aim for 8-12 reps, focusing on maintaining a neutral spine and feeling the stretch in your hamstrings.

  1. 4. Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts:

Stand on your right leg with a slight bend in your knee and hold a dumbbell in your left hand. Hinge forward at your hips, extending your left leg behind you and lowering the weight towards the ground while keeping your back flat and your hips square. Engage your right glute to return to the starting position. Aim for 8-10 reps on each leg, focusing on balance and stability.

  1. Calf Raises:

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, heels hanging off the edge of a step or platform. Rise up onto your toes, lifting your heels as high as possible. Lower your heels back down below the level of the step. Aim for 12-15 reps, focusing on a slow and controlled movement to fully engage your calf muscles.

  1. Step-Ups:

Stand in front of a sturdy bench or box with a dumbbell in each hand or front rack/goblet position. Step up onto the bench with your right foot, driving through your heel to lift your body up. Step back down with control, then repeat on the left side. Aim for 10-12 reps on each leg, focusing on maintaining proper form and engaging your glutes and quadriceps.

  1. Farmers Carries:

Hold a heavy dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand at your sides. Keep your chest lifted, shoulders back, and core engaged as you walk forward for a set distance or time. Focus on maintaining an upright posture and keeping the weights stable throughout the movement. Aim for 30-60 seconds of carries, gradually increasing the weight as you get stronger.

  1. Sled Pushes:

Load a sled with an appropriate amount of weight and position yourself behind it with your hands on the handles. Drive forward explosively, using your legs, hips, and upper body to push the sled across a flat surface. Focus on maintaining a strong, stable stance and driving through each step with maximum force. Aim for 20-30 yards of pushes, adjusting the weight as needed to maintain proper form.

Incorporate these lower body exercises into your weekly training routine to build strength, power, and endurance in your legs, hips, and glutes. Start with lighter weights or bodyweight variations and gradually increase the resistance as you get stronger. With consistent effort and dedication, you’ll notice improvements in your running performance, speed, and a reduction in running related aches and pains.

Stay strong,


PS: When you’re ready here are 2 ways we can help.

1. Come workout with us! Book your FREE no sweat intro consultation here. You’ll talk with a coach and come up with a plan together.

2. Download our 4 Week Leg Strength Program here.


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