Build stronger legs to improve running economy

Want to improve your running? The secret is strength: try these simple exercises to train it.

Get stronger and you’ll run faster! Some of you may have heard this phrase being thrown around a bit in the last few years and although it sounds counter intuitive there is plenty of recent evidence suggesting that those who perform regular strength training can improve their efficiency when running, meaning a longer time to fatigue, improved power and endurance. That’s not all though: strength training for running has also been shown to dramatically reduce the risk of injury in runners of all levels. Luckily, this doesn’t need to be done 7 days per week. The recommendations are 20-30 minutes per session, with three sessions per week. This all sounds too good to be true. Here are some exercises ideas using Technogym workout equipment. 

Kettlebell swing 

Despite its versatility, the classic kettlebell swing is still one of the best exercises that it can be used for. This is a great exercise to help build endurance and power in your hips, more specifically your glutes and hamstrings. This movement also requires some good upper body strength, coordination and trunk stability, which are all things needed for good running efficiency. 

Seated calf raise 

Often one of the most forgotten about muscle groups in the body, when it comes to running performance and rehabilitation, is the soleus muscle. This muscle is important with load absorption with landing during running as well as the pushing during the running stride. It is predominantly made from slow twitch muscle fibers, therefore it has a high endurance capacity and mainly goes to work with long distance running. Because of this, the calf muscle also needs a lot of work to tire it out in the gym. One way to work this muscle at home is the seated calf raise, which can be done sitting on the side of your Technogym Bench: place a dumbbell onto your knee and push up onto your toes, allowing your heel to raise from the floor. A recommended repetition range is 4 sets of 15-20 repetitions. 

Dumbbell Walking lunge 

This is another classic exercise, which people usually love or hate. If you love them, then you are in luck as these are great for your running. If you hate them, then here is a great reason to learn to love them. The walking lunge imitates the long stride of running and the fact that with running you are pushing off one leg at a time. This however is like running in slow motion and with weight. The extra stride, weight and reduced speed helps fatigue the quadriceps and glute muscles in the gym. This then translates to stronger and more durable muscles when running long distances. 

Single leg Romanian Deadlift 

Hamstring injuries are often common with runners. These can occur in all distances whether you are sprinting or running long trails. One way to not only protect against them but also to improve your balance and stability around the hip joint is to practice the single leg deadlift. These can be tricky for balance and don’t need much weight to be done correctly. Try holding a dumbbell in the opposite hand to the working leg to increase difficulty. Stronger more resilient hamstrings can lead to healthier hamstrings and also improved running economy.  

Running economy is how efficiently a person can use its power supplies, such as its muscles, to complete the task of running. Just like how a car uses petrol to make it move. Having stronger, more powerful muscles has been shown to help that. The above exercises can be used as a starting point in building your bigger running engine. 

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