It’s only natural as a runner to want to run faster – to shave off seconds or even minutes from your PB and to cover more mileage in less time. And while the need for speed is natural – whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been running marathons for years – it’s not exactly easy. Sure, you can just push yourself to run faster, but there’s more to it than that.
An important part of training for more speed is through strength training. Yes, strength training will build muscle, but not in the bulky, undesirable way you might think. In order to translate those gains into speed, you have to choose the right moves. RELATED: 10 Essential Strength Training Exercises For Runners!
“Runners should concentrate on building power – how fast you can use the force you’ve built up,” explains Jay Dicharry, director of the Speed Clinic at the University of Virginia. “Explosive movements help you activate your muscle power quickly during push-off.” This, in turn, increases the speed of your turnover and the power of your stride. The result? Every step you take is faster and more powerful than before.
How to use this list: Here, Dicharry shares four go-to power moves you can work into your training routine. Each exercise is demonstrated by Dennys Lozada, certified fitness trainer and coach at Fhitting Room in New York City, so you can nail the perfect form. Perform these exercises twice a week, preferably two days before or after a speedwork session. You will need one heavy weight (a kettlebell is a great option), a sturdy box or bench and/or a chair.
How: Face a sturdy box, aerobic step, or a weight bench. Stand with feet about hip-width apart. Hinge at the hips and squat down to jump up onto the box, taking care to land as softly as you can, with control, and both feet on the box. Step back down. Do 3 sets of 8 reps.
Why: Explosive jumps will train your leg and core muscles to “turn on” faster during a run. Start with a low box, then slowly increase the height.
Bulgarian Split Squat With Rotation
Why: Single-leg exercises like this one strengthen your hips for better balance and stability during push-off.
How: Place a heavy weight such as a kettlebell or two dumbbells on the floor in front of you. Stand with your feet on either side of the weight. Send your hips back and with a straight back, microbend your knees to bend over and grab the weight. Keeping your core and glutes tight, straighten up and thrust hips forward. You should feel this along the backs of your legs and your glutes – not in your back. Reverse the motion to lower the weight to the floor. Repeat for 2 sets of 8 reps.
Why: Deadlifts develop propulsive force in the glutes and hip extensors, which will help your push-off as you increase your pace.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
How: Step into a lunge with right foot and lower left knee to the floor so that both knees form 90-degree angles. Keep your upper body straight and your chest lifted as you shift your hips forward to feel a stretch. Hold for 1 minute. Repeat 3 times on each leg.
Why: Thanks to sitting and running, we all tend to have tight hip flexors. Regularly stretching them will improve the range of motion in the hips, which is an important part of being able to build speed.
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