Eleven Leg Exercises For Faster Running

Running, a comprehensive form of exercise, is a dynamic activity that necessitates strength, endurance, and coordinated movement. When it comes to increasing your running speed, it’s crucial to focus on strengthening the specific muscle groups involved in running. 

This article explores 11 targeted exercises designed to enhance those muscles, thereby boosting your running speed. 

Each exercise is explained in detail, highlighting the muscles it works and how it contributes to improved running speed. 

These exercises are designed to help you become a stronger, faster, and more efficient runner.

11 Leg Exercise for faster running

Here are 11 leg exercises that can help improve your running speed:

1. Squats


The squat is a comprehensive exercise that effectively targets your lower body muscles, specifically the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core. These are all critical for a powerful and efficient running stride. 

For proper execution, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body as if sitting back into a chair, ensuring that your chest stays up, and your knees remain directly above your ankles. Push back up to the starting position, focusing on driving through your heels. 

Perform about 15 reps, depending on your current fitness level. Incorporating squats into your routine not only strengthens key running muscles but also promotes stability and balance, which is essential for a smooth, efficient running form.

2. Lunges


Lunges are highly beneficial for runners as they mimic the forward motion of running. They primarily target the quadriceps but also engage the hamstrings and glutes. To execute a lunge, stand tall and take a controlled step forward with your right foot. 

Lower your body until your right knee forms a 90-degree angle, and your left knee is just above the floor. Ensure your front knee doesn’t extend over your toes to maintain good form. Push through your right foot to return to the starting position. 

Alternate and do the same with your left foot. Perform 10 reps on each side for optimal results. Lunges help enhance your stride efficiency while reducing the risk of overuse injuries.

3. Hill Sprints

Hill Sprints

Hill sprints are superb for both building speed and strength. These exercises target a range of muscles, including the calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes, while concurrently enhancing your cardiovascular fitness. 

Find a steep hill and sprint up it with maximum effort for 30 seconds. Once you reach the top, walk or jog back down, allowing your body to recover. Repeat this for about five rounds. Hill sprints are intense, but they help you develop power and endurance in your lower body muscles, improving your speed during flat surface running.

4. Deadlifts


The deadlift is a foundational strength exercise that targets the entire posterior chain, including your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back, which are pivotal for efficient running. To perform a deadlift, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend at the hips and grasp a barbell or dumbbells, keeping your back flat and chest up. 

Push through your heels and stand up straight, lifting the weights. Lower back down under control, ensuring your back remains flat throughout the movement. Repeat for 10 reps. Deadlifts improve your strength, posture, and overall running efficiency.

5. Calf Raises

Calf Raises

Calf raises are essential exercises for strengthening the lower leg muscles, specifically the gastrocnemius and soleus. These muscles are crucial for propelling your body forward during a run. Stand on the edge of a step with your heels hanging off the back. 

Rise onto your toes, pause briefly at the top, then lower your heels below the step. Repeat for 15 reps. Regularly performing calf raises can lead to improved ankle stability and running efficiency.

6. Plyometric Jump Squats

Plyometric Jump Squats

Plyometric jump squats help develop explosive power, crucial for improving running speed. To execute, begin in a squat position. Instead of merely standing up, use your lower body to explode upwards as high as you can, swinging your arms for momentum. 

Upon landing, ensure your knees are slightly bent to absorb the impact, and immediately descend into the next squat. Repeat for 10 reps. Plyometric exercises like these significantly enhance your power output and stride length.

7. Glute Bridges

Glute Bridges

The glute bridge specifically targets the glutes and hamstrings, muscles that are central to powerful running strides. To perform this exercise, lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keeping your shoulders on the ground, lift your hips until your knees, hips, and shoulders form a straight line. 

Hold this position briefly, then lower your hips back down. Repeat for 15 reps. Regular practice of this exercise will help develop a strong and stable pelvis, leading to a more efficient running form.

8. Single-Leg Deadlifts

Single-Leg Deadlifts

Single-leg deadlifts focus on your hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and core, while also enhancing your balance—a key aspect of efficient running. Stand on one leg and hold a weight in the opposite hand. 

Hinge at your hips, lower the weight towards the ground while keeping your back flat, then return to standing. Repeat this for 10 reps on each side. By improving balance, these exercises help you maintain a consistent, efficient stride, even on uneven terrain.

9. Step Ups

Step Ups

Step ups mimic the upward motion of running, targeting the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Using a weighted vest or holding dumbbells for added resistance, step onto a bench or a step. Push through your heel to bring yourself to a standing position. 

Lower yourself back down and repeat this for 10 reps on each side. Regularly performing step-ups can enhance your uphill running performance and overall speed.

10. Leg Curls

Leg Curls

Leg curls directly target your hamstrings—a muscle group that’s essential for fast and efficient running. Using a leg curl machine, lie face down, and place your feet under the padded lever. 

Curl your legs towards your buttocks, squeezing your hamstrings at the top. Then, lower them back down. Repeat this for 15 reps. By strengthening your hamstrings, leg curls can help improve your stride length and reduce the risk of hamstring strains.

11. High Knees

High Knees

High knees are an excellent running-specific exercise that focuses on strengthening your quads and core. To perform high knees, stand tall and lift one knee as high as possible, then swiftly alternate with the other knee, as if you were running in place. Keep your core tight throughout the exercise. Do this for 30 seconds, rest, and repeat. 

High knees are beneficial for improving your running form and speed, as they help increase your stride frequency and power.

Final Thoughts

The 11 exercises outlined in this article are specifically chosen to strengthen the lower body and enhance your running performance. They target the key muscles used in running, focusing on developing strength, power, and balance. 

By incorporating these exercises into your regular workout routine, you’re not only likely to see improvements in your running speed but also in your overall running performance and form. 

Remember, it’s crucial to maintain correct form during each exercise to avoid potential injuries. Consistency is key; if you stay committed to these exercises, you’ll begin to notice improvements in your speed and endurance while running.

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