Strength training—especially your lower body—is a simple and effective way to make every run feel as easy as possible.
Adding exercises such as lunges and squats to your workout routine 2 to 3 times a week will give your leg muscles the strength and power to conquer hills and sprint to the finish—whether you’re racing or not.
That’s why Lindsey Clayton, senior instructor at Barry’s Bootcamp and cofounder of the Brave Body Project, put together a 15-minute lower-body workout that’s great for both beginner and experienced runners.
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How to do it: Perform each exercise for 50 seconds. Rest 10 seconds between each exercise. Repeat the entire circuit 3 times through for a total of 15 minutes. Feel free to add weights or a mini band if you want to make the exercises harder.
Start standing with feet just wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed slightly out, hands behind head. Initiate the movement by sending the hips back. Bend knees to lower down as far as possible with chest lifted in a controlled movement. Keep lower back neutral. Press through heels to stand back up to starting position. Repeat.
180-Degree Squat Jump
Start standing straight ahead with feet close together. Simultaneously hop and rotate your body to the left, jump your feet out as you lower into a squat, and bring your left hand in front of you to touch the ground. Your right arm should be behind your back. Jump feet back in, hop and rotate your body to starting position, then hop and rotate your body to the right. Jump your feet out as you lower into a squat, and bring your right hand in front of you to touch the ground. Your left arm should be behind your back. Continue alternating sides.
Alternating Forward Lunge to Lateral Lunge
Start by standing with feet hip-width apart. Step forward with the right foot while keeping the left foot in place. Bend the knees to 90-degree angles as left knee taps floor. Keep your right knee behind your front toes, core engaged, and torso tall, chest lifted. Once both knees are at 90 degrees, push off your right heel and return to standing without putting your right foot down. Immediately take a big step out to the right, send hips back, and bend right knee to drop into a lateral lunge. Press back to the starting position. Repeat on left foot, and continue alternating.
Alternating Reverse Lunge to Curtsy Lunge
Start by standing with feet hip-width apart. Lunge backward by stepping the right foot back while keeping the left foot in place. Bend the knees and drop the right knee so it’s hovering above the floor, creating a 90-degree angle with both knees. Keep your left knee behind your front toes, your core engaged, and your torso tall, chest lifted. Once both knees are at 90 degrees, step right toe behind you on a diagonal. Your left leg should still be bent. Return right leg to original lunge position. Return to standing. Repeat on left foot, and continue alternating.
Glute Bridge Walkout
Lie faceup, knees bent, and feet planted on the floor. Drive through heels, contracting the glutes to send hips up toward the ceiling. Your body should form a straight line from shoulders to knees. One small step at a time, slowly walk your feet out away from your body, staying on your heels and stopping when your legs are extended. Pause briefly, then slowly walk your feet back in to the starting position. Repeat.