Updated 01/16/24 9:44 PM

Single Leg Strength Exercises

Strengthening your glutes is essential for injury free and pain free running, because it stabilizes and supports the knee, hip and ankle. However, most people think of back squats and deadlifts when they think of strengthening glutes, and while these are great exercises, most runners are not ready to jump into these. You must first work on single leg exercises to increase stability and correct any imbalances you might have. By jumping straight into double leg exercises when an imbalance is present, you will most likely increase your imbalance because the stronger leg will be doing a majority of the work. These three exercises are a great way to activate and strengthen glutes a couple days a week before a run.

Hip Hikers:

-Stand on a step or elevated surface

-Have one foot off the side of the box (your support leg should be straight and the abdominals should be engaged)

-Allow the leg that is hanging off the step to slowly lower down to the ground (make sure your support leg is still as straight as possible) - if balance is a problem then use something for support

-Movement should be controlled with a slow, steady drop

-Slowly raise back up and repeat 10 reps on both legs for 3 sets

Single Leg Squat:

-Have support for the contralateral leg (if your left leg is in the air, then you should be holding on to something with left hand) - do not rely on it too much, have there in case you need it, but try to use it as little as possible

-Squat down while trying not to force the knee forward (try to keep your knees over your laces) - if your back heel raises off the ground then you lack the mobility for this exercise

-Keep both hips even - RESIST THE HIP DROP!

-Come back up and repeat 10 reps on both legs for 3 sets.

Single Leg Glute Bridge:

-Start on your back with your knees bent at 90 degrees and feet on the floor

-Straighten out one leg so that both knees are aligned

-Maintaining level hips (again resisting the hip drop) drive through the heel of the planted leg driving the hips as high as possible

-Make sure core and glute is engaged (you should not feel this in your hamstring or lower back - if you feel it in your hamstring then you are pulling instead of pushing the planted leg, and if you feel it in your lower back then the core is not properly activated)

-Lower hips, tap ground, and repeat (you want slow tempo down and fast up)

-Do 10 reps on both legs for 3 sets

Read more Tutorials:

Also see:

UCSF Sports Medicine

Some UCSF Sports Medicine category text here Lexxi can update.

Yoga for Runners

Some Yoga for Runners category text here Lexxi can update.

Nutrition and Recipes

Some Nutrition and Recipes category text here Lexxi can update.

Strength Training

Using strength and resistance training to improve marathon performance.