Building Leg Strength and Endurance
In racing my past two races, I realized my leg strength and endurance was my biggest weakness. My legs were just not ready for the terrain or distance. I struggled on the hills, hills that I should have been able to run up at a steady pace. My legs groaned with exhaustion just a few miles into the races. My body, my lungs, and my mind wanted to explode, but it was my legs that held me back. I decided I needed work on quadriceps, hamstring, and glute strength and endurance. Just long distance running up and down steep hills were not enough. I needed to be able to count on my legs to explode and endure.
Here are three workouts that I created to step up my leg training:
One: Twenty-fives to successPull ups (to failure)
25 shoulder press squats (w/dumbells)
25 box jumps
25 sit ups
25 - 4 step lunges each leg (lunge forward, to side, reverse, to side count as one lunge)
Rest 1-2 minutes after this round. Repeat for 3-5 rounds
Note: I threw in exercises that involved other body parts between the leg exercises to give my legs a little rest before the next explosion. If the number of reps doesn’t cause burn by the second round, increase the number of reps.Two: Hill repeats with leg concentration
Find a section of a steep hill that you can run up for at least 1 minute.
Dedicate a start and end point.
Using a stop watch, sprint all out for the distance.
Jog down and repeat 4 times, keeping interval speed at same pace.
25 – 50 body weight squats
25 – 50 push ups
50 walking lunges
Rest 60 seconds
Repeat all of above for 3-5 rounds
Three: Love for Legs
100 walking lunges with weight on shoulders (sandbag, plate, dumbbell, etc.)
15 push ups
15 mountain climbers10 pull ups
25 body weight squats with one leg on a 12” box/step (switch to other leg)
15 push ups
10 sit ups
25 frog jump squats
1-2 minute rest
Repeat for as many rounds as possible
You can have a strong heart, defined muscles, large lung capacity, and all the will in the world. But when your legs fail you, the rest cannot get you across the finish line. It’s the legs that will carry you through. Train them well and don’t forget to stretch.