This 5-Move Workout Will Build Powerful Running Legs

Running is a quintessential part of Spartan racing. It is the base of every race distance, and it's what takes you from obstacle to obstacle. As a Spartan, it is impossible to get through a race without running.

At any given time, Spartans must be able to transition into explosiveness to jump over a wall. Spartans climb up and down mountains on their legs, pick up heavy objects, and carry them throughout the most difficult of terrain. The legs are responsible for powering a Spartan through every demand.

In the words of the legendary Herb Brooks, “the legs feed the wolf.” Strong legs provide the strength, speed, and power to operate the body. They are necessary to move efficiently throughout whatever is thrown at them. The legs are the most important muscle group in maximizing a Spartan’s ability to run.

When talking about building leg strength, particularly for runners, we need to first talk about the biomechanics responsible for maintaining our most efficient running gait: the gluteal group and the hamstrings.

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The Glutes Stabilize the Hips

So how do the hamstring and the glutes work together?

The glutes, primarily the gluteus medius, is responsible for stabilizing the hips. They support the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex through our walking and running gait, keeping the hips aligned as we transition from one leg to the other. The glutes are also responsible for absorbing force starting from the ground, working up through the body, to adapt to any muscle imbalances caused by the normal wear and tear of life. Your glute stability is responsible for interpreting necessary and unnecessary stresses on the lower body. They play a pivotal role in whether your muscle imbalances turn into long-term aches and pains.

The Hamstrings Extend the Hips

But where do the hamstrings come in?

The hamstrings are responsible for extending your hips. They are meant to counterbalance your quads, and to pull your torso back in line with your lower body. When the hamstrings and the glutes work together, the emphasis of your stride is on pulling, rather than pushing, through your quads and hip flexors. This maximizes the efficiency of your stride.

Unfortunately, due to our society’s obsession with technology, we find ourselves constantly in a seated, forward, rounded position. Our chest and shoulders round in, our hip flexors become shortened, and our hamstrings are placed in a constant state of overstretch from spending our days sitting. This also causes the glutes to become deactivated, because of our lack of utilization throughout our day. When our glutes are no longer active, our hamstrings take over their responsibilities. This can lead to chronic hamstring tightness and overuse injuries.

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In this workout, we are utilizing our glutes and hamstrings for running efficiency. We are strengthening our glute and hamstring connection, activating the glutes, and simultaneously retraining the hamstrings in their primary responsibility: hip extension. We will work our hamstrings and glutes to develop power, strength, and stability. These are all actions that are required by the body to become a  successful runner.

The Workout

Superset #1

Deadlifts - 5x4 @ 85% Effort

Single-Leg Bench Bridge - 4x8

Superset #2

Goblet Squats - 4x8 @ 75% Effort

Split-Squat Jumps - 4x8 Each Leg

Eccentric Hamstring Curls - 4x8

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