Have you been told you have a weak leg or hip muscles?
Then these exercises are some of the best to work on for strengthening your calf, hamstring, quadracep and gluteals.
Leg and hip muscle weakness is common, even in athletes. It is because of weakness that is more likely to cause a muscle injury than due to being too tight. Strengthening exercises have equal importance to stretching for both injury prevention and also sporting performance.
These exercises have been designed by a Physiotherapist and Exercise Physiologist to target and strengthen the key muscles used in running. Our Exercise Physiologist develops strength and conditioning programs for athletes of all levels and integrates many of the below exercises into their gym programs.
The below exercises are for strength.
They should be done 3-4 times per week. Each exercise aim for 2 sets of up to 15 repetitions. Select which exercises will target your weak areas from the below list.
*Ensure you get no pain or discomfort during or after these exercises. If you do, cease immediately and seek our advice.
Single leg squats
- Begin by standing upright on one leg.
- Push your hips backward like you’re going to sit down and bend your knee into a single leg squat position.
- Slowly return to the starting position.
- Keep your knee aligned with the center of your foot.
Clam shells for outer hip muscles
- Lay on your side with a band around your thighs, just above your knees.
- Your hips should be flexed slightly and your head supported.
- Keep your feet together and open the top knee to externally rotate the hip.
Abductors using a band
- Keep back straight and abs tight – Leaning on the chair
- Keep leg and hip straight
Bridge with ball squeeze for groin muscles
- Lay down on your back with knees bent and a ball or pillow between them.
- Squeeze the glutes and contract the abdominals to lift the hips off the ground.
- As you lift, squeeze the ball between the legs.
- Hold for a few seconds on top then release as you lower.
Single leg bridge for hamstrings and gluteals
- Lay down with knees bent about 90° with a weight on the hips for increased resistance.
- Lift one leg up and push the hips upward by squeezing the glutes and lower slowly.
- Do not arch the lower back.
- Attach an elastic to secure object and to ankle of involved leg.
- Lie on your stomach with your knee straight.
- Bend your knee through available range without lifting hips.
- Return to starting position and repeat.
Nordic curls for hamstrings
- Anchor the feet under something heavy or have a partner hold them.
- Put a towel under the knees or do the exercise on a mat.
- Keep the thighs and the trunk in a straight line as much as possible and hinge only at the knees to lower as much as you can then come back up.
Adductor side planks
- Start on one elbow/forearm with the top leg on a chair, knee straight, and the bottom leg on the ground as shown in the picture.
- Hold the position with the top leg (do not let the hips drop) and lift the bottom leg up to meet the top leg.
- Hold 1 second then go back down without touching the ground and repeat.
- Do not rotate pelvis or over arch lower back (ie, maintain alignment trunk/pelvis/knees at all times).
- Keep back straight and abs tight – Dumbbell on the side of the working leg
- Leaning on a wall to take an inclined position to do the ankle extensions
All images courtesy of Physiotec, exercise software.