A runner with heat showing on his knee

Knee strength training for running

Simply put, todays runner needs to incorporate strength training for running. Fortunately, our partners Soar.Today have spent over three decades providing elite strength and conditioning support with the worlds very best athletes and Olympic Gold medallists. Here are four highly effective knee-strengthening exercises for runners from the team at Soar that will both help enhance your performance and also help prevent common running injuries.

Do I need equipment to do my strength exercises for running?

In a word, no!

Adding in strength training with running doesn’t mean you have to pay for a gym subscription or buy lots of equipment.

For example, our first of four strength exercises for runners is the single leg step down which you can do on any step around your home.

Single Leg Step Down

– Screw your working leg tight into the floor
– Keep pelvis level as you step down
– Graze the floor at the bottom

Too hard?:
– Point toes down (reduce range of motion)

Too easy?:
– Add reps, time under tension or load

Eccentric Sliding Hamstring Curl

– Stay on Heels
– Hips extended
– Glutes contracted
– Core braced

Too hard?:
– Do an isometric hold in various degrees of Knee bend

Too easy?:
– Increase amount of time through each rep
– Swap to Single Leg

Split Squat

– Travel down like an escalator, not an elevator
– Knee stays in line with or outside of the Hip and Foot

Too hard?:
– Raise your front foot
– Change to a bilateral movement like a Goblet Squat

Too easy?:
– Add reps, TUT or load
– Raise your rear foot

Kneeling Leg Extensions

– Tall Torso
– Hips extended
– Glutes contracted
– Push through the toes

Too hard?:
– Hold onto a resistance band attached in front of you and have it assist with your bodyweight as you lean back

Too easy?:
– Elevate your feet
– Add reps / Time under tension

How do you piece it all together?

Stitch together those four exercises and add to your post run cool down 2-3 times per week. By progressing repetitions by 3 each week over a 12-week period, you will see significant improvements in knee strength. Hopefully decreasing your likelihood of suffering with injuries in the future!

Example Prehab Program: Week 1

Single Leg Step Down: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
Eccentric Sliding Hamstring Curl: 3 x 6-9
Split Squat: 3 x 6-9
Kneeling Leg Extensions: 3 x 3-6

Did you find these useful?

Soar offer a free test where you complete four simple exercises to get a personalised report emailed to you. This will help you learn more about what strength and conditioning exercises for runners would work best and specifically for you, so you can reduce your risk of injury. Take the test here.

For more leg strengthening exercises for running see our strength training blogs