A strong backside doesn't come from three sets of 10 reps on a leg machine. It comes from squats, single-leg deadlifts, lunges and sprints. A strong lower back, glutes and hamstrings, will not only help you increase your speed, they'll also help you improve your running economy.
Posterior Chain Pointers:
- The hamstrings are constructed with a high percentage of fast-twitch muscle fibers, so they must be trained with heavier weight and lower reps.
- Most endurance athletes will have to work the posterior chain harder initially to overcome the muscle imbalance caused by strong, powerful quads.
- These workouts should be done 1 to 2 times a week depending on your training/race schedule.
- Don't forget the little exercises such as clamshells, fire hydrants and lateral-band walks. It's important to strengthen the gluteus medius. These exercises will improve hip stability and increase stability in the knee joint.
Box Squats1 of 14
Stand in front of a 12-inch box with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a barbell on your back.
Box Squat con't2 of 14
Push your butt back and lower yourself down to the box. Be sure to maintain a tight core throughout the movement. Touch the box with your butt and immediately return to the starting position. Keep your knees out as you rise. Do five sets of 5 to 8 reps.
Single-Arm Kettlebell Swing3 of 14
Stand behind a kettlebell with feet shoulder-width apart. Tighten your core and squat down to pick up the kettlebell with one hand.
Single-Arm Kettlebell Swing con't4 of 14
To start the swing, drive your hips back and hike the bell in between your legs. Drive your hips and knees forward in one quick motion. Maintain a rigid core at the top of the swing. Swing the kettlebell for 20 to 30 seconds and then switch arms. Do 4 to 5 sets.
Glute-Hamstring Raise5 of 14
Lie face down with your hips slightly off the mat. Cross your arms over your chest and keep your knees locked. Keep your back flat as you bend over the pad.
Glue-Hamstring Raise con't6 of 14
Use your glutes, hamstrings and back to lift yourself back up. Bend your knees as you rise to increase your height, this will help target your hamstrings. Complete 3 to 5 sets of 5 to 12 reps.
TRX Hamstring Curl7 of 14
Lie on your back and place your heels into the TRX cradles under the anchor point.
TRX Hamstring Curl con't8 of 14
Keep your arms flat on the floor as you raise your hips. Tighten your core and pull your heels towards your butt. Your knees should now be bent at 90 degrees. Pause for a moment, then return to the starting position. Do 3 to 5 sets of 5 to 12 reps.
Lunge9 of 14
Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with feet hip-width apart.
Lunge con't10 of 14
Engage your glutes and core as you take a big step forward. The shin of your front leg should remain vertical, and the knee of your trail leg should come close to the floor. Push yourself back into the starting position. Switch lead and trail legs and repeat the move. Do 3 to 5 sets of 10 to 16 reps.
Bulgarian Split Squat11 of 14
If you have lower-back problems or any back issues you should use Bulgarian split squats. This move wont put as much stress on your back as a regular squat. Stand in front of a bench or box with a dumbbell in each hand. Elevate your rear foot onto the bench.
Bulgarian Split Squat con't12 of 14
Bend your front knee to 90 degrees, and drive yourself back to the starting position. Maintain a tight core and keep your head in a neutral position. You can use your bodyweight, dumbbells or kettlebells for this exercise. Do 3 to 5 sets of 10 to 16 reps.
Sprints13 of 14
Go to YouTube and watch Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt in slow motion. He's a perfect model for proper form and technique. Sprinting is a great way to build the fast-twitch muscles fibers. Quick technique tips:
- Keep shoulders relaxed and head straight.
- Keep your arms bent as you pump them forward, and keep your torso tight.
- Drive your knees forward and up. Land on your forefoot with little contact on the ground.
- If you can, have someone take a video of your running form to help you correct your technique
- Start off slow and build up to 1 to 8 reps of 30- to 100-meter sprints.