Don't skip out on strength training just because you think running is the ultimate form of exercise. Building a little muscle should be part of every runner's cross-training fitness routine. Squats, a classic lower-body move, is great for runners for these four reasons.
- Prevent knee injuries: Knee pain is one of the most common injuries runners face. Aside from wearing supportive sneakers and running on softer surfaces, strengthening the muscles around this joint can also reduce your risk of pain and injury. Try these wall squats to strengthen your upper legs.
- Increase your speed: Practicing sprinting intervals and negative splits will make you a faster runner, but first and foremost, you need muscular legs to have the ability to propel your body forward with each step. Goddess pose, a form of a wide squat, is a killer move that will have your thighs and booty burning. To target your calves and hamstrings, do this variation that Cameron Diaz uses called the Plié With Calf Raise.
Continue reading for two more reasons runners need to do squats.
- Make hills easier: Strong legs also give you the power to tackle inclines with a breeze. The basic squat is an awesome move, but you can also benefit from incorporating squat variations into your routine that target your calves, shins, quads, hamstrings, and booty, like the Balancing Side Leg Lift Squat.
- Increase your endurance: Toned legs and a strong core can also give you the feeling like you can run forever. Try this mini yoga sequence the next time you strength train: Fierce pose for five breaths, moving into Side Fierce on the left side and then the right for five breaths each, back to Fierce pose for another five breaths, and then move into Open Side Fierce on the left side and then the right for five breaths each. Finish with another five breaths in Fierce and your legs will be burning.