Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Running Won't Give You The Leg Strength Needed For Sports

Leg strength is important in sports. Duh! There is a myth about leg strength which is this: If I run enough, my legs will get stronger. Wrong! The average marathoner has the leg strength of the average Joe (if she or he doesn't strength train)!

You should strengthen your legs with exercises like squats, step ups and lunges because these exercises use the same pathways that it takes to run with speed.

Don't worry about leg extensions too much because the quadriceps will get plenty of work with other exercises. Instead, focus on strengthening the hamstrings with exercises like hamstring curls, straight-leg deadlifts and good mornings.

The quadriceps shouldn't be significantly stronger than the hamstrings. If so, you are headed for injuries such as knee ACL tears. And, don't forget about your calf muscles. The calf muscles provide at least 30% of the strength and power it takes to run fast. Use calf raises (seated or standing) to strengthen the calves.

Once you have strengthened your legs adequately, you can progress to plyometric exercises to provide the power it takes to play sports with explosion.

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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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