Well, with Turkey Day nearly upon us, I am gearing up for a 4 miler on Thursday morning.  I have run 5Ks, 10Ks and half marathons, but this will be my first 4 miler.  They give you a bottle of wine at the end of this one so it is pretty popular in my neck of the woods. 

As I expand my own running and train more and more runners, I often find that many lack good single leg stability and hip strength.  If you are a runner and not doing any strength training or simply focusing on traditional machine-based exercise, you need to shift gears and incorporate single leg exercises to maximize performance and prevent injuries.

In today’s post, I am going to give you an excellent progression of single leg hip drives or lifts to improve stance leg stability, gluteus medius strength and swing leg hip flexor strength.  In addition, this exercise will improve knee stability and ankle proprioception thereby reducing excess tibial rotation/pronation along the way.  That matters if you have experienced IT Band issues or shin splints along the way.  The exercise sequence is as follows:

  1. Single leg hip drive holds (3-5 seconds)
  2. Supported single leg hip drive
  3. Unsupported single leg hip drive
  4. Unsupported single leg hip drive with resistance
  5. Unsupported single leg hip drive (unstable surface)

You should progress through this sequence of training to ensure best results.  I suggest 1-3 sets of 10-15 reps of each sequence.  The unstable or most advanced version is suitable for cross country runners, runners with poor ankle stability (chronic sprains or hypermobile) or those with poor closed chain mechanics from the ground up.  I have included a few sample reps of these in the video below:

I hope you can put these exercises to good use.  They are great for increasing stance leg strength and stability, while simultaneously improving swing leg strength and mobility. Happy running and have a great Thanksgiving everyone!