Running & the Importance of Single Leg Strength

by Rachel Varga, MSc.PT, Registered Physiotherapist

If you are a runner, a very important feature you should be incorporating into your running program is strength training. In particular, single leg strength training.

Running is a high impact sport, and it is predominately a single leg activity. If you think about it, there is only one foot in contact with the ground the majority of the time when running! Therefore, strength training that focuses on single leg exercises can be beneficial for many reasons. Some of these benefits include:

  • Correct muscle imbalances and avoid overcompensation from one leg
  • Prevent fatigue
  • Improve balance and coordination
  • Lower injury risk

Single leg exercises can also optimize regular strength training, which is important to increase force production and promote faster running.

Ultimately, single leg strength training will mimic the demands required in this sport, and in the long run (pun intended), improve overall performance.

I would recommend adding these into your running program two days per week. Here are three of my favourite single leg strengthening exercises:

Single Leg Hip Thrust

Position yourself with your upper back and shoulders rested on a bench and feet flat on the ground. Lift your non-exercising leg so it is crossed over the exercising leg. Then, push through the heel of your exercising leg, to lift your hips and buttocks up.
10 repetitions, 3 sets, 2x/week.

Elevated Split Squat

Position yourself standing on your exercising leg and place the other foot on a chair or other low surface. Then, bend your knee to lower your body towards the floor.

10 repetitions, 3 sets, 2x/week.


Position yourself in front of a step. Step up first with your exercising leg. Once on the step, focus on pushing through the heel of your exercising foot to bring up the non- exercising leg as well. Then, keeping your exercising leg on the step, bring the non-exercising foot back down off of the step behind you.

10 repetitions, 3 sets, 2x/week.

Rachel VargaIf you are a runner who is looking to increase strength, correct muscle imbalances, and ultimately prevent injury during the sport, book an appointment with our Registered Physiotherapist, Rachel Varga, at Synergy Sports Medicine East on the Danforth by clicking HERE!

Rachel Varga

Physiotherapist – B.A. Hons (Kin), MSc.PT
Rachel Varga is a physiotherapist practicing at Synergy Sports Medicine, East End (2017 Danforth Avenue)

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