Tayte Pollmann’s articles are supported by American Trail Running Association corporate member Nike Trail Running. You can follow Tayte’s adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Tayte is pictured above at the 2018 World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships. Photo by Fotografia Bez Miary Magdalena Bogdan.
Strength training running specific muscles in your legs, glutes and core will help you improve your downhill and uphill running speeds. Although running mountains and hills is a great way to strengthen these muscles, you can also do specific exercises to achieve similar benefits. Listed below are my favorite strength exercises to improve your mountain running speed and develop more power.
Walking Lunge Warm Up – 30 seconds out, 30 seconds back
These lunges are a great way to activate many of your major muscle groups and get your blood flowing.
Stair Step Up – 1 minute per side
Targets glutes and hip flexors. Improves knee drive, which translates to more powerful uphill running. Focus on pushing down with one leg and swinging the other leg upwards naturally.
Chair Lift Off – 1 minute per side
This exercise can be performed on a low seat, such as a chair, rock or other low seat. Lower your seat for additional challenge.
Bulgarian Split Squat – 30 seconds per side
Promotes strength through a large range of motion. This exercise can help you train for extreme grades in excess of 25 percent.
Split Jump – 30 seconds each side
This explosive exercise prepares your quads for running downhill. Focus on exploding upwards from your front leg and maintaining a good lunge posture.
Stair Calf Raise – 1 minute per side
Improves ankle dorsiflexion and strengthens calves for better uphill running. Raise up on your toes as high as possible with each repetition.
PRO TIP: Maintaining a strong core for stability will aid with all types of running, including hill running. Check out some of my favorite core exercises here.
Are you ready for a mountain running race to put all your new found leg and core strength to work? Check out our Event Calendar and find a mountain running race near you.
Editor’s Note: are you looking for even more strength training ideas to improve your trail running? Consider these articles here on the ATRA website: