Running is one of the simplest sports out there and one of the best forms of exercise. It has been shown to greatly improve cardiovascular health and overall health. Many people run as a form of recreational activity or just for the simple purpose of losing weight. Despite the benefits of running, there are countless issues that trail closely behind the average runner. The most common issues associated with running are overuse injuries. These injuries usually occur at the ankles, knees, and hips.
Do not fear, there are weight vest strengthening exercises to aid in the prevention of overuse injuries and improve your speed, endurance, and leg stability. The biggest benefit of these exercises are that they can be applied to any runner no matter the type of running. From beginner to elite level athlete and from track running to trail running. Checkout our top five weight vest moves for runners that strengthen the legs and the hips for better running performance!
SINGLE LEG SIT TO STAND
Start seated on a step or chair with knees bent at around 90 degrees and feet planted slightly behind the knees. The arms should be reaching out in front of you. Shift your weight onto your right leg and lift your left foot slightly off the ground with the opposite leg. Lean slightly forward and drive your right foot into the ground, keeping weight in your midfoot to heel. Stand all the way up on your right leg while keeping your left foot off the ground. Reverse the movement to return to a seated position. Avoid plopping and focus on maintaining foot, knee and hip alignment. Repeat the same process on the left foot. To make it easier, keep most of your weight in your standing leg, but use your other foot as a kickstand to help you push off and rise to standing. To make it harder, use a lower surface or tap the hips down instead of sitting all the way down.
SINGLE LEG FORWARD STEP DOWN
The single leg step down exercise is the most beneficial to trail runners when combined with a weighted vest. This simulates running down hills with a hydration pack but in a controlled environment.
Start standing on a flat, elevated surface with your toes close to the edge. Shift your weight over to balance on your right leg. Pick up your left leg and hold it in front of your body. Hinge slightly at the hips and start to bend the right knee to step down. Lower your left leg about three to six inches below the surface you are standing on or until you reach the floor. Begin to extend your right leg from the end position until you stand back up. Keeping your arms behind your back helps to keep from falling forward. To make it easier, use a lower surface or have one arm hold on to another surface if close by. To make it harder, use a taller surface or have the lifted leg come all the way down and lightly tap the ground before being lifted up again.
SPLIT LUNGE JUMPS
These luges are slightly different from a regular lunge jump. Start in a lunge position with the right leg forward at 90 degrees and the left leg back at 90 degrees. Jump into the air picking up both legs up simultaneously and switching them before landing back down. Repeat the jump to switch the legs again. Instead of jumping as high as you can like a lunge jump, the split lunge jump focuses on just barely getting off the ground to switch the legs in between. To make it easier, start with regular lunge jumps and give yourself plenty of time to jump in between. To make it harder, stay close to the ground and rapid switch the legs.
WALKING LUNGES WITH ROTATION
Start by moving from a standing position and stepping with the right leg into a forward lunge. While hovering off the ground and holding the lunge position, rotate the torso to the right side of the body and then back. Step up and forwards to a standing position. Repeat on the left side of the body. The legs should remain parallel to each other as you walk, never crossing each other. To make it easier, let the knee rest on the ground in the lunge position as you rotate. To make it harder, hold SandBell weights in front of the chest or add a knee drive coming up from the standing position. The focus for this weight vest move for runners is balance and engaging the core muscles so choose a lighter weight and progress to a heavier weight.
SINGLE LEG CROSS BACK STEP DOWN
Start standing on a flat, elevated surface with the outer right foot close to the edge. Shift your weight over to balance on your right leg. Hinge slightly at the hips and start to bend the right knee to step down. Pick up your left leg and move it behind and to the left side of your body. Lower your left leg about three to six inches below the surface you are standing on or until you reach the floor. Begin to extend your right leg from the end position until you stand back up. Keeping your arms extended in front of you. To make it easier, use a lower surface or have one arm hold on to another surface if close by. To make it harder, use a taller surface or have the lifted leg come all the way down and lightly tap the ground before being lifted up again.
The best thing you can do for your running performance is to incorporate leg + hip stability and strengthening moves whether you use a weight vest or your body weight. Our top 5 weight vest moves for runners are designed to build strength and mitigate many overuse injuries common with runners.