But have you ever thought about saving time by training both key areas at once? Enter: This legs and abs workout with dumbbells to help you improve your strength, form, and speed.
The Benefits of a Legs and Abs Workout With Dumbbells
Practicing a legs and abs workout with dumbbells—like the one we have here—can be super beneficial to runners. For starters, adding weight to any exercise will allow you to efficiently improve your strength. Plus, the exercises in this workout will challenge your stability and strengthen the crucial muscles that get challenged while you’re clocking miles.
The squat is traditional exercise that runners need in their routines and in this workout, you will be challenged to go out of your comfort zone while practicing variations of this move. The same goes for the deadlift and lunge—two go-to exercises that runners should always have in their strength routines.
In addition to hitting your power-providing legs, the creative abs moves in this list were also designed to strengthen your core in new ways and help you maintain your form on the road.
“Bottom line, having a strong core, legs and glutes will increase speed, power, running economy and help prevent injury,” says Lindsey Clayton senior instructor at Barry’s in New York City and cofounder of the Brave Body Project, and creator of this workout.
How to use this list: Complete 3 sets of 10 reps of each exercise below (10 reps per side for those one-sided movements), resting minimally between exercises and 15 to 30 seconds between sets. Each move is demonstrated by Clayton in the video above so you can master the proper form. You will need a set of medium to heavy dumbbells, though you can always do these moves without them. An exercise mat is recommended.
1. Side-Step Squat
Why it works: This exercise will challenge your balance while strengthening the hamstrings, quads, glutes, and core. It also gets you to move side to side, “which runners need more of because we spend so much time moving forward in a fixed position,” Clayton says.
How to do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand down in front of the body. Take a wide step to the left, then send hips down and back, bending knees to lower into a squat. Go as low as far as possible without feeling discomfort in joints, dropping chest, or lifting heels off the floor. Push through feet to stand back up, bringing left foot back to the center. Repeat on the other side. Continue alternating.
Why it works: This move is perfect for runners, Clayton says, because it will train you to correctly hip hinge and teaches you to maintain alignment in your torso in a similar position to running. It also works the posterior chain or entire back of body.
How to do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, down in front of you, palms facing you. With shoulders packed and core tight, send butt straight back to hinge at hips, keeping knees just slightly bent. Engage hamstrings and glutes to resist the downward pull of gravity as the weight lowers toward to the floor. Lower as far as you can until you feel tension along the backs of legs. Then drive feet into ground to stand back up. Repeat.
3. Alternating Reverse Lunge
How to do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms down by sides. Take a big step back with right foot. Bend both knees until the left thigh is parallel to the ground and the right knee is hovering just above the ground, legs forming 90-degree angles. Push through the left foot to stand back up. Repeat on the other side. Continue alternating.
4. Racked Squat
Why it works: A traditional squat will help you activate your quads, hamstrings, glutes and core. Add weights to the equation, Clayton says, and you’ll strengthen these muscles even more, for a power-packed stride.
How to do it: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes turned slightly out. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, resting lightly on shoulders. Send hips down and back, bending knees to lower into a squat (just like you’re about to sit in a chair). Go as low as possible without feeling discomfort in joints, dropping chest, or lifting heels off the floor. Pause, then push through feet to stand back up. Repeat.
5. Downdog Drag With Knee Drive
Why it works: This exercise is a must-do for runners, because it will challenge your core strength, stability, and mobility.
How to do it: Start in the high plank position with both hands on dumbbells, shoulders directly over wrists so body forms a straight line from head to heels. Engage core to drag left dumbbell towards right toe—forming an upside down v with your body. Then drag the dumbbell back to starting position. From here, drive left knee to left elbow. Then step back to plank. Repeat on the other side. Continue alternating
Why it works: Runners often forget how practicing this traditional exercise can be beneficial. Not only will it help improve your core strength and stability but it will also help with breath support, Clayton says.
How to do it: Lie faceup with knees bent, feet flat on the mat and squeezing a set of dumbbells, and fingertips behind ears. Engage core muscles to sit up so that shoulders are directly above hips. Slowly lower back to the floor. Repeat.
7. Reverse Crunch With Hip Lift
Why it works: If you want to avoid overuse injuries from running, Clayton says, you need strong hip flexors. Practicing this move will strengthen those muscles, as well as other muscles in your core and your quads.
How to do it: Lie faceup with hands holding dumbbells placed on the floor above head. Extend legs down toward floor, a few inches off the ground, making sure core is tight. Then, pull knees in toward chest. Next, extend legs up toward ceiling, lifting hips off the ground. Slowly lower hips back down, bend knees into chest, and then extend back out toward floor. Repeat.
8. Alternating Single-Leg V-Up
How to do it: Lie faceup in a hollow-hold position, legs extended and held just a few inches off the mat and arms reaching above head. Lift right arm and left leg up into a V position to meet as close together as they can at the top. Lower back down into a hollow hold. Repeat on the other side. Continue alternating.