Nearly 5 years ago, my parents and I embarked on a journey across the world- to New Zealand. It was an unforgettable time…
For two weeks, we drove the entire length of the north and south islands, explored, tasted, and admired the landscape, foods, and local culture. We stayed in many-a hotel, and were in the car for 10+ hours most days. The lack of routine exercise was a huge challenge for me, after having spent nearly every day since age 13 training for swimming, running, and/or triathlon! So, I decided that every morning before breakfast I would complete a very short, very intense, exercise routine without even leaving the hotel room. While the number of sets and repetitions varied from day to day, and some exercises came and went, the following leg set has been a staple of mine ever since. I am a firm believer that it played a huge role in allowing me to maintain leg strength and muscular endurance with zero running, and heaps of sitting, throughout my 2-week excursion. It has also been my go-to for leg injury prevention ever since!
This short routine, performed correctly and consistently, will target your core, improve your balance, and strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and adductors–all desirable functions for runners, cyclists, and triathletes hoping to avoid injury and improve performance!!
Britt’s “Iron Leg” Routine (1-3 sets of 5-15 of each exercise per leg)
1-leg power hops (aka. “tuck jumps”)
1-leg calf raises
Words of Caution
1-leg squats can cause more harm then good if not done correctly! Please do not attempt more than you can complete with proper form. Perform squats in a slow, controlled, balanced, motion. Use a mirror to check that your alignment is correct (hip not sticking out to the side; hip, knee & foot in-line). Also be sure to emphasize “sitting back” vs. leaning forward. Knee should not move forward beyond front toe position during squat.
1-leg power hops should only be attempted by athletes with healthy knees and plenty of double-leg jumping/hopping practice. Be sure to land each hop on the ball of your foot and not on your heel. Additionally, 1-leg calf raises should only be performed to the extent that calf strength is sufficient to support bodyweight during the exercise. Otherwise, the calf and/or achilles tendon may be over-stressed. Listen to your body–don’t over-do it!
Finally, proper run/gym shoes are allowed (and even recommended)!
- Use a chair for the 1-leg squats, or use 2-legs
- Mini hops before (or instead of) power hops
- Perform each exercise in isolation vs. in succession
- Use 2-legs for everything