Strengthen the Most Important Leg Muscles with One Exercise

The quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteals, can be strengthened with one important exercise: the weighted lunge.

Photo: Scott Draper

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Some of the most important leg muscles, like the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteals, can be strengthened with one important exercise: the weighted lunge.

“Weighted lunges will improve the use of fast-twitch muscle fibers—muscle fibers that don’t normally get recruited when running slowly,” says Jon-Erik Kawamoto, a Canadian strength-training coach. He suggests runners do lunges one to two times per week. “In the off-season, I recommend 8 to 12 reps per leg, and in season, I recommend 4 to 6 reps per leg,” he says.

Step 1: Stand with both feet together and shoulder-width apart. Hold the dumbbells at your sides with shoulders relaxed.

Step 2: Take a giant step forward with one foot. Keep your lead toe pointed forward. Try not to move your front foot, and do your best to stay balanced.


Step 3:
Bend the front leg. “The rear knee should be close to the ground and roughly at 90 degrees,” Kawamoto says. “The front knee should also be at 90 degrees and just over the shoelaces. The torso can lean slightly forward from the hips.” Maintain a straight back.

Step 4: While keeping the weight on your front heel, push off it slowly to return back to the starting position.

Step 5: Repeat this sequence, leading with the opposite leg.

Photos: Scott Draper

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