Dr Jordan Metzl’s simple leg strength plan will keep your shins, calves, and Achilles healthy.
You love running. And when your sport of choice involves the great outdoors, fresh air and cruisin’ down the road, you don’t want to be stuck inside doing strength exercises. I get that. I’m a runner, too. But I also want to run for the rest of my life.
So I strength-train two or three times a week. Running can create muscle imbalances or accentuate ones you already have. Weak calves, for example, can put too much stress on the Achilles and break down the fibres that make up the tendon. Unstable hip and core muscles hurt your biomechanics and overload your shins, which can lead to shin splints and stress fractures. Do these exercises twice a week – daily if you have had shin, calf, or Achilles issues in the past.
Lunge forward with your right foot and left arm until the shin of your back leg is parallel to the floor and your knee almost touches the ground. Push up off the ground in an explosive manner, and switch your legs in midair so you land in a lunge with your left leg forward. Left and right lunges count as one rep. Do three sets of 15 reps.
Straight-Leg Calf Raise
Hold a dumbbell in your right hand; stand on a step. Cross your left foot behind your right ankle. Balance on the ball of your right foot. Lift your right heel and pause; then lower. Do three sets of 15 reps on each side.
Bent-Knee Calf Raise
Follow the straight-leg calf raise instructions, but bend the knee of your balancing leg and keep it bent as you raise and lower your body. Do three sets of 15 reps on each side.
Eccentric Calf Raises
Stand on a step with your heels hanging off the edge. Push yourself up on your toes. Then very slowly (to a count of 10) drop your heels below the level of the step. Do three sets of 15 reps.
Farmer’s Walk On Toes
Hold heavy dumbbells at your sides. Rise up on your toes and walk forward for 60 seconds. If you feel that you could’ve gone longer than 60 seconds, increase the weight. Do three sets.