HOW CAN I BUILD STRONG LEGS?
ALICE LIVEING, WH columnist and PT at Third Space, London, reveals why strong legs can carry you over the finish line and beyond
When you say you want strong legs, what do you actually mean? Do you dream of running marathons with them? Or is it more about being able to do heavy squats in the gym? I consider my own legs to be fairly strong, but when I run anything over 5km, they turn to jelly. It’s important to understand that strong legs are goal-specific and relative to your physical abilities and personal objectives. So, in the interests of giving you the best advice I can, I’ve honed in on a goal that just about anyone can aim for – that is, legs that move well, remain injury-free and have a substantial range of movement in order to perform tasks well, such as taking you from A to B without getting tired.
In order to achieve this, a combination of strength and mobility exercises are key. It isn’t just the legs you want to strengthen, it’s the entire posterior chain. Including the erector spinae (the muscles that run alongside your spine), gluteal muscles, hamstrings, gastrocnemius (calves, for want of a better word) and soleus complex, this is essentially the rear side of your body.
In terms of specific strength work, neglecting your posterior chain can cause a multitude of issues, such as poor posture, lower back and knee pain, shortened hip flexors and a weakened core. These decreases in strength can then transfer into poor athletic performance and lead to injury. So, now do you understand why I’m always banging on about the benefits of training your behind?