Trainer and ultra-runner David Roche is well known for its three-minute mountain leg workout, a routine that works for a wide variety of runners, from ultra-endurance athletes to those training for a 5K. As the mountain leg routine helps runners get strong, Roche shared Trailrunner Magazine that there was a need for a speed-focused routine for runners looking for help in picking up the paces.
Before doing this routine, note that if you don’t struggle with speed, the mountain leg workout should be enough of a boost for you, and you can safely increase the reps as you gain strength. . Roche recommends Fast Legs only to athletes “who have evidence that they need them, whether due to health issues, imbalances, or weakness at higher power levels.”
Make sure you don’t add any new exercises to your routine if you’re recovering from an injury, and get into the routine by starting with no weights of any kind. Roche suggests not rushing between exercises and says, “Don’t go to failure. We seek to do work, not work.
Eight Minute Speed Step Routine
Warm up with a brisk walk or slow run, or do this routine after your workout (add these exercises to an intense training day, so your easy days stay easy).
10 x alternating back lunges on each leg
Since back lunges are easier than the rest of the exercises, they’ll help you warm up, and Roche says to avoid coming close to failure. Focus on using controlled up and down movements with your back knee coming closer to the floor. Quads, glutes, and hamstrings will all be engaged in these lunges, with both eccentric and concentric movements perfect for descending and climbing. Alternate legs to avoid over-tiring yourself.
10 x Bulgarian split squats on each leg
With your back leg on a bench or platform a few feet up, step up and down while maintaining control. Roche says you’ll feel it in your butt and high hamstrings — make sure to start with no weights. Avoid this one if you have any pre-existing injuries or concerns.
10 x Romanian Single Leg Deadlift on each leg
Roche is firm on this one – start without weights. Plant your foot firmly and bend your knee slightly, raising the other leg parallel to the ground. Push down and pull back with the engaged leg back to the center, with a controlled up and down motion.
10 to 20 x goblet squats
With legs shoulder-width apart or slightly wider apart and feet slightly apart, do a typical squat. Some people like to go 90 degrees or beyond, but Roche says he prefers to stay a little higher. After adjusting to these exercises, you can use slightly heavier weights.
20 to 50 x single leg step-ups
Runners familiar with three-minute mountain stages will recognize the burn of the uphill portion to wrap up the speed leg routine. “Go up and down a little faster now, with the burn concentrated in your quads,” Roche says. “It should feel almost exactly like climbing a steep hill.”
Roche suggests going for a walk after the speed step routine and making sure you have an easy-to-follow race or recovery day.