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Exercises You Must Do if You're a Walker or Runner, Says Expert

Want to walk or run farther for longer? Here's how to strengthen your hamstrings, glutes, and calves.

Just because walking and running are super-basic movements that human beings are biomechanically designed to do doesn't mean that you can't get better at both through exercise. And unless you're deeply dedicated to either of them—and really rack up the mileage—I'd argue that basically all of us could benefit from doing some targeted exercises that will make both movements easier and more efficient. After all, in modern life—what with all the desk jobs and sedentary behavior—it's simply a fact that we tend to be very quadricep-dominant as humans, and tend to develop tight hip flexors and calves over time.

If you want to rectify this, you need to be sure strengthen the non-quad muscles of the lower body, including your hamstrings, glutes, and calves. By building up these areas, we balance out the strength ratio between the quads and hips. In the process, we'll improve our mobility, as well, which will allow you to walk and run far better and more efficiently than before.

Sound good to you? If you're ready to be a stronger and better-balanced runner or walker—who can go longer and farther—incorporate these four exercises into your routine ASAP. And for more genius ways to exercise better every day, don't miss The Secret Trick for Getting Fit Using Your Toothbrush.

Dumbbell Split Squat (10 reps each leg)

1 dumbbell split squat

Grab a pair of dumbbells, and start by having one foot forward and foot back in a staggered stance. Keeping your core tight with a slight forward lean, lower yourself all the way down until your back knee touches the ground. Push through the heel of your front foot to come back up, flexing your glute to finish. And for more great workouts you can try, see here for the Secret Exercise Tricks for Getting a Leaner, Fitter Body After 40.

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift (12 reps)

2 dumbbell romanian deadlift

To perform the movement, grab a pair of dumbbells and have them in front of you. Keeping your chest tall and knees soft, push your hips back while dragging the weights down your thigh. Once you get a nice hamstring stretch, drive your hips forward, squeezing your glutes to finish. Aim for sets of 10-12 reps.

Dumbbell Hip Thrust (15 reps)

3 dumbbell hip thrust

Start the movement by setting your upper back on a bench or sturdy platform. Place a dumbbell on your lap with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your core tight, lower your weight down. Push through your heels and hips until they're fully extended, squeezing your glutes hard at the top for 2 seconds. And for more great workout tips, see here for The Secret Little Exercise Tricks That Lead to a Longer Life.

Donkey Calf Raise (15-20 reps)

4 donkey calf raise

To perform the exercise, start by setting your top half of your feet up on a step or ledge to where you can get a good stretch. Keeping your chest tall, lean forward from the waist and place your hands on a stable surface. Then, drop your heel to the ground, flex your toes up into the air, and get a good calf stretch. Then come all the way up by pushing through with your big toes, flexing your calves hard at the top. Lower all the way to the ground, get a stretch for 2 seconds, then perform another rep. And for more expert-level advice, see The Most Effective Way to Work Out Every Day, Say Psychologists.

Tim Liu, C.S.C.S.
Tim Liu, CSCS, is an online fitness and nutrition coach based in Los Angeles Read more about Tim