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The Running Process has three phases;
1) A ‘Push Phase’ when the foot is on the ground and your thigh/hip is in extension
2) A ‘Swing Phase’ when the foot is off the ground and moving forward
3) A ‘Return Phase’ when the foot is on the ground and your thigh/hip is in flexion


Muscles involved; Psoas;Iliacus;Sartorius;Vastus Rectus;Pectineus,Adductor Longus and Adductor Brevis

It is during the acceleration portion of the swing phase where a significant amount of your running speed is generated.

The acceleration portion of the swing phase is characterized by the flexing of the thigh on the pelvis and is the main function then of your thigh flexors

Collectively as a group the thigh flexors are among the strongest muscle groups in the body.

Ironically,in spite of their incredible inherent strength they are still found to be developed far below their full potential in most athletes.

This is simply because many people are unaware of their importance and function.

With weak thigh flexors your running speed will be significantly affected In fact the hip flexors have been identified as the most important for generating running speed above that of the calf muscles and thigh muscles how to choose a camping tent

It is aid that Usain Bolt’s Psoas Major is double the cross sectional area of the general population so that should tell you something

It will be impossible to cover all the exercises available to you so I have selected a few of the exercises from each form of training whether it be bodyweight or apparatus

1) Incline Leg Raise –Target Iliopsoas

Lie supine on incline board with torso elevated.

Grasp feet hooks or sides of board for support.
Raise legs by flexing hips and knees until hips are completely flexed.

Return until hips and knees are extended. Repeat.

It can be made harder by holding a dumbbell Wt between your feet

The same exercise can be done with straight legs

2) Jack –knife on Ball

Kneel with chest or waist on exercise ball.

Dive over top and place hands on floor with arms extended down supporting upper body.

While keeping body horizontal, walk hands further away from ball until shins are positioned on top of ball.

With arms vertical and straight, support body off the floor with body straight.

Bend hips and knees, allowing shins to roll over top of ball.

Pull knees toward chest until heels are under or near glutes.

Return by extending hips and knees to original position. Repeat.

3) Roman Chair Sit-Up


Sit on chair or bench with lower leg secured under low over hang or heavy bar.

Place hands on waist, chest, neck, or head depending upon desired difficulty.

Lower body back until hips are almost extended.

Raise body by flexing hips until torso is upright. Repeat.

Feet must be propped securely to prevent injury

Exercise can be done with the apparatus above and made harder with a holding wt

4) Wheel RollOut


Left- Kneel on floor or mat. Grasp handles on wheel to each side with overhand grip.

Position wheel near front of knees and lean over wheel with arms extended downward, supporting upper body.

With arms straight, roll wheel out as far as possible.

Lower body gently to floor extending arms forward.

Raise body back up by flexing hips and pulling arms back to original position.

Return until hips are extended. Repeat.

Keep elbows straight or nearly straight throughout exercise.

Also known as Wheel Kneeling Rollout.

5) Lever Hip Flexion

Stand on platform facing to one side and grasp bar for support.

Position front of leg nearest to machine against padded roller while standing on other leg.

Raise lever by flexing hip until knee is higher than hip. Return until hip is extended. Repeat.

Continue with opposite leg.

Machine must be adjusted to align hip with lever fulcrum.

6) Cable Lying Leg Raise On Bench

Attach cable ankle straps to both ankles. Sit on end of bench facing pulley at bench height.

Attach cable to both ankle straps. Lie supine on bench until cable is taut.

Grasp sides of bench behind head.

Raise legs by flexing hips and knees until thighs are past perpendicular to torso or before hips raise off of bench.

Return until hips and knees are extended. Repeat.

Training partner or trainer may need to assist attaching ankle cuffs to cable.

Ankle cuffs may also be attached to cable pulley in lowest position when feet are on floor, but assistance may be needed to raise pulley to bench height.

Cable Lying Leg Raise on floor is easier to set up.


Muscles involved: Semitendinosus;Semimembranosus;Biceps Femoris

The hamstrings function to flex the leg behind the thigh and function to extend the thigh behind the hip

The hamstrings cross and act upon two joints - the hip and the knee.

Semitendinosus and semimembranosus extend the hip when the trunk is fixed; they also flex the knee and medially (inwardly) rotate the lower leg when the knee is bent.

The hamstrings at the back of the thigh are very important muscles for sprinting, they are required to perform many tasks during the sprint gait cycle.

As the free leg swings forward rapidly and the knee starts to extend prior to foot strike,the hamstrings are working eccentrically to control the knee extension.

On foot strike,the hamstrings and quadriceps co-contract to create a stable knee during ground contract.

Then as the leg begins to push off,the hamstrings(assisted by the adductors) provide a concentric hip extension force to help forward propulsion.

In addition,if the gluteal muscles are not sufficiently active to perform a stabilising function during the stance phase,the hamstrings may have to assist in stabilising the trunk.

These multiple tasks place great strain on the hamstrings,which therefore need to be very strong

1) Weighted Glute –Ham Raise

This exercise is one of the toughest for the hamstrings as the muscles are placed in a mechanically weak position,having to bear the entire weight of the athlete while extending and flexing at the knee joint

Place ankles between ankle roller pads with feet on vertical platform and position knees on pad with lower thighs against large padded hump.

Position weight plate against upper chest or behind neck.

From upright position, lower body by straightening knees until body is horizontal.

Continue to lower torso by bending hips until body is upside down.

Raise torso by extending hips until fully extended.

Continue to raise body by flexing knees until body is upright. Repeat.

Weight can be positioned closer (easier) or further away (harder) from hips to adjust intensity

2) Lever Straight Leg Deadlift (plate loaded)

Stand between lever handles with shoulder width or narrower stance.

Squat down and grasp handles to each side.

Stand upright with arms straight down to sides.

With knees straight, bow forward by bending hips.

Bend waist as stirrups approach lowest position.

Lift lever by extending hips and waist until standing upright.

Pull shoulders back slightly if rounded. Repeat.

Begin with very light weight and add additional weight gradually to allow lower back adequate adaptation.

Throughout lift, keep arms and knees straight. Do not stand behind pulleys.

Do not pause or bounce at bottom of lift.

Lower back may bend slightly during full hip flexion phase.

Do not lower weight beyond mild stretch throughout hamstrings and low back.

Full range of motion will vary from person to person depending on flexibility.

3) Lever Seated Leg Curl (plate loaded)

Sit on apparatus with back against padded back support.

Push hand lever to lower leg pads. Place legs in between pads.

Release hand lever gradually. Grasp handles to sides with each hand.

Pull lever to back of thighs by flexing knees. Return lever until knees are straight. Repeat.

4) Weighted 45Degree Hyperextension

Position thighs prone on padding. Hook heels on platform lip or under padded brace.

Hold weight to chest or behind neck.

Raise upper body until hip and waist are fully extended.

Lower body by bending hips and waist until fully flexed. Repeat.

If weight is positioned behind head, neck extensors act as stabilizers

Position pad high enough to evenly distribute body weight on thigh but not so high that range of motion is limited; abdomen should not press on top side of pad when upper body is lowered.

Begin with body weight and add additional weight gradually to allow lower back adequate adaptation.

Do not pause or bounce at bottom of lift.

Do not lower weight beyond mild stretch throughout hamstrings and low back.

Full range of motion will vary from person to person

5) Dumbell Straight Leg Deadlift

Stand with shoulder width or narrower stance. Grasp dumbbells to sides.

With knees straight, lower dumbbells to top or sides of feet by bending hips.

Bend waist as bar approaches feet. Lift dumbbells by extending hips and waist until standing upright.

Pull shoulders back slightly if rounded. Repeat.

Begin with very light weight and add additional weight gradually to allow lower back adequate adaptation.

Throughout lift, keep arms and knees straight. Keep dumbbells close to legs.

Do not pause or bounce at bottom of lift.

Lower back may bend slightly during full hip flexion phase.

Do not lower weight beyond mild stretch throughout hamstrings and low back.

Full range of motion will vary from person to person depending on flexibility.

6) Cable Standing Leg Curl

Attach foot harness to low pulley.

With foot harness on one ankle, grasp support bar with both hands and step back with other foot.
Elbows remain straight to support body. Attached foot is slightly off floor.

Pull cable attachment back by flexing knee until knee is fully flexed.

Return by straightening knee to original position and repeat. Continue with opposite leg.

Keep hip from sagging or from being pulled forward

7) Leg Curl on Power Wheel

Lie supine on floor with feet strapped onto power wheel. Extended arms out to sides.

Straighten knees and hips.

Keeping hips and low back straight, bend knees, pulling heels toward rear end.

Raise up until lower legs are vertical.

Lower to original position by straightening knees. Repeat.

Keep hips straight throughout movement


Areas of work such as the use of Kettlebells make use of Hip Extension whilst the use of Resistance Bands with Isometric training offer alternative training of the Hip Flexors and, Hamstrings
Work and the muscle groups that are involved with Core training, alongside Plyometrics ,Hill Work,Circuit Training,Medicine Ball,Fit Ball(Swiss Ball) are just as relevant in the quest of maximising your potential but for now they remain discussion for another time

A guide to some Warm-Up exercises targeting the Hip Flexors and Hamstrings:

1) Lunge Walk

Great for loosening up the hips and hamstrings and strengthening the quads,glutes and hamstring muscles

Take a large step forward into a lunge,then step forward into another lunge.

Keep the chest up and look straight ahead,coordinating arm and leg movements-ie opposite arm to leg


2) High Knee March
Great for; hip flexor and ankle strength

In an alternate stepping action,extend up on to the toes of one leg,while lifting the thigh of the other leg to a parallel to the ground position.

Next dynamically drive this leg toward the ground,to strike it on your forefoot. Repeat.

Coordinate arms with legs and keep the chest elevated throughout.

The speed of the drill can be increased as the warm –up progresses

4 x15m

3) Elbow to Inside of Ankle Lunge

Great for hip flexibility and hamstring strength and will develop better balance.

The forward lean also stretches the lower back

The exercise is very similar to the lunge walk,except the runner extends their trunk forward over their front leg after they have lunged.

So.if your right leg were to the front,you would take your right elbow down to the inside of your right ankle,step into another lunge,incline your trunk forward and repeat to the left side

4) Standing Leg Drives

Great for developing Hip Flexor strength and improving leg drive

Lean forward against a wall with your hands placed flat against it at shoulder level.

Feet should be shoulder-width apart and approximately 1m from the wall,your head up and body braced in its angled position.

Lift your right leg until its thigh is parallel to the ground.

Then,working from the hip,dynamically ‘drive’ the leg back down so that your forefoot contacts the ground. Immediately on contact,pull the leg back to the starting position and repeat

3 x 10 on each leg,gradually increasing the speed of the drive

5) Leg Cycling

Great for developing eccentric hamstring strength and reducing hamstring injury

Stand tall and cycle one leg underneath the body in an out and back running action.

Use a wall or the running rail to aid balance. Increase speed as confidence develops.

It’s the motion of the foot extending in front of the body and its arrest by the hamstrings that is the prime cause of a hamstring strain.

The eccentric contraction in this exercise pre-conditions against this

Two Swings,One Leg Cycle

Assume a side on position to a wall/barrier and rest against it with your inside arm for balance.

Swing your leg,keeping it straight,to the front and to the rear of your hip.

On the second swing when the leg advances in front of your body,flex(bend) your knee and drive the leg down,pulling your heel up towards your bottom.

Let your thigh come forwards and extend your lower leg before pulling it back round behind the body and swinging the leg through straight to the front

2 x 6 on each leg

A Guide to some Warm Down Exercises targeting the Hip Flexors and Hamstrings

I) PNF for the Hamstrings

Lie on your back with your arms by your sides.

A training partner should assist as you lift one leg up and back towards your head

Maintain a slight bend at the knee joint of the active leg,with the other leg pressed firmly against the ground.

The leg being stretched will travel back to a point where further movement becomes difficult-when the stretch-reflex kicks in.

This position should be held for 20secs

You should then apply force by pushing against the partner through their leg(the partner braced and ready to offer resistance)

Relax,then repeat for a further 15secs,you should find that at this point your range of movement increases

2) PNF for the Hamstrings

Instruct participant to sit with knees straight on floor or mat.

Kneel behind participant and position chest on participants back.

Place hands just above knees from each side.

Push participants torso toward legs with chest while holding down knees. Hold stretch.

3) Seated Single Leg Hamstring Stretch


Sit on floor or mat with legs apart and knees straight.

Reach toward one foot or bring torso toward one leg. Hold stretch for 20 seconds.

Repeat with opposite leg.

Alternatively, leg not being stretched can be bent so sole of foot is next to stretched thigh.

Keep knee of stretched leg straight by tensing Quadriceps.

Knees may inadvertently bend if feet are extended off of thick mat or bench.

Spine may be kept straight.

Pelvis may be tilted forward to intensify stretch.

4) Standing Cross Leg Hamstring Stretch

Stand erect with legs crossed, outsides of feet together. Bend over with rear knee straight.

Reach toward feet or bring torso toward legs. Hold stretch. Repeat with opposite leg.

Keep rear knee straight. If necessary, tense Quadriceps. Spine may be kept straight.

Pelvis may be tilted forward to intensify stretch.

5) Standing Single Leg Hamstring Stretch

Stand with one foot forward and rear foot pointing out.

Bend over and brace torso by placing hand just above bent rear knee.

Lean down and bend rear knee further. Hold stretch. Repeat with opposite leg.

Rear knee should remain pointed same direction of rear foot.

Both hands may be braced just above both knees.

Forward knee may also be keep straight by tensing Quadriceps.

Spine may be kept straight. Pelvis may be tilted forward to intensify stretch.

6) Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

Lunge forward with knee on padded mat. Position foot beyond forward knee.

Place hands on knee.

Straighten hip of rear leg by pushing hips forward. Hold stretch. Repeat with opposite side.

Position foot further beyond knee if stretch is felt in Adductor Magnus of forward thigh.


7) Lying Iliotibial Stretch

Lie on one side. Position ankle of lower leg over outside of upper thigh.

Grasp top ankle or forefoot behind. Reposition side of upper body on floor.

Pull knee of rear leg back by straightening hip. Hold stretch. Repeat with opposite side.

Tensor Fasciae Latae