I call this specialized strength exercise for runners the lunge-thigh drive -knee extension. It is for athletes who must run or sprint in their sport. It mimics the entire running pushoff and flight phase. At the same time it teaches the runner these important actions in the same sequence as occurs in running.
Keep in mind that because this is a specialized strength exercise, the runner will see almost immediate improvement in his running speed. This happens because as each individual action is executed, the athlete gains strength in the same neuromuscular pattern as seen in running or sprinting.
As a result, the runner improves his technique and at the same time, he gains strength in those muscles that are involved in the running stride. More specifically the running becomes more effective and efficient as he improves technique and strength specific to the actions that occur.
The lunge-thigh drive-knee extension specialized exercise is executed as follows: Active cords are attached to the belt around the hips, thigh strap around the lower thigh, and ankle strap around the shin close to the ankle. It is important that you select the correct resistance cord for each of the different attachments. Keep in mind that these are three different actions executed in sequence as they occur in running.
To execute, the athlete executes a lunge followed by the thigh drive and when the thigh is approximately 45° above level in front of the body the leg extension takes place. The exercise is done slowly as the sequential movements are learned. Speed is gradually increased as the athlete learns the correct movements until the exercise can be executed explosively.
Do not rush going through each phase to reach the explosive phase. Understand that from the very beginning the athlete is improving in technique and specific strength. As he gains greater strength from doing the exercise he will then be able to move into the explosive phase and do it well. The exact length of time depends on the level of the athlete’s physical and technical abilities.