What Muscles Help You Run Faster?

What Muscles Make You Run Faster? [Key Muscle Groups Used for Increasing Running Speed]

What muscles make you run faster? Learn the key leg muscles and how to strengthen important muscle groups that help increase running speed!

Who doesn’t want to run faster?

And that’s why knowing the main muscle groups that make you faster is so important.

Well, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll cover which muscles help you run faster and how to strengthen them with a few exercises.

Let’s get into it.

Key muscle used in running faster

Running is a great workout for your entire body.

But, naturally, your leg muscles greatly benefit from the activity. In particular, your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves — the four key muscle groups involved in running.

What muscles make you run faster. A diagram overview.

These muscles will help propel you forward and keep balance.

For a closer look, here’s a quick breakdown:


The quadriceps are on the front of your thigh muscle.

Quad muscles

This group of four long muscles makes up the bulk of the front muscles on your leg, and they extend from the hip to the knee. 

The muscles are: rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius.

You won’t be great at basketball because you’ll have trouble running, jumping, and squatting if these four muscles are weak.

These muscles also help extend your knee and propel your body forward. 

Strong quadriceps equal faster sprinting speed and a stronger ability to run uphill.


The hamstrings are a group of three muscles on the back of the thigh.

Hamstring muscles

The three muscle groups are: biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus. (Say those five times fast!)

You’ll be bad in a fight if you’ve weak hamstrings. That’s because you’ll have trouble running, jumping, and kicking.

These muscles work together to bend your knees (or flex your knees) and help with hip extension. Focusing on keeping these and your hamstrings equally strong is important. After all, if they’re weak in comparison to the quads, you open up injury potential.

Strong hamstring muscles help you maintain your speed during long-distance runs.


The glute is the muscle pair in your buttocks.

Glute muscles

There are three glute muscles: gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus. And you can understand why MC Hammer loved them because they help with pretty much everything, including muscle balance at the hips.

Here are a few of the benefits:

  • Good posture
  • Stable pelvis and lower back 
  • Help you walk, run, and jump 

As I said, everything.

Calf muscles

The calves are the muscles located on the back of your lower legs.

Calf muscles

They have two primary muscles: the gastrocnemius and soleus muscle.

If these different muscles are weak, you’ll have trouble staying upright.

These are the muscles to help push you off the ground and drive you forward. 

Strong calves are crucial for sprinting and running uphill.

Additional important muscle groups that contribute to running speed

While the quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes are the primary muscles responsible for running speed, other muscles are also very important.

And when any of these areas are weak compared to the others, it leads to a muscle imbalance. And that can lead to compensatory movements, which can cause injury over time (especially in your hips and knees)

So, focus on ALL muscles, including ones that don’t get worked hard during a workout.

These include:

  • Core muscles: For strong running you need a strong core. And the muscles of the core region, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, and erector spinae, help stabilize your torso and pelvis during your run. This means a more efficient transfer of lower body strength to upper body strength, which helps increase speed.
  • Hip flexors: The hip flexors help lift the knees when you run and are the muscles that influence pelvic stability. Strong hip flexors can help increase stride length, speed, and range of motion.
  • Ankle dorsiflexors: The muscles that make your ankle flex backward, including the tibialis anterior and extensor hallucis longus, are important for running speed. These muscles help lift your foot off the ground and prepare it for the next stride.

Now, let’s look at some exercises that can help your running performance and make you feel like a world-class sprinter!

Exercises to Strengthen Running Muscles

There are many exercises that can help runners strengthen the muscles they need to run faster. Here are a few:

Explosive Step-Ups 

Explosive step-ups

Step-ups are fantastic for running faster because they strengthen key muscles. 

Explosive step-ups, where you jump off the step with one foot and land on the other with one leg behind, can help build power and speed.

These are especially good for strengthening the hamstrings and strengthening your calves as the movements put a lot of impact as you land on these muscles.

Key muscles targeted

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Quads
  • Core

Box Jumps 

Box jumps

Box jumps can help improve your explosiveness and power, translating to faster running. 

Start by standing with straight legs in front of a box. Then, begin jumping onto a low box and gradually moving to higher boxes. Keep your knees up to avoid hitting them on the box.

But if you do this consistently, you’ll see an increase in strength in all your leg muscles.

Key muscles targeted

  • Glutes
  • Quads
  • Calves
  • Hamstrings
  • Core



Deadlifts are a great exercise for building overall strength, including the muscles used for running. Make sure to use proper form and start with a light weight.

Key muscles targeted

  • Quads
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Back muscles

Hip Thrusts

Hip thrusts

Hip thrusts can help strengthen the glutes, which helps create muscle balance in the hips. 

Start by lying on your back in a lumbar spine position with your knees bent and the balls of your feet flat on a surface. Lift your hips up towards the ceiling and squeeze your glutes at the top.

Key muscles targeted

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Hip flexors

Eccentric Romanian Deadlifts

Eccentric Romanian deadlifts

Eccentric Romanian deadlifts can help build strength in the hamstrings, which are important for running. 

Start by holding a weight in both hands and slowly lowering it towards the ground, keeping your back straight.

Remember, listening to your body and not pushing yourself too hard is important. Start with lighter weights and gradually work your way up. 

And always make sure to use proper form to avoid injury.

Key muscles targeted

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Lower back muscles

Ready to strengthen your muscles to run faster?

So, if you want to improve your running speed, strengthening your muscles is one part of making your running work.

And the best way to do that is by developing a plan that includes enough running and also strength training with proper form. And don’t worry about muscles slowing you down. With the proper mix, you’ll be just fine.

So, what’s next? Well, if you’re doing all these leg workouts, you might want to learn a bit about running after leg day!

And if you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out my others and follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok!

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The Travel Runner Portrait

Hi, I’m Kyle, and I’m The Travel Runner.

I’ve been traveling and running in exotic locations worldwide for the last five years.

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