American hurdler David Oliver is no stranger to the podium—he won Bronze in Beijing—in large part due to his powerful legs. Oliver develops his leg strength through intense exercises, including the Accelerated Dumbbell Step-Up, which mimics the hip motion that takes place during a 110 meter hurdle race. The exercise also helps promote the strength and power needed to quickly flex the hips while hurdling over an obstacle and maintaining proper running posture.
Oliver works with U.S. Olympic strength and conditioning coach Randy Hadley. Instead of performing the exercise slowly, Oliver accelerates through the Step-Up, using a hurdler-specific movement. Hadley says, “We bring the heel to the butt, driving down through the quad, through the heel [and] accelerate the trail leg through.” This, along with the movement’s high knee drive, recruits the muscles [glutes, hamstrings, quads] needed to hurdle at race-day speed.
Hadley also has Oliver engage his core to prevent leaning forward. Maintaining a stable core throughout the exercise trains him to stay in control and sustain proper running form throughout the race.
To develop powerful legs for hurdling, include the Accelerated Dumbbell Step-Up in your track workout.
David Oliver Accelerated Dumbbell Step-Up (watch video below)
- Bring heel to butt and drive down through the quad and heel
- Accelerate trailing leg through the movement
- Focus on high knee drive
- Keep core strong and stabilized
Sets/Reps: 3×8 for each leg