Barefoot Running Drills (That Really Work)
Table of Contents
Are you looking for Barefoot Running Drills That Really Work? Here’s what you need to give you the edge in your barefoot running adventure? You have come to the right place. I have done all the heavy lifting for you and pulled together lots of drills specifically in preparation for barefoot running.
Barefoot running drills that really work:
- Standing Hops
- Gazelle Springs
- Jumping Lunges
- Walking Lunge
- Regular Bounce Jump Rope
- Running With A Jump Rope
- Agility Ladder Drills
- Hill Sprints
- Curb Hops
- Air Squat Elevated Single Leg Squat
- Side Plank
- Deep Squat
- Band Assisted Figure Four Run
- Standing Figure Four
- Standing Figure Four Against The Wall
- Buddy Assisted Figure Four Runs
- Running In Place
- Exaggerated Knee Raises
- Running Extended Split Skip
However, there’s one catch, you will need to try most of them if not all and pick the ones that work for you best. Then you need to do them as often as you can to build strength, speed while improving your running form.
There are quite some variations to go through but don’t worry; I’ll explain them all and walk you through the process I use to choose the barefoot running drills that work for me, and you can do the same.
A couple of factors to bear in mind as you do the drills I have put together.
- They will vary in function/purpose and hence use
- They will vary in difficulty
The point is to go through all of them and choose the scaling of the drill that aligns with what you are capable of doing.
Test and Retest
With all drills, workout and training it’s always a good idea to do a baseline – TEST, and a future state test – RETEST.
Take a record of your current running times and abilities for each of the drills when you first attempt them. The idea is to circle back and Retest each of at preplanned intervals to establish efficacy.
This looks at the movement requirements you will have of your joints. Some of the drills are designed to work and improve your range of motion to enhance your barefoot running.
Stability And Mobility
The drills will be aiming to get one of two things done, either to increase your stability at your core or for mobility and range of motion at your ankles knees and hips.
Posture And Alignment
Increased stability and mobility is the natural progression, and it will facilitate improved posture and alignment when you are barefoot running.
Barefoot Running Drills
Don’t Bother too much about the names of them; they are often called different things depending on where you and who is telling you about it. we will focus on the mechanics of the movement.
On your toes or the balls of your feet hop forward keeping maximum springiness then do the same backwards. Ensure that you keep your knees soft and relaxed during the movement. Do this drill from side to side to add some variation.
On the balls of your feet with straighter legs than the standing hops but also with soft knees, bounce continuously up and down. Aim to get as much height off the ground as possible, stretch and point your toes during the jump.
In the upright position, arms on the waist with your eyes looking at the horizon, take a step forward. Step forward until the trail legs knee touches the ground, and the front leg knee is at a right angle. From this position drive the hips some ore into the ground, then stand. Repeat with the other leg.
This is a variation of the Lunge except here on the at the return phase of the movement spring up and transition to the other lead leg. Remain stationary during this movement.
Variation of the Lunge, in this movement, however, the follow on from the stand-up phase is to step forward. Repeat this and keep moving forward. The emphasis should be on the hip stretch and ankle stretch. You can do this drill weighted as well with a kettlebell or Dumbell.
Regular Bounce Jump rope
In the upright position, with relaxed shoulders, Jump rope with a bounce of the balls of the feet. Turnover the rope as quickly as possible keeping your knees soft. Bounce as little as possible, as the jump rope is no more than a centimetre thick. Finally, If you cannot skip then you can do the regular bounce movement without a rope, don’t forget to relax and breathe, this will keep the drill efficient. see more in my other article on barefoot jump roping here
Running With a Jump rope
Jump rope as you do with the regular bounce jump rope drill. Transition into a run, cover as much distance as you can and return to your starting point.
Agility Ladder Drills
Using an agility ladder laid out on a flat surface, do a series of quick steps outlining each of the corners of the ladder. Keep your knees high throughout the drill as you execute, making different shapes along the outline of the ladder. Once you get to the top of the ladders, turn round and repeat.
As the name denotes, look for an elevated stretch or a hill and run sprints to the top and run back down. It’s that simple. Do as many sprints uphill as required at intervals to get you ready for your run.
Stand on the edge of the curb balancing on the balls of your feet. Spring up and hop backwards off the kerb onto the road and hop back on to the curb.
Air Squat Elevated Single Leg Squat
Stand with one foot on a sturdy elevated platform. Stand on one leg with the other leg raised backwards at the knee. Keeping your torso as upright as possible squat down as low as you can, stretching your ankles. Then stand up and repeat with the other leg
The plank is a favourite position because it works the core muscles. Get into the top of the push-up position with your arms extended and fully locked out. Ensure that you glute are in line with your shoulders and feer and not elevated. Keep your abdominals and glutes tight and hold the position. Count to thirty for thirty seconds remembering to breathe. Do several sets of this drill. read my detailed article on barefoot planks here
This drill is a close relative of plank just described. Start with the plank position then transition onto your side with one arm still extended on the ground and this time lege together and your feet on top of one another. The other arm can rest on the hip or be extended skywards. Once again hold the position and count to 30 with this abs and glutes remembering to breathe.
Also known as the ass to grass (ATG) squat this movement requires that you get into the squatting position with your feet flat on the ground and you as relaxed as possible. Since this is more of a mobility drill, rock from side to side gently stretching your ankles and opening up your hips by driving your knees outward with your elbows as far as possible.
Band Assisted Figure Four Run
Start with a resistance band around your waist and the other end attached to a fixed point. Raising the knees as you drive forward so that the shape of figure four is created from profile view (hence the name Figure 4) lean forward into the movement and run in place to practice the running form.
Standing Figure Four
From the upright standing position get into the figure 4 running position and hold it for as second. Then transition to the other leg. ensure that you have correct form as describes above
Standing Figure Four Against The Wall
Do the same but against a wall to ensure that you have the right position.
Buddy Assisted Figure Four Runs
Do the same as above but with a buddy. Get your buddy to place their hands in front of you locked out on your shoulders holding you in place as you do the drill.
Running In place
Also called running on the spot get into the running motion, forefoot striking and raising the knees as high as possible.
Exaggerated Knee Raises
From the standing position raise each knee as high as you can, then use both arms to pull the raised knee to the chest in the upright standing position.
Running Extended Split Skip
This one of my favourite drills because of the “Monty Python” throwback. You Run, jump, skip and split in the air at the same time. Repeat.
Now that you have all of this information you can use it to build your set of drills that you can use alternately. These drills should be mixed and use as required on a continuous basis to keep you from getting injured while improving your performance.
The ideal mix that I suggest you go for is a fifty-fifty split between stability and mobility drills and posture and alignment drills. Do them as often as you run to keep you in shape.
Don’t forget to test and retest so that you are always aware of which set of drill have the right level of efficacy for the task ahead. You may be training for a big run or event or recovering from injury, do your self the justice of getting the right drill to get you through. Have a look at my other article on foot strengthening exercises here
It will all be worth it I promise.
Happy drill work and as always have fun.