Many runners have a misunderstanding about strength training. They believe that it will just add weight to your body, thus making it more challenging to run. While this can be true, there are specific ways to strength train properly to counter this affect.
Strength=Speed: As a runner, I am always trying to improve my speed. Speed comes from more that just being able to run for a long time (endurance). It takes strength. This strength can only be achieved through various ways of strength training. Even just adding in some basic squats and lunges will will help give you the strength you need in order to run faster.
Work More Than Your Legs: With that being said, you have to train more than just your legs. Many runners believe that they only need to strengthen just their legs because, well, obviously that’s all runners use. That could not be further from the truth. The next time you go out for a run, pay attention to all the body parts that are involved. You will realize that when you run, everything is being utilized. Your shoulders are powering the swing in your arms. Your core is stabilizing your trunk so you won’t twist. Your glutes and hamstrings are pulling your legs back. Your quads are driving them forward. The list goes on and on. The bottom line is work everything.
Reduce Risk For Injury: Runners are extremely prone to injury. Your muscles are always being pushed and pulled. That’s where strength training comes in. If you slowly build up the muscle, it becomes tougher. It’s able to undergo more stress. Another way to look at it is when you do strength training, it actually gives you more flexibility. You use your muscles in ways you never have before when running. This added flexibility adds a larger range of motion to protect you from injury.
Work On Single Leg Strength: When you run, your only on just one leg all the time. We need to apply this to our strength training. It helps developed the needed balance, and focuses the strength.
Bulgarian Split Squat:
This will work primarily your hamstrings, glutes, quads, and core. This can easily done with a chair or a couch or anything that is about knee high. At the bottom of the squat, your front knee should be above your ankles, and your back knee should be close to the bench. I recommend being able to do about 15 to 20 of these without weight. Then you can slowly start adding weight.
The deadlift will work your glutes, hamstrings, quads, back, abs, and traps. You need to make sure that your back is as flat as possible. If you don’t follow this rule, it will be the gateway back injuries that will slow down your season. Your feet should be shoulder width apart, and so should your hands. Keep your butt low and your chest high. Then simply stand up slowly, making sure your back and legs move at the same speed. I strongly suggest with starting with low weight and slowly build up, making sure your form is still perfect.
This exercise works your quads, glutes, hamstrings, back, abs, and traps. As you can see, this exercise works the same muscles as deadlifts, but just in a different way. When performing back squats, you feet should be slightly more that shoulder width apart. Line up the bar to make sure you are in the middle of it. Place the bar on your back. Now, squat down. Once again, keep you chest up, and your butt down. Your knees should push out slightly to deter knee injury. Ideally, you want to go bellow parallel (butt bellow your knees). Start light and build your way up while still maintaining perfect form.
Pistol squats work glutes, hamstrings, quads and core. I’m not going to lie. These are probably the hardest squat variation. They take strength, balance, and focus. When performing these insane squats, you start out by finding your balance on your foot. Then slowly squat down on that one leg, while keeping everything else in front of you. Squeeze your abs to help you balance. When starting out, you will definitely need to use progressions. You can start by performing this on a couch or chair. Once you can do that comfortably, move over to something solid that you can hang onto. Perform reps while holding onto the solid object. With practice, you will eventually be able to do them free standing.
Calf raises will work, well, your calves. When performing these, go to a step. You need to be able you lower your heels below parallel (below your tows). The simply extend up to your toes. These are pretty simple, so you likely will be able to use weights on your first go.
Leg raises are an excellent ab workout. To perform this exercise, start by finding something you can hang from. Start from a dead hand (no swaying) and raise your feet up until they are even with your hips. If this is too difficult, try just bringing your knees up. Once you build up strength, you can start getting your toes up to the bar.
These are great for developing the shoulders you need for running. These can be pretty difficult for many people, so start with a low weight. Once you get your weight, place your hands at your sides with your thumbs facing forward. Now, raise your arms to the side, and all the way until the dumbbells are even with your shoulders. Keep building the weight up while keeping good form.
This is another variation of the lateral raise. Grab a plate or two dumbbells. Your thumbs should still be facing forward. Raise your arms up until they are parallel to your shoulders. Slowly build up the weight while keeping perfect form.
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