5 Strength-Training Moves for Runners
By SHAY KOSTABI
Whether you're a pro or leisure runner, functional strength training is key to maintaining proper form, correcting imbalances and improving your pace and speed.
I've been working with a few avid runners to develop simple and effective exercises to improve strength, posture and add some power to their strides.
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Try these five moves on your own or with ReXist360 resistance bands, which help further activate your core, glutes and thighs and are great for working on driving force as well as keeping your joints in alignment. Remember, a strong core and booty will help you run more efficiently.
This exercise works glutes, hip flexors, thighs and core. Start by stepping your right foot back about two to three feet. Move slowly, maintaining balance and making sure your legs form a 90-degree angle in the lunge before pushing off the back foot and driving the knee forward. Try 15 reps on each side.
This is one of my favorites. A deep squat creates strong glutes. Start with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and hands behind head with elbows pulled back behind ears.
Think about squeezing the shoulder blades together and drawing in the navel. Lower hips down to knee level or below and try to keep your chest upright as much as possible. Drive through the heels to return to standing and squeeze glutes at the top. Try 20 reps to start.
This exercise is just like a mountain climber, only performed upright. It activates the hip flexors, helps you practice staying on the toes and light on your feet. Plus, you get the added benefit of a little shoulder and chest work.
Start by pressing your hands on a wall, keeping them in line with your shoulders. Move feet back slightly so that you are on your toes. With core and arms engaged, pull the right knee up toward your chest, hold for two to three seconds, then switch legs.
After a couple of reps, turn it into a jog and then a full sprint for 15 to 20 seconds. Make sure the knee drives up and forward to 90 degrees on every single rep. Try 30-second intervals with 30 seconds of rest in between.
This exercise is great for postural strength and activating the upper-back muscles that so many runners forget about.
Hold one end of a resistance band (or towel) in each hand directly in front of your chest. Pull the band apart as far as you can--about two or three inches. Think about drawing shoulder blades together behind you and keeping the core tight. Do 20 pulls.
Then lift your arms overhead and pull your hands apart as you lower your elbows down to 90 degrees. Do 20 reps.
This exercise strengthens the adductor muscles as well as obliques, transverse abdominals and lower-back muscles.
Start by stepping your right leg to the side and bending the right knee while keeping the left leg straight. As soon as the right knee hits 90 degrees, rotate the torso to the right, keeping your core engaged and chest lifted. Return to start and repeat on the left. Do 20 alternating reps.
Repeat this circuit four times and perform three times a week for a 20-minute strength-training workout you can do before or after your run.
Readers -- Are you an avid or leisure runner? What kind of strength-training exercises to do you do? Have you tried any of the exercises described above? Do you feel like strength training helps you with your running? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Shay Kostabi is a California native and former dancer. She is making waves in the fitness world as a master trainer for ReXist360 Training Bands. Her goal is to inspire people to meet their fitness goals quickly and safely. She has been featured in Well+Good, Goop, SELF, Glamour, Examiner.com, Fitness magazine and on Viera Living Network. She strives to inspire each individual to define their strength and grace through music and movement.
Follow Shay on Twitter and check out rexist360.com.