The secret to improving your running game
When it comes to preparing for an endurance event such as running, swimming or cycling, spending time in the weights room is just as important as gradually building up your kilometres.
Runners need to build up their lower body and core strength, as well as balance and mobility to be able to go the distance. But knowing what exercises to do in the weights room is crucial, otherwise you’re just going to waste your time.
Whether you’re training for a marathon, triathlon or just your local 5km, try these five strength exercises to improve your performance. Not only will they strengthen the key muscles around the joints, but they will also reduce the risk of injury and improve stability throughout the ankle, knee, hip, shoulder and wrist.
Kettle bell single leg dead lifts
The goal with this exercise is to concentrate on controlling your movements rather than doing a lot of average reps quickly.
Stand straight with a kettle bell in your right hand. Keep your stomach sucked in and your shoulders back. Plant your left heel on the ground, as your left leg is going to support your body. Slowly move your right leg back towards the wall behind you, so that it is parallel to the ground. Your hips must remain straight, while the front of your body leans forward with the weight carrying you down. Now, slowly bring yourself back up to a standing position.
When you run, you only have one foot on the ground at a time, so this exercise will improve your balance, core and leg strength. Beginners can shorten their range of movement and use something to lean on. If you want to make this exercise more challenging, you can stand on an unstable surface and add more weight.
Andrew Pap training for his events
When you do a step up, you must only use your rear leg to balance. Your hips and your knees must remain straight throughout the entire movement.
Find a step that is around 30 to 50cm high. Step your right foot onto the step. Make sure you are balanced while you drive your left knee up to the height of your hip. Put your left foot back on the ground and repeat.
This exercise activates the deep abdominal core muscles and should be included in every runner’s workout routine. The key with this move is to ensure there is always tension between the hand and knee.
Lie on your back with your arms extended in front of your shoulders. Bend your hips and knees to a 90 degree angle. Tighten your abs and press your lower back into the ground. Slowly extend your left leg towards the floor and bring your right arm overhead. Keep your abs tight the entire time. Slowly return your leg and arm to the starting position and repeat the move with the opposite limbs. If you would like to increase the intensity level, hold the extension for longer and do more reps.
Andrew Pap training for his events
Kettle bell front squats
It is important to strengthen your quads, as they are heavily relied upon when running or bike riding downhill. Strengthening the surrounding muscles around the knee will also help with stability.
With this exercise, make sure your movements are controlled and focus on keeping your back straight and your core engaged.
Hold a kettle bell in front of you at chest height. Stand straight with your feet at shoulder width apart and slightly angled. Squat down slowly, keeping your chest up and your core switched on. Slowly push yourself back up to a standing position.
Suspended Supine row
This exercise will help strengthen your upper back and improve your posture for running, swimming or cycling. Having a good posture in an endurance event does so much more for you than just keeping you upright. It helps you avoid taking shallow breaths, shorter strides or straining your back and hamstrings.
Using a TRX, suspend your straps at around chest height. If you are using a bar, find one that would be suitable around the same height. Take hold of the TRX or bar and lean back, keeping your body straight and your head and chest up. Your arms should be fully extended for the starting position. Begin by flexing the elbows and push your chest up towards the TRX or bar. The end of the rep will be when your chest is around one inch from your hands. Then slowly lower yourself back down.
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