Whether you’re trying to get in shape for summer or train for an epic test like a marathon, running is a great way to shed pounds, push yourself past limits and just plain get in an awesome workout. But it shouldn’t be your only workout.
“Muscle strength plays an important role in performance and the ability to put up with the demands that running puts on the body,” said Ultimate Performance + Fitness president, personal trainer and fitness instructor Anthony Giallanzo, who operates three gyms in Nassau County. “Any runner with a weak core or muscle group compensates for that weakness by using less efficient movements.”
To help you balance your training regiment, stay injury-free and blow past your PR, add these five strength exercises for runners to your routine.
Why Anthony loves it: “Squats hit a lot of running-specific muscles, don’t require any equipment and can easily be added to your post-run routine.”
What to do: Stand with your feet hip distance apart with your toes facing forward. Sit back like you are sitting in a chair until you feel your glutes, quads and hamstrings engage. You should make about a 90-degree angle with your knees, and your knees should not drift beyond your toes. Come back up to standing. Do 2-3 sets of 10 reps.
Why Anthony loves it: “A single-leg squat requires you to stabilize your pelvis. When your pelvis is stabilized, your entire body, gait and stride become more stable too.”
What to do: Balance on one foot and squat down, bend at the knee and sit your hips back as if you are going to sit in a chair behind you. Once your knee is bent at a 90 to 115 degree angle, extend your leg back up to standing. If this is too challenging allow the toes of your hovering foot to lightly rest on the ground. Do 2-3 sets of 10 reps.
Physioball Leg Curl
Why Anthony loves it: “This is my favorite hamstring exercise. It hits so many secondary muscles in addition to the gluteus maximus and hamstrings like the rectus and transverse abdominis, gluteus medius and minimus, gastrocnemius and obliques.”
What to do: Lie face up on the floor with heels on a physioball. Tighten your glutes until your body is in a straight line from ankles to shoulders. Keep your hips high and pull your heel toward your glutes. Let the ball roll back slowly as you straighten your legs. Keep your glutes activated and do not let hips drop as you pull your heels in. Do 2-3 sets of 10 reps.
Single Leg Glute Bridge
Why Anthony loves it: “Your ability to generate a powerful stride comes from the hips, hamstrings and glutes.”
What to do: Lie flat on your back with one leg bent and foot flat on the floor or a stability ball for added difficulty. Raise the other leg straight in the air. Slowly lift your pelvis off the ground by contracting your glutes and core while keeping your shoulder blades flat on the ground. Do 2-3 sets of 10 reps.
Why Anthony loves them: “If you don’t have hours to spend in the gym it’s always best to focus on core muscles and not just abs. Back muscles are just as important and are often ignored.”
What to do: There are hundreds of exercises to do to strengthen your core. “Crunches, planks, the bicycle, reverse crunch—they are all effective,” he said. “The important issue is doing these exercises often and treating them as just as an important part of your training schedule as your weekly long runs or speed drills.” He recommends working your core two to three times per week.