Category Archives: Cross Trainnig

Friday Fitness

glute-bridge

Squeeze those cheeks!

Because both Friday and Fitness start with the letter ‘f’, let’s make Friday the day when I share my favorite exercises, workouts, or other fun things (fun  also starts with ‘f’, by the way).

Today’s fitness fun is a workout that focuses on your running muscles, primarily hips and glutes, with some core and upper body work added in for an extra dose of strength. I’m not going to describe each exercise in detail, since you can easily find demonstration videos on Youtube.

Single Leg Deadlift w/Dumbbell – 3 sets of 12 reps each This exercise strengthens your glutes and hamstrings, and if you lift your nonworking leg while you lower the dumbbell, it pulls the core muscles in as well.

Single Leg Glute Bridges – 3 sets of 20 reps each  This is my absolute favorite butt exercise. Squeeze those cheeks together at the top of the lift like you’re trying to hold the winning lotto ticket between your cheeks!

Side Plank w/Leg Lifts – 3 sets of 12 reps each  Make sure your body is aligned in a straight line, and the leg you lift is obviously the top leg. If your hips aren’t strong enough to do this with straight legs, go ahead and bend the supporting leg.

Hip Hikes – 3 sets of 30 reps each  Your hip should be on fire by the 30th repetition of this one!

Lateral Band Walk – 3 sets of 15 reps each direction (side to side)  Loop the band right about your ankles and take a big enough step to the side so that you really feel the resistance of the band against the side of your glute.

Pushups – 3 sets of 12 reps each

Pullups – 3 sets of as many as possible You may only get 1 or 2 reps on this one, but keep working on it and you’ll get stronger.

Straight Leg Raise – 3 sets of 15 reps  Lay on your back, hands underneath your low back and top of butt cheeks for support. Slowly raise and lower both legs together.

This took me about 45 minutes this morning, but if you move quickly through the exercises you can get it done in a half hour. I don’t suggest rushing through, however, since form is very important with these exercises.

 

 

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Power or Plank?

Kettlebell Swing

Is this the new king of core?

Can you hold a plank for more than a minute? Do you diligently hit the mat for your daily dose of core work before or after every run? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you might want to consider trading in some of your planking time for some good old strength and power work.

Open any running magazine and you’re sure to find at least one article extolling the virtues of core work for runners. Planks appear to be the king of the core exercises, with most people aspiring to spend as long as possible in the plank position. The internet is full of plank challenges, where the win goes to the person who can hold plank the longest. Some experts, however, are challenging the power of the plank. One of these experts is Dr. Greg Lehman, a physiotherapist, chiropractor, strength & conditioning specialist, and spine and biomechanics expert.

Dr. Lehman believes that general strength and power training for the whole body should be a runner’s first priority, and that hips and calves are the true driving forces and power producers in running. The muscles that are usually thought of as the core (erector spinae, obliques, rectus and transverse abdominis) aren’t big contributors to running mechanics. In fact, these muscles are worked at less than 30% of their maximum during running. According to Dr. Lehman, running itself is like an endurance workout for the core. Why spend more time on what we’re already getting? If we’re going to spend time training our core muscles, we should focus on strength rather than more endurance.

So which exercises should we do to train our core for power? Grab a kettlebell and do some swings. Traditional deadlifts, med ball slams and throws, and tuck jumps are also good choices. The beauty of these exercises is that they work so many more muscles than just the core. If you really miss the plank position, do stability ball rollouts or stir the pot. One exercise that made it to the top of Dr. Lehman’s list is the side plank with leg lifts. This one works the hips too.

Strength and power are becoming more prevalent in the running world. Both are proving to be important for preventing injuries as well as improving running economy and performance. Training the body as a whole instead of as individual pieces not only leads to improved strength and power, it also saves time. Next time you work your core, think power instead of plank.

What are your favorite core exercises? Do you consider the plank one of the essentials?