6 1/2 min of Strength Training

Today's topic in the Runner's Lounge is: If you could spend 6 1/2 minutes each day building your strength to benefit your running, what would you do? What are some of the most effective strength training exercises you do to help you run faster, longer or more comfortably?

I would say it's all about the squat, baby (for me anyway). Personally, I like the lateral squat machine (meaning you're sitting upright, pushing your feet on a flat plate/platform straight out in front of you). The reason the squat is so great is that it engages so many major muscles to work together that are vital for strong running legs.

Here's my routine:
1)Using both feet, do one set of 12 at a moderate-high weight (one that makes it difficult to finish that last rep) with a small medicine ball in between your knees. The medicine ball addition was a trick my physical therapist showed me. It requires the inner and outer muscles of your legs to be firing at the same time because you're not only pushing away from yourself, but also inward to keep that ball from falling.

2)Then, I alternate doing a set of one legged squats (at a lower weight of course) on the same machine, on each leg, without the med ball. This forces the glute, hip, quad, hamstring and knee to function together without relying on the other leg (in case one of your legs is a bit stronger than the other).

I do #1 and #2 three times total so it goes like this:
double leg squats with ball (12, right leg squats (12), left leg squats (12)
double, right, left
double, right, left
*If you need a break in between sets, get up and grab a drink of water, stretch out those legs, or super set by doing some bicep curls with dumbbells.

The important thing here is that you are doing some kind of strength training. I've been weight lifting regularly since 8th grade so I'm very comfortable in a gym, but I know that it can be intimidating to lift around a lot of beefy, obnoxious guys. If you need some moral support, hire a trainer or grab a girlfriend and hit the weight room. Just be sure you know what you're doing so you don't make a fool of yourself or more importantly, injure yourself.


Amber said…
I definitely agree with you on getting a personal trainer if you don't know what you're doing. I've also been going to the gym regularly since I was 14 and I've had two personal trainers so I don't feel intimidated in the gym either but I know lots of people who do.

I have a love/hate relationship with squats and lunges. I HATE doing them because oh man do they ever burn, especially one-legged squats, but I LOVE the way they make my legs and butt look. Plus I actually enjoy the sore feeling I get the next day, it makes me feel like I worked hard!
Amber said…
PS: How many days a week do you strength train? I've switched it up through the years, last summer I was doing it five days a week for 30-45 minutes, doing chest/triceps one day back/biceps one etc. Now that I've been running lots I've started just doing a full body workout twice a week, it takes about 60 minutes to do.
Sassy Molassy said…
I usually do about 30 min of weight training 2-3 times per week. Since I really just have to squeeze it in here and there on my lunch hr or whatever, I focus on the things that will give me the most bang for my buck so to speak and these squats are one of them. Lunges are great too with a weight bar on your shoulders. No pain no gain! :) Pushups are another great full body strengthener that I try to squeeze in every morning before work.
Denise said…
I love squats and lunges. I call Sunday "Squat Sunday" and do all my leg training by different lunges, squats, etc.
Anonymous said…
good post!! Lunges are definitely my fave, goes back to my Soccer days. ;) But squats?! wheewww. My TBL workout DVD is allll about those damn things and I am Always sore. but I love it! It's good to know I'm working a muscle that the runs aren't strengthening.

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