Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Strength Training At Home

This week started out with a rude awakening. Snow on April 18.

Springtime in Michigan is almost worse than winter-- one week it's 80 degrees and the next it's snowing (literally!). Such a tease.

This week is the last week of classes and the start of finals on campus. Sadly, this means my strength training for runner's class is over :(. I've showcased some of the moves from class in these two posts, but tonight I created my own at home circuit from the best moves I learned this semester.

Strength training is super important for runners! Not only does it keep you strong, it makes you faster and less prone to injury. Strong muscles=healthy runner. I firmly believe this class helped me achieve a 15 minute PR at the DC half marathon.

Let's get down to it. Here's my "home gym" equipment:
An old $10 yoga mat, 2 10lb dumbbells and a foam roller.

Counterintuitive it might be, only running won't give you strong legs. You need to use weightlifting to strengthen your hips, knees and ankles and maintain muscle density to really power your running.

In class, we always start out with the same circuit: we do a squat/lunge series as follows. 15 squats, 15 front lunges (alternate legs), 15 squats, 15 back lunges (lunge backwards), 15 squats, 15 jumping lunges (jump from lunge to lunge), 15 squats, 15 side lunges. I do this while holding 2 10lb weights. These work your hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings and hips.

Then we get into what trainer Bob calls the 'dunkin' series. Start out kneeling on your hands and knees. Place a dumbbell in the crook of your knee and lift your leg to a 90 degree angle from your body.
Repeat 15 times, each side.

After that, return to the same kneeling position and kick your leg back out behind you at a 90 degree angle.
Repeat 15 times, each side. These moves work your hips, glutes, quads and hamstrings.

Then, we repeat the same movements only from starting facing up, hands on your hips with your knees on the ground, 15 times each side, each move. This is especially good for your hips!

A strong core is key for running. Not only does your core power your legs and keep you upright, it also aids in efficient breathing and posture. We do a few series of crunches and situps, one of which is as follows. 15 regular crunches, 15 crunches with legs flat on the ground, 15 crunches with legs in the air, 15 crunches with legs in butterfly position, 15 situps. Repeat! We also do a number of other ab moves, many of which require a stability ball.

One move that has done a number on my abs is this leg-lift side-crunch. Start by laying on your back. Then, lift one leg into the air and crunch up to reach it. Holding dumbbells, turn to the side of the raised leg. Return to start position, then do the other leg. Repeat 15 times each side.
I do this holding my 2 10lb weights but it took me all semester to work up to it! It's hard, but the results are visual!

Foam Roller:
Finally, there's the foam roller. This tool isn't meant for strength training as much as massaging tight muscles. I picked this one up for $20 at Meijer with the purpose of rolling my sore IT band. Here's the position for the IT band roll:
Basically you use your body weight to slowly roll over a hard piece of foam, providing deep tissue massage and therapeutic benefits. Don't get me wrong: it hurts like heck! I yelped the first time I rolled my IT band, but it's helped the pain and inflammation immensely. I'm a new convert!

Note on foam rolling: never, ever roll over your joints!

Finally, remember to have fun and be safe with strength training! A healthy practice can greatly add to your running or other sport workouts. Plus, muscles are sexy :)
Bigcat thinks you look hot.

How do you strength train?


  1. This is an amazing post =) Thank you, I learned a lot *and* you made me laugh "Bigcat thinks you look hot"

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. I was just thinking about how I was going to work in some strength training at home, so this is very timely, indeed! Thank you!

  4. Beautiful post..thanks for sharing here.. Sports Good


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