Saturday, January 25, 2014

Movements every runner, cyclist and triathlete should have in their strength routine

Winter is here. And that means improving on weaknesses.

It also means its a great time to step back from traditional swim, bike, run training and incorporate other training methods. Time to hit the gym!

Here are a few movements I regularly incorporate:

1. Squats - with a barbell, dumbbells, resistance bands, or on top of a Bosu ball, these are my all-time favorite lower body movement. Why? Squats engage all of your lower body's major muscle groups: quads, hamstrings, and glutes. They also build core strength; some even argue more effectively than many of your traditional abdominal exercises. And then there's the hormonal response, which doesn't necessarily always come to mind. But, essentially, when large muscle groups are forced to lift heavy things (particularly during the concentric phase of the movement) there is a significant elevation in several anabolic hormones. Think testosterone and growth hormone.

Good form is essential. Make sure to start out simply with your body weight before progressing. Squatting down onto a box or bench is also extremely helpful if you're just starting out. It's a bit easier to focus on sitting back, ensuring your knees don't shoot out over your feet. Here's a great demonstration.

(Start the video around 2:00)

2. Single-leg Deadlifts - Running and cycling are essentially single-leg movements combined together to form one fluid motion. But if you break down the gait cycle of running or isolate different parts of the pedal stroke, it becomes obvious how important single-leg strength is. When an imbalance occurs between the two legs, that's when things can go wrong with biomechanics. So, I try to isolate each leg as much as possible during my strength sessions. Single-leg deadlifts are one of my favorites. They really target the glutes and hamstrings (hugely important for cycling power), while also forcing you to engage many of the stabilizing muscles in your lower leg. Similar to squats, make sure your knee doesn't cave inward. Start without any weight and slowly progress up to using light dumbbells.

3. Step-Ups - I like step-ups for all the same reasons as single-leg deadlifts. Step-ups are all about building strength and power in the glutes (and also engaging the hamstrings and quads). There are a ton of variations too. Use dumbbells, a barbell, or a weighted vest.

4. Lateral band walks - Ever have IT band syndrome or runner's knee? These and a bunch of other common running injuries can be prevented by doing one thing: strengthening the gluteus medius. These muscles are located on the outside of the pelvis and help support the body when on one leg (i.e. during the stance phase of your running gait, or when your foot is in contact with the ground).

Give these a try and let me know what you think? What are some of your favorite strength exercises?

No comments:

Post a Comment