Here’s a quick exercise tip for those who are training for some endurance running: don’t skip the weights.
Mechanical stress, particularly weight lifting, is terrific for increasing bone density, muscle mass, and reducing body fat. One of the best things you can do if you’re a male or female runner is increase your strength. For years, I neglected weight training that focused on my lower body. I figured running alone would strengthen my legs, and lifting could be more dedicated to my arms, chest, back, shoulders, core, etc.
But the truth is, when you’re running, being able to harness power from the quadricep femoris (the group of four rather large muscles in your thigh), the biceps femoris muscle (in the back of your thigh, responsible for the knee flexion and thigh extension), and other muscles in your legs is crucial.
For one, gaining proper thrust is crucial to keep and maintain any kind of pace that is short of a snail’s crawl, and secondly, traversing terrain that will entail hills and various elevation changes will require you to have leg strength.
Since I began placing a new focus on strengthening my legs, I’ve seen an increase in running performance, despite still trying to regain respiratory output from my auto accident.
Here is a quick lifting circuit that will provide a terrific workout to MULTIPLE muscle groups, including your lower body, such as the quads and glutes.
This circuit comes courtesy of the September issue of Men’s Health magazine.
For females, be sure to use a lower weight that you can manageably lift. For men, try performing this circuit with your body weight.
Set up three standard 45-lb barbells loaded with the weight of your choosing, and rotate to each station.
First, do five reps of a standard bench press. Using a grip that is roughly shoulder width, lift the bar off its resting place, and draw it toward your sternum at nipple level, bringing your scapulae closer together into the center of your back. Explode to thrust the bar upward. Do five repetitions before heading to your next station.
Next, the deadlift. With a weighted barbell, stand with your shins against the bar, with your hands in an overhand grip, shoulder width apart. Bend at your hips and knees. With your back kept flat, thrust your hips forward while lifting the at a standing position. Pause, then lower the bar in a controlled manner. Try not to do this entire lift with your back. Keep your legs, hips, and arms engaged to help prevent injury. Start the lift by pushing through your heels, and make sure you push your hips forward during the lift, and make sure to engage your glutes, thereby maximizing total muscle group involvement. An inefficient lift here makes for a dangerous lift. Do five repetitions, and then move on.
You will move on to the squad, which most people are familiar with. Make sure your feet are roughly shoulder width apart. Hold the bar across your back/shoulders, using an overhand grip to anchor the back in place. Lower your body until your thighs are roughly parallel to the floor, and then explode vertically to return to the upright position. Do five repetitions.
Perform five reps of each exercise, resting perhaps a minute in between sets. Do each stations five times (or until failure). You will have worked out a great deal of your entire body with this circuit.