As the days start to get longer and warmer more of us will start to migrate away from our indoor gym workouts and flock to the hills and trails for our workouts. We can run hills, do our speed work, tempo runs and distance runs on the fresh spring trails; the things we have waited all winter for. Remember that indoor workouts have their place in any running routine. A lot of the foundational work we have discussed takes place indoors and our strength training still needs to be a part of the weekly workouts.
This month Jamie and I will take you through exercises for strengthening your quadriceps (muscles above your knee), gluteal (butt) muscles, calf muscles and core. The exercises will build upon your foundation and begin to build strength and endurance in some of the muscles you will need ready to handle your spring running. Once again the videos will be linked to a youtube page for you to view as needed. Our brief introductory is below and further information will be on the youtube page.
We hope you are enjoying your running, training and racing!
This exercise is great for building functional strength in the quadriceps and gluteal muscles. The quadriceps absorb shock, control the knee and are needed to run hills well. The gluteals control the knee as well, propel you forward and stabilize your pelvis. There are many variations and we just started with the most basic. In the video you will see an air squat. At home or the gym you may use a ball against a wall, do a static wall squat, or hold on to a counter. In standing, your feet can be between hip width to slightly wider then shoulder width apart to start. Find neutral spine stacking rib ring over pelvic ring. Squeeze your butt muscles and push your butt back keeping your chest up. You do not want your knees to go past your toes and your knees should move over the second toe (not inside of the big toe or over your little toe). Your heels and toes should maintain contact with the ground. Try to maintain neutral spine throughout the squat. This can be hard for a lot of people and that is why using a counter or a wall can help with balance so you can focus on building strength in a safe. Beginners can start with 2 sets of 10-15 in a way they choose; more advance people can start with 3 sets of 15. These can be done 2 times per week.
Having strong calf muscles are important for ankle stability, absorbing shock and pushing you forward. The two main calf muscles are focused on with differently with a straight knee and bent knee.
Straight knee: This variation will work your more superficial calf muscle. First, find a step where your heels cannot touch the ground and you have something to hold on to for balance. Put the ball of your feet on the edge of the step. Slowly lower yourself until you feel a slight stretch in the Achilles. Press through your second toe coming up high enough so your heels are above your toes.
Bent knee: This variation will work a deeper calf muscle. Use the same step as in the straight knee heel raise. Bend the knee about 45 degrees. Maintain your knee bend without letting the knee go past your toes. Keeps a steady pace as you move up and down over the ball of the foot.
Beginners can start with 2 sets of 10-20 reps trying to increase to 3 sets of 20 reps. If you are advanced you can use one leg. Be careful not to lean too much into whatever you are holding onto for balance. This can be done 1-2 times per week.
Side-plank on knee:
This exercise is great because it will start to incorporate more of your abdominal muscles as well as the muscles on the outside of your hip (we worked them last month in the side lying leg lifts). Lie on your side, with your bottom knee bent, your top leg will be straight and your forearm under your shoulder. Set your pelvic floor and transverse abdominal muscles. Press your body up using your forearm and your buttock muscles on the bottom leg. Beginners try to hold for 20 seconds and start with 3-4 sets. You want to make sure you shoulder is not getting sore doing this exercise. If you are doing well you can increase holds up to 90 seconds for 3 sets. Advanced people can hold as long as they can maintaining good form and inner core muscle setting, then rest for 30 seconds and repeat holding as long as you can, rest 30 seconds and repeat. Do this for 4 minutes. This can be done 2-3 times per week.
Bird- dog prep:
We know… funny name, but a great exercise for getting your back stabilizer muscles working with your butt muscles. From a hand and knee position with hands under shoulders and knees under hips, set your inner core muscles (from last month). Bring one leg back without your back moving. Hold that position for 2 breathing cycles (in-out, in-out) then bring the leg back in. Repeat with the other side. Repeat for 1-2 minutes and do 2 sets.
Matt Schweitzer, DPT, OCS, CSCS
Jamie Terry, DPT, SCS, CSCS
150 E. Spruce St. Ste. A
Missoula, MT 59802