Thursday, February 13, 2014

Lunge and Squat - A Runner's Best Friend

Ladies and gentlemen, today I am going to talk to you about squats and weights. For most people these are dreaded words, especially if you are a cardio queen or die hard runner. Take it from me, to become a better and faster runner you must incorporate squats and various other weight bearing exercises. I have noticed changes in my race times when I am focusing on cross training and when I am strictly running. I see a huge difference when I do functional exercises to strengthen my leg muscles and upper body. Squats, weighted lunges, planks, push-ups and any body weight exercise will greatly improve your running form, speed and agility. It will also help to prevent injury. 
Today I did a squat routine outside and loved it. You don’t always have to go to the gym to get in a good workout. Mix up the location of your workout and the drills you do for optimal results and to keep your body guessing. There is nothing worse than getting stuck in a rut! A few things to remember when doing squats are to keep your chest up and your back flat. You also want to make sure you sit deep into your squat and keep your booty low to the ground. As a runner, my hamstrings are always tight and getting low in a squat can be hard. Start out slow and work on the moves each day, trying to go lower and hold the exercise longer than the previous day. 
There are many alternate squat positions you can take. The wide-leg squat, regular squat, weighted squat, pulse squat and more. With lunges you can do jumping lunges, regular lunges, side lunges, weighted lunges, cross-back lunges, and many other variations. Make sure you keep mixing up your workouts by trying out different variations and working different muscle groups. Change is your friend and makes your body stronger. 
Here is a quick and simple at-home routine you can do to strengthen your muscles and become a stronger runner. It includes five moves that you repeat 3-5 times depending on athletic ability. Start slow and work your way up as you get stronger. 
  • Wide Leg Squat – 20 Reps
  • Lunge with Rotation – 20 reps alternating legs (10 on each leg)
  • Jump Squats – 20 reps
  • Forward Lunge – 20 reps alternating legs (10 on each leg)
  • Push-ups – 1 minute
You should feel the burn in your thighs and glutes. You should also feel your heart rate go up during the exercises. Be intense during the workout and only take a one minute break between sets. The push-up will change up your movements and help you build a stronger core and upper body. 
Cross training is the backbone of any good run program and should be done at least two to three times a week. Try out these drills and let me know what you think! Do you notice a difference in your running when you cross train?