Category Archives: Move It Monday

Move It Monday: 5 Exercises For Runners

Happy Move It Monday friends!!

Today I’m addressing something I get asked about all the time. What are good strength training exercises for runners?

Well today I am going to give you five. This is not intended to be a full workout, but rather exercises you should add to your already existing strength workout (cause you have one, right??). At least once a week!

These should all be good to do at home too in case you don’t have access to a gym. You may need a few props like dumbbells, a mat, a chair or a bench.

Boat Pose


Source

This is an isometric ab exercise. Meaning there are no reps, just static contraction of the muscle.

Same exact purpose as the more popular plank exercise. But I like giving this one to beginners because the form isn’t as hard to nail. Most people I know do plank wrong because they don’t have the core strength to do it correctly yet.

The above example is actually the advanced version of boat pose. Start in sitting, roll back on to your sit bones, straighten your legs as high as you can get them. Keep your hands to the sides and off your legs. Don’t use them for support. Your spine is always straight and your shoulders are always down and away from your ears.

Source

If the straight leg version is too difficult, then hold your knees at 90 degrees and try crossing your ankles. Remember this is an ab exercise, so contract those abs to steady yourself! The act of running is always asking you to contract your abs to keep you upright and steady. Having a strong core will make you a stronger runner.

Stiff Leg Deadlift


Source

This one is mostly for your hamstrings. Your hamstrings don’t get any stretch while running, that’s why runner’s have such tight hamstrings all the time. Because of this, you’re not strengthening your hamstrings as much as your quads while you run. This muscular imbalance in your thighs can lead to a whole slew of problems including runner’s knee.

For this exercise, it’s important to keep your back straight and shoulders back. People have a tendency to let their shoulders drop towards the floor on the down motion. Don’t do that. You can see the fitness model keeps her scapula retracted the whole time.

Start with light weights, but increase as needed to make 15 reps feel difficult. Keep a slight bend to the knees and look at the floor on your way down. This also works this glutes and hip. Remember to contract those hamstrings to pull yourself up and to keep pressure off the lower back.

Single Leg Squat

Did you know the gluteus maximus is one of the strongest muscles in the body? Did you know that because we sit on our arses all day its weakness can lead to back and leg problems? For runners, particularly iliotibial band syndrome.

Single leg squats are great for your butt, but also your quads and hips. It’s the same exact form as a regular squat, but on one leg! Some people hold their raised foot out in front of them like pictured above. I personally balance better with it bent behind me. Remember to keep the chest moving up and down, not forward, and the butt goes behind the heel. You don’t don’t have to get your thigh parallel to the floor here, just come down as far as you can.

Calf Raises


Source

I know so many people who experience plantar fasciitis pain, and I’m a true believer that it can be significantly decreased by strengthening and stretching the calves. It’s simple really. The calves are connected to the achilles tendon, which is connected to your fascia. Tightness or weakness in the calves can make that achilles tendon and fascia go haywire.

Even if you don’t experience this kind of pain yet, it’s mandatory to do these to keep it away! Don’t worry about getting giant calves. Use your bodyweight (not dumbbells as pictured). Place the toes of one foot on a step or raised surface. Make sure there is something nearby to grasp for balance. Let your heel hang over the edge of the step, then push up on to your tiptoes. Repeat!

Leg Raises

Source

Running is notoriously brutal on your hips. Help strengthen them up with leg raises! Find a horizontal bar to hang from, bend your knees, and using your lower abs and hips, bring them into your chest.

 

If you have access to a gym, many have machines specific for this. It’s also easier than hanging from a bar.

If you’re not at a gym, just grab a chair! It won’t be as challenging, so just do more reps.

And those are my top 5 strength training exercises for runners. Get to working on these asap for your spring training. Bug me about it again in the summer and I’ll give you five more ;) Happy exercising!

Move It Monday – Watch Your Back

Happyhappy Monday friends! I am currently unemployed, so you see, I can be happy that it’s a Monday.

This week’s Move It Monday is still on the theme of upper-body strength the Pipes Challenge inspired. We will be moving to lower-body stuff eventually, promise!

Today’s rant was actually inspired by my mother. She was complaining of a sore chest after doing machine rows at the gym. A back exercise. It dawned on me that almost every person I’ve trained has done a back exercise incorrectly the first time. They also continued to need my nagging even after they knew how to do it correctly.

So I am here to show you how to work your back the right way. I want to make sure it’s your back that’s sore the next day, not some mystery body part from doing it wrong.


                                                                     Source

First we must understand what is happening in your back underneath all that skin. Your muscles are layered all throughout your body, so the right-hand side of the above image are the top-layers and the left-hand side the bottom-layers.

Looking at the above image shows that the back is full of muscles to work! And yet, how many of you zero in to work your rhomboids between bicep sets?

That’s what I thought ;)

I’m going to show you a few exercises to work the above muscles. But just so I don’t have to repeat myself with every one, I want to get one point across right away.

Use your back.

If you’re doing a back exercise like a row or lat pulldown, USE YOUR BACK to move the weight. Don’t use your chest or arms. What is the point of doing a back exercise when you don’t even purposefully use your back to complete it?

The best way to ensure you’re using your back is to keep your shoulders retracted and scapula (“shoulder blades”) locked down. To the point where you feel silly for sticking your chest out. Really focus on what is happening in your back. Start the motion by contracting your back muscles first. Take it slow and go light to make sure you’re really getting in there.

Rhomboids

File:Rhomboidei.PNG
                                                                          Source

The rhomboids are muscles responsible for moving your shoulder blades. Weak rhomboids are often a source of bad posture because of an inability to hold the scapula back.

Exercises:
One arm bent-over dumbbell row
Straight arm pulldown
Reverse fly 

Trapezius

File:Trapezius Gray409.PNG
                                                     Source

Like the rhomboids, your traps control movement of the scapula (shoulder blade) but are also responsible for supporting the arm. Doesn’t sound important now? Just wait until you need to hold your arm up in a plaster cast!

Exercises:
Shrugs
Upright row

Latissimus Dorsi

File:Latissimus dorsi .PNG
                                                       Source

Also known as your “lats.” They are the most powerful muscles in your back. They give your back that “V” shape and are responsible for some arm movements.

Exercises:
Lat pulldown
Seated cable row 

Serratus Posterior

File:Serratus posterior.PNG 
                                                      Source

This deep muscle assists helps your upper body and ribs twist and bend. Because of this, it is highly susceptible to being strained.

Exercises:
Bird Dog
Cat Cow

Serratus Anterior

File:Serratus anterior.png
                                                                                Source

Okay, so this muscle creeps out towards your front a little, but it is still really important for moving the scapula in your back. Which means it will help with posture! There aren’t many isolation exercises for this muscle, but here are some that will do the job:

Dumbbell pullover 
Diagonal cable woodchop
Push up plus 

That’s all for now! There are some I purposely left out, including the rotator cuff muscles as those are better left for a post on shoulders some day. For now, concentrate on hitting the above muscles. Reallyreally think about moving them with each rep. Because you can’t see them working in the mirror, you have to imagine what they look like moving during your set. Otherwise you’re just working all the wrong muscles! Remember to always hold that core in too. Firm it up like you’re about to be punched in the gut. It’ll help.

As always, leave questions/concerns/comments below. Happy exercising!

Move It Monday – DOMS

Happy Monday! Or at least, I hope it was a happy one :)

Today’s Move It Monday is all about PAIN.

I talked recently about dealing with the pain of an injury. But today I’m talking about the kind that while a little less serious, is still annoying nonetheless.

You may have come across the term DOMS before. It’s thrown around a lot in the weight lifting world, and stands for “Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.”

It’s usually experienced one to three days after a workout. Put simply, exercise (especially weight training) causes small tears in your muscle fibres. Muscle building happens when those tears are repaired with a little bit of extra muscle. On average, it takes around 48 hours for these repairs to happen. That’s when your muscles will feel sore and why it’s always recommended to wait a day between working muscle groups.


                                                                                    Source

If you want to get even more into it, DOMS is caused specifically by eccentric motion. That’s the part of a muscle contraction  where the muscle lengthens. Think of a bicep curl. Bringing the dumbbell toward you is the “concentric” part of the contraction where your bicep squeezes and shortens. Bringing the dumbbell down is the eccentric where your muscle is still contracted, but lengthens out. There is also “isometric” which is a static contraction. That’s like an exercise with no reps, such as a plank. The concentric and isometric contractions aren’t as responsible for soreness. The eccentric is.


                                                                          Source

Now that you understand exactly what causes DOMS, it’s time to know ways to manage it. There are a few extra things to consider:

1. Changing your exercise program will likely increase your chances of DOMS. Your body is smart. It will grow accustomed to exercises to the point where those muscular tears no longer happen. Changing your routine will create those tears again, thus bringing on the DOMS!

2. It’s important to leave 48 hours between muscle groups. That means, if you did an upper body workout on Monday, don’t do it again until Wednesday.

3. You can workout if your muscles are still sore so long as you’ve let them rest for a day or two. If soreness lasts pat 72 hours without fading, see a doctor. You may have a deep tear or damaged something.

4. To prevent DOMS, make sure you warm-up, cool-down and stretch after your workout. Drink lots of water!!

5. If an area becomes inflamed, take an anti-inflammatory like Ibuprofen and ice it for 10-15 minutes. I regularly do this on my joints after running.

6. Remember to keep moving. Sitting in the same position for 8 hours after a workout will make your muscles stiff after a workout. Remind yourself to get up and move around even when you’re done your workout for the day.

One thing I also regularly use on muscles is RUB-A535:

IMG_6601

The company sent me some to review for the blog which I happily accepted. I’m already a regular user! It has a soothing, cooling affect. Much like Tiger Balm but not quite as potent. Years ago I used it often on my neck and shoulders which would get sore from mopping at Starbucks. These days I am using it on my left bicep and forearm. They’re always tense and sore because of my broken elbow and I find RUB-A535 helps soothe it out for my physio exercises.

IMG_6599

The company also sent me Arnica, which I have actually never used before. I’ve been using it directly on my broken elbow joint where I often get tender and bruised. I LOVE IT. I mean, it stinks to the high heavens, but I can take it for the relief it gives me.

IMG_6606

My elbow keeps getting bruised because I keep knocking it into things! I have bad special awareness these days considering my elbow is stuck pointing out at 90 degrees all the time. I even banged it on a knife the other day and cut part of my scar open!!

The kind “RUB Gang” have offered some goodies for you too friends!

RUB Arnica Prize Pack

  • Epsom salts
  • Yoga mat
  • Neck pillow
  • Stretching bands
  • Water bottle
  • Hot/cold packs
  • RUB A535 product

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me what your favourite method of pain relief is. Massage? Acupuncture? A stiff drink? Chime in! Contest closes Thursday at 8am ET, winner will be announced in my post that night.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 485 other followers