Many of us recently started to run 5k, 10k or even longer distances, as a new way to get fit and feel oxygenated. There are some fundamental exercises that we can do to reinforce our core, back and lower body muscles to build foundational running strength, feel stronger overall and minimize injury.
Contrary to what we might think, to improve our pace, get stronger and run faster, we need to ensure our entire body is being challenged. For instance, when we run, our abs and back muscles work hard to stabilize our spine. Strengthening our core and all the muscles around it will help our legs also grow stronger. Once you perform the exercises below, the routine will reveal any areas of weakness that you must focus on. Plus these exercises are quite simple and can be done anywhere. It is in fact the perfect low impact workout to gain new levels of strength.
Improve your explosive force and power with static tension
The principle of static tension (also called isometrics) is to hold a position with tension. By doing such exercises, our body is challenged to get stronger and we definitely gain new levels of strength. When added to a fitness regimen, static tension helps generate a lot of explosive force and more power.
We contract a particular muscle for an extended period of time. It involves muscle engagement without movement. Instead we pick a position and hold it. During an isometric contraction, which can last 8-10 seconds, the body learns to recruit more of the motor strength that control those fast twitch fibers inside that muscle.
Stand with your back against a wall, your feet hip- width apart and your hands by your sides.
Slide down the wall until your hips and knees are 90 degrees, with your shoulders and butt touching the wall.
Hold until fatigued.
Calf Raise Hold
Start by raising your heels and lift your body off the ground Once you get as high as you can go, hold this position for one minute, then slowly come back down.
As your body gets comfortable with this new stress, you can add another 30 seconds at a time, until you reach five minutes.
Lie supine with the arms and legs in the air and the knees bent. Flatten out the lumbar spine so there is no gap between the floor and the lower back.
Pinch your shoulder blades down, and position your feet just in front of your body, with your legs straight. Engage your core. Your body should form a gentle C shape.
Holding a heavy dumbbell or kettlebell in the front position with both hands in front of your chest, elbows tight to your sides, lower into a squat. Hold at the bottom of your range of motion (ideally parallel or just below) for 5 seconds, then press through your heels and return to standing. Repeat 5 times or more.
Sumo Squat Hold
Get down to a squat, stay 10-20 seconds and create as much tension as possible intrinsically in a perfect position (keeping the tension in our legs, core and even upper
body). Rest for 20 seconds. Variation: Next, try the same squat again harder and longer than the first time. Do that a few rounds (see video above).
Grasp pull-up bar with hands shoulder-width apart. Pull yourself up until your upper chest is even with the bar.
With elbow down, focus on squeezing the shoulder blades together and hold the position for 1-2 minutes.
Grab a pull-up bar with an overhand grip, your hands two shoulder- widths apart, and let your body hang. Draw your shoulders down and back to raise your shoulders just slightly toward the bar. Hold until fatigued.
Grab a pull-up bar with an underhand grip, your hands shoulder-width apart, and let your body hang. Pinch your shoulder blades down, then bend your elbows until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Hold until fatigued.