Saturday, June 20, 2009

Want to Up Your Running Game?

Circuit training is a great way for runners to up their game by improving their strength, flexibility, and stamina.

The following circuit training session works all areas of your body—Upper, Core, Lower—and consists of 8 exercises. Each exercise is performed for 20 reps (unless otherwise directed) followed by a 20-second rest period before moving on to the next exercise. At the end of the circuit, there's a 90-second rest period before completing the circuit again. The complete circuit session of 8 exercises is repeated 3 times The circuit will work all areas of your body—Upper, Core, Lower, and Total.

If the circuit is too challenging at first, try decreasing the number of repetitions of each exercise from 20 to 15 or 10. To increase the difficulty level of the circuit, increase the number of repetitions of each exercise from 20 to 25. Another way to increase the difficulty level is to up the repetitions of the complete circuit from 3 repetitions to 4 or 5 repetitions.

Adding a weekly circuit-training session to your routine will have you running strong in no time!

1. The Lunge—Stand with your feet at about hip's width. Step forward with the right foot. Once the foot is planted, continue to move forward until the right knee moves over the foot. Your left knee should be moving toward the floor. Repeat with the left leg. That's one repetition.

Challenge: Try a Box Lunge—stand on a bottom step that's about 8-inches high. Step forward with your right leg. When your foot is firmly planted, continue to bend your knee until it's at 90°. Reverse the movement by pushing up and backward off the right foot back to the step. Repeat with the left foot. Balance is the key with this advanced exercise. Use those core muscles to help stabilize your movements.

2. Calf Raise—Stand with the balls of your feet on the edge of a step with your heels hanging off the step. Slowly, rise up on your toes. Your body should make a straight line from your ankles, to your knees, to your hips, to your shoulders. Slowly, lower yourself back down. That's one repetition.

Challenge: Try tucking your left foot behind your right heel and do 10 reps. Then, tuck your right foot behind your left foot and do 10 reps.

3. Squat Jump—Stand straight, arms at your sides bent at 90°. Do a deep squat with your arms at your sides bent at 90°. Leap upward with a burst of energy as high as you can go. When you land, go immediately back into your deep squat. That's one repetition.

Alternative: To add an upper body element, get in the starting deep squat position and then put your hands out in front of you with your fingers touching the ground. Then, when you leap upward, raise your arms above you head and extend them as far as you can. Then return to the starting position upon landing.

4. Single-Leg Pelvic Lift—Lie on your back with your knees bent, arms at your sides, palms down. Cross your left leg over the right leg so that the left ankle is resting just below the right knee. Slowly lift your pelvis toward the sky while tightening your glutes. Continue lifting until your back is straight but not arched. Slowly return to the floor. That's one repetition. Do 10 reps with the left leg crossed and 10 reps with the right leg crossed.

5. Push-Ups—Lie face down on the floor. Place your palms on the floor at about shoulder level, fingers straight forward. Your elbows should be kept close to your torso. Lift your body just a little so that the weight is balanced on your toes and your palms. Your back and legs are a straight line. Push up so that your arms are almost fully extended. Do not lock the elbows; they should be slightly bent. Return to the starting position. This is one Repetition.
Alternative: To work the triceps and back, bring your palms closer together so that the thumbs and index fingers of each hand touch creating a diamond shape underneath the chest on the floor.
6. The Bridge—Begin by lying on your back with feet on the floor hip distance apart and your knees bent arms by your sides. Next, contract your stomach muscles and pull your hips up by tightening your glutes until your body forms a diagonal from knees to your chest and shoulders. Hold for 5-10 second. Then drop your hips 5 to 6 inches to the ground while keeping your stomach contracted. Be sure to maintain proper form by keeping your back straight at the top of the exercise. Pause briefly, then repeat. This is one repetition. Begin with 10 repetitions and work your way to 15 or 20.

Challenge: When you're at the top of the exercise and your pelvis is lifted, straighten each leg (one at at time) while still keeping the pelvis level.

7. The Clam—Lie on your left side with both knees bent at a 45° angle. Rest your head on your left arm. As you exhale, lift your right knee up, keeping your ankles together. Hold for 10 seconds. Slowly lower the leg back down. Repeat 10 times. Then flip to your right side and repeat the process by lifting the left leg. Repeat 10 times.

Challenge: Tie a resistance band around your thighs (above the knees) and repeat the same movement.

8. Side Plank—Lie on your right side, ankles together, your torso propped on your right forearm. Lift your body up until you form a diagonal line from your ankles to your shoulders. Hold for 20 seconds. That's one repetition. Flip to your left side and repeat the process. Do 5 reps on each side.

Challenge: Once you're in the diagonal position lift the top leg toward the sky with your toes pointing forward; then return. Repeat 5 times on each side.


JenZen said...

Great circuit! I do several of those on my gym training days, but you showed me some new ones that I want to add. Jump squats are killer but give great results btw. Nice post!

Relentless Forward Commotion said...

I do this awesome workout DVD called "Ripped 1000" by Jari Love, and it's basically a combo of everything you just mentioned with some arm/weight work. It kicks my butt, and it works better for me when someone tells me what to do and when, haha! (p.s. got my gift card! sending you a picture today via email thanks again!!!)

RunnerDude said...

Hey JenZen! Thanks for the feedback! Glad mine had some new stuff you could use.

RunnerDude said...

Hey Heather!
I'll have to check into that DVD. Sounds good. I do better when someone tells me what to do to.
Glad the gift certificate arrived! Look forward to the picture!!

RunnerDude said...

Hey JenZen and Heather! Be sure to tell your running buddies about the Most Worn-Out Running Shoe contest. Should be lots of fun.

Jessica Lane said...

Hey! Good post! I have been hearing about how beneficial circuit training is but I never found something targeted to running. I'll definitely try this out!

Berry Girl said...

love this. I've been starting to add some plyo-type stuff to my circuit, like your squat jumps.

Do you ever throw in some cardio? Like do the upper body portion, then run a mile, then do the lower body portion, then run a mile, then the core, and run a mile...?

RunnerDude said...

Hey Jessica! Let me know what you think after you've done the circuit.

RunnerDude said...

Hey Berry Girl! I have added in cardio during the circuit, but that's a cool idea! I'll have to give it a try! Thanks!!

Jo Lynn said...

Yes, I want to up my running game!! Can you come to California and work out with me? PLEEEEEAAAZE?

I need a motivator! ;)

RunnerDude said...

Hey Jo Lynn! Send me a plane ticket! LOL!

Berry Girl said...

just a quick question - the Clam...what does that work?

RunnerDude said...

Hey Berry Girl! Another name for the Clam is "Lying Hip abduction." Basically it enhances hip stability by conditioning the hip abductors and hip external rotators. It also activates the gluteus medius another hip stabilizer.

Bruce said...

this looks like a great routine. Its somethingthat I really need so thanks.

RunnerDude said...

Hey Bruce! Sure thing! Let me know what you think of the routine.

Kathy said...

I was going to do these after I did yoga (Ashtanga) this morning, but honestly, I was pretty beat. Do you have any idea how well Ashtanga works the core (other than calf raises)?

RunnerDude said...

I'm not familiar with all the aspects of Ashtanga, but in general most types of yoga help improve core strength.