Get To the Gym and Get More Out of the Winter SeasonThough the dark days of winter may be cutting your mileage short, following a few easy steps can make you stronger and faster for your upcoming races. Steer clear of the mid-winter running blues with these cardio and strength conditioning tips:
- TARGET YOUR CORE: A strong core supports correct posture and running form, especially over long distances. Keep your abs in tip-top shape by performing exercises, like planks and glute bridges, at least three days per week. Bonus: These exercises also work your glutes and back, which are also important to maintaining proper running form.
- STABILIZE THE JOINTS: Rolled ankles and tender knees are just a few common ailments runners encounter. To help keep joint injuries at bay, focus on balance exercises, such as single leg toe touches. Start out with performing one set of 10 touches per leg. As your balance improves, increase the number of reps and sets you perform to gain even more stability. Once you feel comfortable performing a higher number of reps and sets, make this exercise more challenging by standing on a less stable surface, such as an air disc. Perform these movements two to three days a week.
- ENGAGE THE GLUTES: Your glutes are key when it comes to correct running form, but many runners have underactivated glutes from previous injuries or from putting in too many hours at the desk or on the couch. To get your glutes firing, try doing glute bridges, single leg squats, deadlifts and single leg balance exercises. Make sure not to perform these exercises on back to back days.
- LOWER THE IMPACT: Even though running is great for your cardiovascular system, it’s good to mix up how you exercise. Preserve your cardio fitness by using equipment such as the Precor® Adaptive Motion Trainer® and Precor EFX® Elliptical. For best results, select a training program rather the Quick Start button to keep your muscles guessing and expedite results.
- STRENGTHEN YOUR LEGS: Strong legs produce more power, which could help lead you to faster times when you’re back on the race course again. During the off season, choose a well-designed strength program to help build strong leg muscles, as well as reduce the risk of injury. Challenge your hamstrings, quads and glutes by selecting ground-based exercises such as squats and lunges. For more supported training, try using a Precor Leg Press or Squat Machine.
- LOG A FEW MILES: It may be the off season, but maintaining a low to moderate mileage count will ease your transition back into race season. Even though winter weather might prevent you from training outside right now, you can still reap big benefits by training indoors. Training on a Precor treadmill with Ground Effects® provides an optimal training environment that cushions your impact, so you can hit the ground running when better weather rolls around.
Strength and Core Exercise Tips
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Lay hands to the side, palms down. Lift hips until you form a straight line from shoulders to hips to knees. Hold for two seconds and lower. Repeat 10-15 times. Perform 1-2 sets.
Lie face down with elbows bent, palms down beside your head. Keeping elbows in contact with the ground, lift hips until they are parallel with your shoulders. Avoid arching your back and rounding your shoulders. Hold for 15-60 seconds and return to starting position.
Perform 2-3 sets.
Single Leg Toe Touches:
Stand on a one leg with the knee slightly bent and hands on hips, shoulders back and a neutral spine. Lean forward, keeping a straight spine, and reach for the toe. Go as far as possible without losing your balance and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times per leg. Perform 1-2 sets.
Single Leg Squats:
Stand on one leg with the knee slightly bent and hands on hips, shoulders back and a neutral spine. Squat down, keeping your knee, hip and ankle pointing in the same direction and your chest upright. Perform 10-15 squats per leg, and 1-2 sets.
Start in a lowered position with feet about hip width apart, knees bent, back straight, chest and butt up, and dumbbells at your sides. Maintain a neutral spine as you stand up, first by straightening the legs and then the torso. Repeat 10-15 times. Perform 2-3 sets.
Stand with feet hip width apart, and hips, knees and toes in line. Drop down until your thigh approaches parallel to the floor and then return to a standing position. Keep the chest up throughout the movement, and avoid arching your back or rounding shoulders. Repeat 10-15 times. Perform 2-3 sets.
Stand with feet hip width apart. Step forward and bend the front and back knees and lower toward the ground. Return to your starting position. Keep the chest upright throughout the movement. Repeat 10-15 times per side. Perform 2-3 sets.
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