Time to change things up! Let’s talk upper body exercises.
It not secret that smart phones have lead to an increase in poor posture – heads protruding forward, slumped spines, and rounded shoulders. Y-T-A’s are a simple, yet effective exercise to regain better upper body posture, muscle strength, and mobility.
Clamshells are great to build glute and TFL strength, but the side position isn’t my favorite. Ta-da! Seated 3-way mini resistance band clamshells.
What to do:
Place the mini band right below (more advanced) or right above (a bit easier) your knees. Whichever location you choose or whatever resistance mini band you use, just make sure you feel your glutes and outside your hips actually working.
Sit on the edge of the bench and your feet about hip-width apart. Then press your knees open against the band, using your glutes to open the band.
Begin with the forward hip hinge, then sitting tall, and finish leaning back.
Alter the location and ‘weight’ of the resistance band to progress or regress the movement for your current level of fitness.
Think you need a machine to build strong hamstrings? Think again!
Hamstrings are part of the posterior chain, a powerful group of muscles that include the back, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. A strong posterior chain gives runners a stong push-off, promoting forward motion.
Kettlebell Deadlifts are an effective exercise for strengthening the posterior chain, some of the biggest and strongest muscles in the body: back, glutes, hamstrings, and calves.
A strong posterior chain is critical for runners, as these muscles are what push you forward with each stride. They also work to stabilize the knee joint, extend the hip joint, and strengthen and straighten the spine (especially important for chronic sitters).
When prepping for a longer endurance race, you can find me performing many variations of the reverse sliding lunge throughout training. These lunges are THAT valuable.
The benefits of reverse sliding lunges:
Support hamstring strength, responsible for knee flexion and hip extension.
Increase balance through working leg (forward leg) and improve proprioception (awareness of position and movement of the body).
Load sharing between the quadriceps, hamstrings, and and gluteal muscles, the muscles that stabilize the knee and hip.
Core and back muscles are engaged and strengthen throughout entire movement.
Stretch the pectoral muscle group, when tight leads to the arms crossing over the body and inefficient running form.
Can be done anywhere with a glide disc or furniture slider.
How to perform a reverse sliding lunge:
1. Working leg on floor, with weight on the foot; other leg’s foot placed on slider. Engage core musculature.
2. Move weight backward, then lower into lunge position. In this video, I hold a bar (PVC pipe) and raise my arms up until the biceps are near my ear.
3. Push through the heel of the working leg, contracting the hamstrings, quadriceps, and gluteal muscles, all while keeping the core engaged.
Keep in mind that this is progressive exercise. Start with just the reverse sliding movement and master it. Then start adding new elements to continue building strength and mobility. Listen and acknowledge what you body is able to do TODAY.
I love my three children, but the last one killed my core and pelvic floor muscles. My blame goes to age (39 at the time) and training right up to her delivery. Delivery was fast – less than 5 hours and standing up – so there WAS an upside.
Pevlic floor physical therapy helped me regain pevlic floor strength. Correcting for diastasis recti is an ongoing journey. Women, if your stomach domes with core activity, you’re likely in the same boat. Hop aboard! There’s plenty of good company on this particular journey. A strong core is the foundation for healthy movement. I personally define the core as “nipples to knees”, encompassing the hip complex and lower back.
One exercise that continues to challenge my core – primarily rectus abdominis and obliques – are cable core rotations.
Here’s what you do:
1. Adjust the pulley handle to chest height. Step out and away from the weight. Feet are shoulder-width. Stand with a tight core and flat back. Push the handle out in front of you. Keep elbows slightly bent. 2. Twist from the core, keeping hips stable. Move arms across the body, achieving a full extension. Breathe OUT. 3. Return to starting position. Breathe IN.
Regressions: no pulley (mastering engaging and maintaining correct muscle contraction) < resistance bands < dumbbells Progressions: increase weight < introduce instability in footing (foam pad < foam beam < BOSU ball)
My first bout with Achilles tendinitis was March 2012, four weeks before my first Boston Marathon. Stricken with panic, my PT in Anchorage got me race-day ready using eccentric heel drops.
Why does Achilles tendinitis happen?
The Achilles tendon is the largest and thickest tendon in the body, connecting the calf muscle to the back of the heel.
And as you run, the power produced from pushing toes off the ground is generated by the Achilles, and research has shown the force can be 3x your body weight. The farther and faster you run, more strain you place on the tendon.
Eccentric heel drops should be part of every runner’s preventative maintenance program. Three (3) sets of 15 repetitions (both sides), twice a day will quickly get an irritated Achilles tendon back on track.
Here’s what you do:
1. Stand on a step or stair with your ankles in a calf raise position. Shift all of your weight onto one leg.
2. Slowly use your calf muscles to lower your body down (the eccentric motion), dropping your heel beneath your forefoot. Use the opposite leg to return to the starting position.
*Moderate discomfort during movement is normal for an irritated Achilles tendon. Pain is not.
You can progress this exercises by adding a weighted vest to progressively strengthen the tendon.
A strong hip complex is the foundation of a strong running body. Unless you live under a rock, most runners know to incorporate strength training to their fitness routine. One reason runners don’t incorporate any type of strenght work is not knowing where to start.