Strength Training for Runners

Let’s clear this up right now, strength training and running go together, it’s not one over the other. Many runners avoid weight training because of the fear of being bulky or decreasing their run time. What they need to know is that strength training can improve your run time and increase your work capacity. As much as you work your aerobic capacity your anaerobic capacity should be complementing your aerobic training.

 

Why- Strength training can increase your muscles work capacity, which can improve your running technique. You’re less likely to fatigue when your muscles are stronger, they are able to maintain proper mechanics for longer periods of time. Maintaining stronger muscles will decrease the likability of fatigue during a race, also you will be able to increase the type 2 fibers that are the fast twitch muscles. Being able to focus on the big five areas of running will make strength training less daunting. The big five are knee, hamstring, glute, trunk, and back dominate exercises. These are the major muscle groups utilized when running.

 

Glutes- Glutes are your key muscle group when you look at the mechanics when running. The glute medius will be the main focus, this muscle is the rotator cuff of the lower body. It’s the first muscle to contract quickly when you move, it stabilizes your body when you are on one leg. Running is a unilateral activity, meaning, there is a single leg that is in motion, this is why it’s crucial to strengthen and stabilize the glute medius in unilateral exercises.

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Hamstrings- These bad boys are what strengthen your lower back. They are also the reason your knees flex, which is a repetitive motion used when running. When you look at the mechanics of running, your heel should be reaching your glutes during the back swing motion, this allows for greater power output when running. The stronger you are through the hamstings, the greater force output you will be able to produce when you are running. Having strong hamstrings will complement your glutes, having these two areas strengthened will prevent low back pain and allow for your running to become less strenuous on the posterior chain.

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Quadriceps- Runners usually have over developed quadriceps, but this doesn’t mean it’s not worth training. The quadriceps are responsible for two major movements in running, the first movement is knee extension and the second action is assisting in hip flexion. These actions are important because they cause the leg to swing forward when running. The insertion of the quadriceps is located on the tibial tuberosity, the boney projection below the knee, this is essential because having stronger quadriceps will assist in maintaining the knee in it’s position. One of the muscles in the quadriceps is known as the vastus medialis, which helps with stabilizing the patella and the knee joint during your gait when running.

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Trunk-The trunk is a fancy word of saying the abdominals, the trunks main role is to maintain your posture, it keeps you upright. When we look at running we want to maintain a tall position, making sure that we are as tall as we can get, will allow for us to get a greater range of motion through the hips. We will not be able to maintain that tall position when we run if our trunk is weak, being able to focus on strengthening the abdominals will allow for greater stability. When you strengthen the abdominals you are able to reduce the wobbly feeling you have when you run, if you are wobbling form side to side when you run you will have an energy leak, which will slow you down.

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Back-  The back is the last key player when running strong, the back piggybacks off the same role of the trunk which is keeping your body upright. Having a stronger back will help with retracting the shoulder blades back, which prevents the shoulders from rolling forward. Good posture is what carries over to proper mechanics when running, if you find it difficult to maintain your posture then you will need to improve your back strength. The way you are carrying your arms are affected by how strong your back is, a strong back is what can prevent energy leaks through the upper body. A strong spine that is complemented by both mid and lower backs help to stabilize the spine and the pelvis.

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Apply- Now that you have a better understanding of why strength training is important to running let’s talk about implementing it in your program. I have included a three-day program that revolves around the areas that are important when improving your running with strength training. Allowing yourself to strengthen these important areas will allow for you to begin making big strides in your sport of running. Focus on the importance of strength training to not only to reduce your race time, but to also reduce your potential risk of injury.

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Rebell Spotlight

MADISON LUTGEN 

 

Madison was the original Rebell!! She was the one who actually helped me come up with the name. I met Madison two years ago online and had offered to help her with her training, we met on a very snowy day in a beat down gym. This was a half way point from where we both lived, we knew nothing about each other and just trusted that we would meet and train. This would only be the beginning of an amazing friendship.

 

We spent a good two and a half to three hours at the gym going over warm ups, mobility, regressions and progressions, understanding the importance of proper training, and so much more. I can specifically recall how nervous she was with a barbell squat, after a few modifications she was confidently squatting. Since then we meet about every four months or so to go over techniques, new exercises, and to hang out. Madison has been such a good friend to me since, and it’s been an amazing experience watching her progress from a shy quite girl to the proud confident woman she is today. Here is her story about her transformation!

 

Your Background- I wasn’t that much of an active child growing up, I didn’t enjoy sports (as an adult, that hasn’t changed one bit) or being active. I didn’t spark an interest into training until I took an aerobics level 2 class in high school, I occasionally worked out but nothing serious. Then years later, I got in touch with Will and my passion for an active lifestyle and fitness really took off my junior year of college. I found powerlifting and made a comfortable transition from the machine side of the gym to the free weight side all while gaining knowledge in natural movements that Will coached me in. Now, almost two years later, I’m lifting a minimum of 4 days a week and taking a variety of group fitness classes ranging from spin to CrossFit, a venture I wouldn’t be able to do without gaining a background in fitness.

 

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“I spent a good amount of time hiking on both trips to Colorado, no slips, trips, or breaks needed. My time in the gym immensely helped my life outside of the gym!”

Thoughts about strength training before & after- I was terrified of the free weight side before training with Will. I knew sooooo little about building muscle and nutrition and how what you do inside the gym should be able to benefit you outside the gym. I worked out but never mindfully. Once I started with Will, I learned how to track my progress by taking notes and writing down my lifts, as well as seeing improvements outside the gym (carrying more weight at work and increased stamina).

 

Now, I’m incredibly comfortable with free weights and challenging myself to push heavier weights and testing my boundaries. Will encourages me to try new movements and that nobody is a master at anything their first time. He’s wonderful to work with as he’s patient and understanding (My life is usually flooding with school and work, and when I told him I shifted from a 5-day spilt to a 4-day split, he was supportive and understood where I was coming from.) The biggest take away from training with Will is my new-found confidence to branch out and try new things. Now I’m excited to try new workouts and go outside of my comfort zone, if you would have told me I’d be doing CrossFit three years ago I would’ve said you were crazy.

Challenging barriers you overcame- The biggest barrier I had to overcome while training was to let go of the awkwardness of trying something new. I used to be scared doing something new and I’d be anxious if somebody saw me do something that I wasn’t a pro at. Now I love coming out and saying I’ve never done something before and I’m eager to learn from people and ask for tips. It’s been a life changing experience, learning to leave my ego at the door and be open to learning new things.

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“One of the first times I started to notice the muscle I’ve gained in my tricep. Incredibly proud as my arms are the most difficult part to gain muscle of me”.

Greatest achievement- My greatest achievement has been my change to an active lifestyle. For a majority of my life, I hated working out and didn’t see the point to eating well. I was just over 20 when I finally had an epiphany that we only get one body and we should treat it like that. Living life by taking drugs and feeing crappy is not a life I want to live. Training with Will exposed me to a life of balance and a love for training not only because it’s fun but because it’s what my body needs. Living an active life and putting thought into my nutrition is beneficial now and in the future. I’m excited to see what my future holds from the work I put in today. That by far, has been my greatest achievement since training with Will (pulling a 225 deadlift was pretty sick too).

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“Core transformation between my first cycle of bulking and cutting!”

Changes your family/friends noticed- The biggest change my friends and family have noticed is my attitude. Prior to getting into lifting and nutrition, I wasn’t a positive person and had a negative outlook on many aspects of life. I get told often that my positivity and excitement is contagious and I seem more excited about life than I was ever before.

 

What do you tell people about our training- I’m constantly referring and talking about Will to friends, coworkers and people at my gym. My favorite thing about him is that he doesn’t bullshit you. If you’re training without reason, he’ll put you in your place because he cares about you and your progress. Will was quick to check me when he found out I was overtraining and I couldn’t thank him enough for that- rest days are crucial!

 

What do you enjoy about working together- The best part about working with Will is that it isn’t only a coach/client relationship, we’ve become great friends over the course of nearly 2 years together. He isn’t the type of coach that is so focused on fitness that he negates every other aspect of your life, Will’s congratulated me on promotions, classes and tells me how derpy my dog is (who doesn’t love that?). He builds a personal connection with you that makes training and asking for help/advice so natural and easy, it’s one of my favorite things about him!

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Me and Shelby- “I LOVE HER!”

3 benefits you’ve noticed

  1. I’ve gained an immense amount of knowledge about training and fitness. Knowing proper form and how movements should be done as well as why we do them has been incredibly beneficial for me. The strength I’ve gained inside the gym has benefited my ability to do my job, I can carry more boxes and more tubs of ice than I could prior to training. Being at work and knowing how to lift with my legs instead of my back is something I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t worked with Will.

 

  1. People frequently ask me about my journey and how I stay dedicated and consistent with working out, and I always tell them it’s Will and the fact that I truly love training. Will makes training fun for me, switching up movements and incorporating new movements fuels my love for training.

 

  1. Additionally, when Will asks about my goals, we plan out steps to reach them, and when I accomplish my goals it’s fulfilling and rewarding. Through training with Will, I’ve learned so much about goal-setting and taking the necessary steps to achieve my goals. Also, figuring out my goals and what I want has been a refreshing and humbling take away from Will. Assessing my life and identifying what I want, inside the gym and outside, whether it’s hitting a 225 back squat or buying a new car, Will has granted me with the skills necessary to properly goal set and plan.

 

What makes the difference- What separates Will from other trainers and fitness plans is that you gain experience and strength within the gym that benefits you outside of the gym. So many fitness plans and trainers promoting all these weird fads and movements that you wouldn’t ever be doing if a machine wasn’t invented to do so, and it’s counteractive to go hard in the gym to these programs and have no benefit to your daily life. Training is a passion and hobby of mine, but it isn’t my whole life and Will accepts that and understands. The work Will has me do is beneficial outside of the gym, it makes kicking my ass in the gym easy cause I know I’m not just training for the gym, I’m training for my life- to make moving boxes at work easier, randomly doing crossfit with coworkers fun and chasing my dog around easy and not a daunting, difficult task. 

 

Additional words- There’s no denying that Will has completely changed my life. I have no idea where I’d be if I didn’t meet up with him during a winter storm at a small snap fitness. He’s a truly fantastic trainer and friend, I trust him and I know he would never misguide me or not have my best intention at heart.

 

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Recent- “It’s small, but when I saw this picture I loved how I looked- happy, healthy, and strong. Being able to look at a photo of yourself without picking it apart is a wonderful feeling! Strength gains and mental gains.”

Madison is the original Rebell, the amount of hard work that she has put forth towards her goals has been admirable. Her sense of humor fills the room with laughter and her courageous efforts to break the stereotypes of women is contagious. Madison is one of a kind, she excels in crushing PR’s and boy’s insecurities. She is a great friend and hard working woman; I’m honored to know such an amazing person!

 

 

 

Kettlebells: The Swiss Army Knife of Fitness.

Kettlebells are one of the most universal tools that build strength, endurance, mobility, power, rehab injuries, and anything else you can possibly think of. Not only are these tools universal for training, but they are easy to use anywhere. These cast iron bells have made a huge impact in the fitness industry. Being able to utilize a single tool with so many different purposes has given it the name Swiss Army Knife of Fitness.

 

Strength- Kettlebells have been known for the “What the Hell Effect” which is phrase used after using kettlebells for some time and seeing the carry over to other exercises. The strength that can be built with using kettlebells can carry over to barbell lifts, bodyweight exercises, strongman lifts, and sandbag exercises. For example, I have taken away all barbell exercises for 10 months now and have just focused on kettlebells and natural movement, to retest some strength I went and did 315lbs for 10 repetitions on a back squat (https://www.instagram.com/p/BLhWRf7FHbl/?taken-by=restoredstrength ). Kettlebells may not seem sexy like a barbell with 10 plates, but they build the same amount of strength.

 

Endurance- Swings, that’s all you need to know about endurance training with kettlebells, well there are other awesome exercises, but mainly the swing is the trick here. Being able to produce high volume swings with minimum rest is the bread and butter of endurance training with kettlebells. A popular method used when training endurance work with kettlebells is the HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) method, this allows for high intensity work with a short amount of recovery. Kettlebells have proven themselves worthy overtime as to how swinging the cast iron can improve your endurance by cutting seconds to minutes off run times.

 

Mobility- “If you are tight you are weak” is a statement made by Pavel Tsatsouline, this statement holds true to the idea that restricted ranges of motion prevent optimal use of strength. Kettlebells have this unique way of helping us fight this ugly disease of immobility and tight muscles. One of my favorite exercises is the halo that assists with thoracic mobility, but then also using the side bent sit position with a kettlebell to open up the hips. Mobility work and kettlebells go hand in hand by providing the user with a tool of strength with new found ranges of motion.

 

Power- The ability to exert maximum muscular contraction instantly in an explosive burst of movements is defined as power. Using exercises like the swing or the snatch, kettlebells have the ability to build a large amount of power. The amount of tension, speed, and force needed to complete a swing or a snatch is very high, thus carrying over into the production of power. Kettlebell exercises have been known to carry over in aiding athletes to improve their performance in their sports by increasing their power output.

 

Rehab- Seriously what can’t these things do? If you were to look up “Kettlebells and back pain” you be flooded with information on google, this is because kettlebells when used correctly can fix lower back pain. The kettlebell arm bar has been shown to improve strength and stability in the rotator cuff which is a commonly injured muscle, using this exercise can be used as injury prevention. Lastly kettlebells have been proven to fix glute amnesia which is the inability to activate your glutes, which can lead to lower back pain.

 

Putting Your Swiss Army Knife to Use- Now that you have a better understanding as to how many different ways you can use your kettlebell, it’s time to put it to use. Each category can be used to your advantage when training. It’s simply up to you as to where you want to put each category and how it will fit into your goals. I have provided a sample program of implementing each category into a sample day-one program. This is just an example as to how you can use kettlebells. The first colored box is to have the exercises paired together, and repeating with each paired set. Hopefully this can help you to start using more kettlebell exercises in your training!

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Day One