Cardiovascular fitness is the body’s efficiency to transport oxygen to the working muscles for a prolonged period of time. This is done through the lungs, heart, and vascular system (cardiopulmonary system). Running for long distances stresses the cardiopulmonary system and the body’s response is to adapt to this stress by increasing its efficiency to transport oxygen to the working muscles.
We cannot forget, however, the importance of resistance training to improve one’s running economy when coupled with cardiovascular training, Resistance training improves running mechanics when the movements performed in the gym carryover into the biomechanics of running.
The following circuit takes running mechanics into account to strengthen the muscles utilized while running and enhance running economy. These movements will improve ground reaction forces along with the appropriate transfer of these forces through the kinetic chain when an individual runs. Perform each exercise for the recommended number of repetitions and for 3-5 rounds.
Single RDL w/ Hip Flexion
Reps: 10-12 ea. side
How to Perform: Stand with feet approximately at shoulder-width apart, spine aligned by retracting scapula or rolling your shoulders back and down and engaging glutes or positioning pelvis in a neutral position. Maintain a slight bend at the knee of your stance leg and shift all your weight to this leg. While keeping your spine aligned, hinge at the hip and bring the chest towards the ground. As chest moves towards the ground, the opposite leg (leg with no weight-bearing) goes up towards the sky as high as your flexibility allows. As you straighten back up to starting position, bring the knee of the non-weight-bearing leg towards chest flexing the hip and knee in a 90-degree between the thigh and lower leg. That is one repetition. After hinging at the hip, the trunk should be parallel to ground as close as you can get to that position while keeping your spine aligned and chest up. Complete one side and then do the other. To increase the intensity, you can hold a pair of dumbbells to the side as you execute the movement.
Staggered Stance Woodchop
Reps: 10-15 ea. side
How to Perform: Stand with a staggered stance or one foot approximately 6 inches in front of the other and soft knees (slightly bent knees) in both legs. Bring hands together in front of you with your arms down and maintain a slight bend of the elbows. This is the starting position. Drop into a quarter-squat while simultaneously bringing your hands to the outside of the knee from the leg staggered posteriorly or the back leg of the stance. As you stand, rotate your torso and keep your arms extended while brining hands overhead to the opposite shoulder or over the shoulder of the leg positioned anteriorly or in the front of the stance. That is one repetition. Continue this cyclic action bringing hands to the outside knee and then rotating overhead to the opposite shoulder. Complete one side and then do the other. To increase resistance, hold a weight in your hands, and execute the movement.
Static Single Leg Step Up w/ Hip Extension
Reps: 10-12 ea. side
How to Perform: Position one foot in a sturdy and elevated surface that is no higher than knee height. The other foot is flat on the ground. Elevated foot creates a 90-degree bend with thighs and lower legs. The spine is aligned in a natural postural position. This is the starting position. Create a reaction force on an elevated, sturdy surface by transferring all your weight to that foot and straightening the knee. As you rise on the surface and straighten your leg, the opposite leg extends and kicks back activating that glute. Come back to starting position by bending the knee of the foot on the elevated surface and bringing the opposite foot back to the ground. Maintain body control while rising on the surface and coming back to starting position. The upper torso should remain as upright as possible as you execute the exercise. To make move more difficult and increase the intensity, hold dumbbells at your side during exercise. Do one side and then the other.
Dynamic Runners Pose
Reps: 10-12 ea. side
How to Perform: Position hands on a sturdy wall or tree for support with a slight lean. Shift all your weight to one foot and extend the other hip or kick the other leg back. All your weight should be on one leg and the other leg extended. This is your starting position. Make sure you maintain a natural postural alignment throughout the movement. As you come up on the balls of your feet on the weight-bearing foot, bend the hip and knee of the opposite leg into a 90-degree between the thigh and lower leg bringing the knee up towards the chest. Return to starting position by bringing your heel back to ground in the weight-bearing leg and extending hip and knee in the non-weight-bearing leg. Avoid bending torso as you execute the movement. To increase the intensity, use a band or cable machine. Anchor a super band behind the extended leg and slide that foot in band. As you flex hip and knee, the tension of band increases making the movement harder and requiring more core stabilization. For cables, change the handle to an ankle wrap and position cables as low as possible. Strap wrap around the ankle of your non-weight-bearing leg and face away from the machine. Find something sturdy for support (like an upright bench or shoulders of a friend) and complete movement. Do one side and then the other.
Reps: 10-12 ea. side
How to Perform: Find a sturdy, elevated surface no higher than knee height and face away from it. Stand approximately 2-3 feet away from the elevated surface and place one foot on it. You should be facing away from the elevated surface with one foot on it (hips extended) and the other foot on the ground. Make sure your spine is aligned and you stay upright throughout the movement. Bring the knee of the foot on the elevated surface towards the floor by bending or flexing the knee and hip of the foot that is on the ground. Bring thigh parallel to ground or as low as your flexibility lets you and then extend or straighten the leg and come back to starting position. Hold dumbbells at your side during exercise to increase intensity. Complete one side and do the other.
Leg Elevated Single Side Rotation
Reps: 12-15 ea. side
How to Perform: Position one foot in a sturdy and elevated surface that is no higher than knee height. The other foot is flat on the ground. Elevated foot creates a 90-degree bend with thighs and lower legs. The spine is aligned in a natural postural position. Raise hands in front of you at shoulder height. Rotate torso towards elevated leg while leading the motion or driving with hands. Return torso and hands to starting position and that is one repetition. To increase difficulty level or intensity utilize bands or cable machines. Anchor band at shoulder height and to your side. Get in starting position and rotate away from the band. As you rotate, the band lengthens and creates more tension. Do the same for the cable machine. Position yourself perpendicular to the machine. Get in starting position and rotate away from the machine.