More bodyweight exercises!
(This is the third and last article in a series of body weight exercises for runners. For the first article read WORKING THE PLANK, and the second article is STEP UP YOUR GAME. )
The two biggest excuses for not exercising are a lack of equipment, and not being able to get to the gym. In body-weight exercises YOU are the ‘equipment’ so all you need is yourself. No matter where you go, there you are, NO EXCUSES! To be a strong runner you must incorporate some sort of exercise regiment in addition to running. Running is a wonderful exercise and a great way to meet some positive and awesome people at local races. If you want to have a long and productive running ‘career’ you must strengthen your core and legs with additional regular exercise . So now that you have mastered working the plank and can step up your game, it’s time to go to the next level.
Standing on one leg, and hopping!
Standing on one leg is a great simple exercise to work your leg muscles while improving balance at the same time. You should be able to balance on one leg for at least 20 seconds un-aided. This exercise primarily targets the quads but to a lesser degree also targets the glutes, groin, hamstrings, hip flexors and outer thighs. Always remember to switch legs and give the same amount of time and attention to each leg. When you work up to the point where you can stand still on each leg motionless for two minutes, you can make the exercise harder by hopping instead of standing. You should only need to do this for a minute or two. No all-day hoppers please!
Ok, this is the ONE body-weight exercise where you need a ‘prop’ besides yourself, so shoot me. A speed rope is a minor expense and only costs $10 or less, and you can easily keep it in your gym bag with your sneakers and other running gear.
Alternately, you should be able to find a suitable length of rope or flexible wire-cable. EVEN IF you had zero access to a speed rope or a substitute, you could STILL do this exercise just by pretending you have a rope and mimicking the motion. You might look pretty silly jumping with an invisible rope, but at least you wouldn’t have an excuse!
Skipping rope (or jumping rope, both terms are used) enhances balance while improving coordination and agility. It’s an efficient form of cardio which strengthens your whole body. The rapid bouncing motion up and off the ground and back boosts bone density. Again, this is a short duration exercise. Aim for 5 to 15 minutes as a warm-up exercise, besides skipping rope all day would get boring pretty quickly.
To skip rope, you are going to jump and inch or two off the ground while swinging a arch of rope over your head and under your feet in a constant rapid and rhythmic motion. The swinging of the rope in generated by wrist motion only, and your hands should be kept along the midline of your body. Keep your knees slightly bent and jump on the midsoles of your feet. Maintain a neutral spine with your head up, eyes looking forward. Timing is EVERYTHING. You need to be in the air a split second before the rope is about to pass under your feet. Simple huh?
Again, this is a basic exercise, most of us were introduce to this in elementary school gym class. You stand straight, with a slight bend in your knees and your hands resting on your thighs. You jump and spread both your legs out wider than your shoulders to each side while swinging your arms from your thighs out to the side and above your head. Then jump again reversing the motion to return to the starting point. Your body should form a sort of x-shape when your arms and legs are fully extended. You want soft bouncing, and do not extend your legs out too far to the side or you will but undue strain on your knees. You don’t need to do this very long, 5-10 minutes max.
This is a simple jump test, straight up in the air from a standing position. Only do one or two of these a day as a test of how high you can jump straight up. Stand against a wall and reach up with your arm fully extended. Make a mark on that wall. Now make your jump and mark where your fingers touch at the height of your jump. That is the total distance up you jumped. If you’re doing this on a wall in your home, you might want to make your marks with something that isn’t going to leave a permanent mark. You could slap a post-it note up there, or a piece of low-tack tape.
This is a combination of squatting and jumping. From a squat position, you jump straight up and land back in place in a squat, and repeat. You are only jumping up, not forward. Picture a frog jumping in place on a lily pad.
BURPEE, THE KING OF ALL BODYWEIGHT EXERCISES!
The Burpee combines four different exercise into one very, very, VERY tough exercise. The Burpee is named for a physiologist named Royal Huddleston Burpee who invented the exercise in 1940.
Burpees consists of a jump, a squat, a plank, and a push-up . If done correctly, this total-body strengthening exercise is super-effective. (Full disclosure, I cannot do one of these now, but I hope to by summer.) AGAIN this is an extremely tough exercise that requires strength and coordination, it’s essential to take your time and perform them properly to avoid injury. Only attempt this exercise after you’ve mastered jumping, squatting, planking, and push-ups. An improper form in any exercise will put undue stress on your muscles and joints, so please make sure your form is solid, and proceed with caution.
Starting from a standing position, you do a vertical jump, land in a squat, kick your legs back into a plank position, do a push-up. Then you reverse the procedure, pulling your legs from the plank position into the squat, and then jump up and land in the starting position. Repeat this exercise 10 to 25 times then go buy yourself your favorite beverage of choice because YOU EARNED IT!
You can find me at these upcoming races:
Shiver by The River 10K Winter Race Series #1 of 4 December 12 @ 10:00am Muhlenberg PA
HumBug Bustle 5K December 18 @ 10:00 am Reading PA
Kris Kringle 5 Mile Run December 26 @ 10:00 am Leesport PA
Be sure to check back on December 12th for another article.
As always, I wish you success and happiness!