Off season. Time to relax, reacquaint yourself with your couch & catch up on all of the TV shows that everyone has been talking about for the past 8 months while you were training. Not so fast.
Pre-season, which is what we prefer to call this phase of the training season, is the perfect time to get back to strength training. More likely than not, you have developed some imbalances over the course of the training season that should be addressed before they lead to an injury. And we all know that strength training & prehab exercises are the first thing to be dropped from a training program when the competitive season starts and it’s difficult to find the time to get in all of the run (and/or swim and bike) workouts. Building strength in the pre-season can help improve performance & keep you injury-free next season.
We’ve chosen six of our favorite strength exercises for runners and triathletes — all can easily be adapted to do at home — to help get you FAST for Racing & FIT for Life.
This exercise targets the glute medius, which is a pivotal muscle in keeping a runner’s knee aligned at foot strike. Weak glute medius and maximus is common in runners and is frequently a culprit in running-related injuries.
Even athletes with strong glutes can be victim to the “weak glute” injuries if they are not able to properly fire or activate their glutes while running. The hip bridge exercise is a fool-proof way to get your glutes firing. This hip extension exercise can easily be progressed by using one leg or by extending the duration of the movement (more time under tension).
The cone touch exercise is another fantastic way to get your glutes to fire (noticing a theme??), and it can also aid in strengthening the intrinsic muscles of your feet. Plantar fasciitis is an injury many runners are, unfortunately, familiar with. You can reduce your risk of suffering from it by strengthening those intrinsic muscles of the feet.
Dead Lift & Hamstring Curl
As you’ve probably picked up by now, glute strength is important for runners. Hamstring strength is the next priority. The hamstrings help decelerate the lower leg before the foot strikes the ground. They also help with accelerating forward after foot plant as you go into your next stride. There are two movement patterns that strengthen the hamstring – hip extension and knee flexion. The deadlift is a hip extension exercise that can stimulate and strengthen the whole posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, calves, and even with upper back). When it comes to getting strong, dead lift is the king of the movements.
Hamstring curl, which can be done on a swiss ball or on a hamstring curl machine, is a knee flexion exercise to strengthen the hamstrings. We must be sure to stimulate the posterior chain with both movement patterns (hip extension & knee flexion) to prevent imbalance.
Split Squat – Back Foot Elevated
The split squat is a unilateral exercise that promotes balance between right and left side of the body. It also helps with range of motion in the pelvis, and strengthens the glutes in a position similar to running (with only one foot in contact with the ground).