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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What Should Runners Do At The Gym?

Okay, to follow up with my latest post, I am going to dig a little into what exactly endurance athletes should focus on at the gym.
There is no "best exercise" runners should look for or try to perform day after day.  I recommend you check out some of the articles that Matt Dixon, Alex Hutchinson, Jon-Erik Kawamoto and Dr. Reed Ferber have written for further information on strength training for endurance athletes.
  • Single leg work to improve single leg hip stability and balance.  Single leg squats and lunges are great.
  • For runners, strengthening the hips is key to stabilizing your legs every time they hit the ground after a stride – this will help you eliminate and avoid knee pain associated with running.
  • Don't forget your upper body though.  Many exercises such as rows and presses will help with running posture and help support and stabilize your core!
  • Core exercises should focus on creating stability – no crunches or situps.
  • Machines at the gym are unnecessary – functional movements with a Swiss Ball, free weights or a TRX will be much more effective.
  • PLEASE stop strength training on Bosu balls! They are meant for certain populations that struggle with stability and also in rehab programs. There is no need to be doing presses and curls on Bosu balls.  They will not build any sort of strength.  Think about it. While on a Bosu ball you are using a much lighter weight, which does nothing to promote strength & lean muscle growth. Just quit with them all together.  If you think you should be training on a BOSU, email me and I will give you my personal opinion.

Now to another point:
STAY AWAY FROM EXERCISE MACHINES! I have numerous people ask me how much I leg press or push on the calf raise, and I continually have to tell them they give no direct reflection to your overall fitness and strength.  Today I saw a 300lb Heavy set man plating up the Leg press but was pressing with 15lb Dumbbells.  Further more, I would like to see him do a burpee or full body movement.  So please, stop bragging about how big your machine lifts are!
When people ask me if they can use a leg press in their program I ask them if they can learn how to double leg squat below parallel without lifting your heels off the ground while keeping a neutral lumbar spine.  If you can't, then dynamic movements and flexibility exercises will be a big part of your program!
I wouldn't recommend exercise machines for any athletes - the only sport that I would attribute those machines to is body building.
Machines in general have traditionally been deemed as safe and beneficial to people who don't have much exercise experience.  In my humble opinion, machines can sometimes be dangerous because the range of motion, even though usually linear, can be awkward or too extreme for someone depending on the machine's set-up or his/her limb length.  Studies have shown excess and unwanted knee joint stress from the leg extension machine - just an example of how a machine can be harmful. It is much more beneficial for you to do exercises on stable ground! Perform exercises such as split squats or lunges.  You will develop functional leg strength and also challenge your balance and improve hip strength and flexibility.  This then decreases the chances of you getting knee pain so why not start functional training!! Get off those machines!

Thanks for reading and Stay tuned for my next Update!

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