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5 Strength Training Exercises for Runners

Cross training is included on many running training plans, but many beginning runners don’t know what it means or what they should do on those days.

Cross training day is the time to do something other than your sport to help prevent injury from repetitive stress and work on activities that help you do what you do better. For runners, strength training is a must. Strong and healthy muscles support the joints, give you more power, and help increase endurance. To make your next 5K a little faster or improve muscle endurance for your first half marathon, try these five strength training moves on your cross training days.

lateral lunge

  • Calf raises: I love to do calf raises off a step or stair to increase the range of motion. Raise up on toes then lower down past the edge of the step or stair. Raise back to start and repeat. Do this move slowly, counting 1, 2 down and 3, 4 up.
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Exercises That are a Complete Waste of Your Time

I want to start this out by saying, that in no way is exercise ever pointless or a waste of time. Something is always better than nothing and any amount of exercise should be celebrated.

That being said, there are a lot of “classic” exercises people stick to that really aren’t doing much for your fitness- either because there is a more effective way to work the same muscles, or the exercise you think is hitting certain areas really isn’t hitting anything at all.

People get a little prickly when you tell them their tried and true favorite anything isn’t working for them- but especially when it comes to messing with someone’s health routine. In fact, in the American Council on Exercise personal training certification manual it flat out tells you if someone isn’t going to hurt themselves, either with exercise or nutritionally, like in the case of supplements and vitamins, let ‘em be. It’s better to not turn anyone off of diet and exercise than try to be right if it really isn’t life and death.

So, just for fun, let’s take a look at some exercises that people waste a lot of time on, and how it could be better spent in the pursuit of fitness.


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10 Minute Ab Workout Gets More From Your Core

The following ten minute ab workout is designed to target your all your core muscles while firming and toning your entire midsection. Each exercise targets a little bit different part of the core and by adding them all together, you get an amazing, complete- and quick- ab workout.

Ten Minute Ab Workout (video examples of each exercise appears below):

  • Crunch with arms across chest (1 minute): While lying on your back, bend your knees and place your arms across your chest. Crunch forward slightly raising shoulder blades off the ground while releasing your back to the ground. Keep your chin pointed up towards the ceiling to avoid neck pain.
  • Crunch with arms across chest and feet up (1 minute): While lying on your back, bend your knees and raise feet perpendicular to the ground. Crunch forward slightly raising shoulder blades off the ground keeping your chin up.
  • Bicycle crunches (1 minute): While lying on you back, bring one knee in towards your chest while taking opposite elbow towards your knee. Repeat while switching knees and elbows.


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Use Isometric Core Exercises to Avoid Back and Neck Strain

What is the difference between isometric core exercises and crunches? First off, isometric (iso meaning same, and metric meaning distance) exercises are those in which the joint angle or muscle length do not change during the movement, or, in other words, the body is held in a non-moving or stable position to help isolate the targeted muscle group.  This type of movement is great for improving muscular strength and endurance without placing too much stress on the body.

Crunches are great for core strength and  endurance, as well, and isolates the abdominals extremely well, but places unnecessary stress on the neck and back. For most, this is no big deal, and the body can handle the stress, but for some with injuries or general weakness, those movement can cause pain, and even injury.
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What Workout Is Best For You?

Finding the right workout routine is kind of like dating. You have to keep trying something new until you find the right one. There are all kinds of different workout routines out there today and not every one of them satisfy everyone’s needs. The workout routine that your best friend uses may not work for you; every “body” is different and may rely on different movements or style of routine to achieve the desired results.

As a personal trainer, I recommend trying a handful of different routines and pick the one that you feel works the best. After a few months, try another handful of different routines and go from there. If you’re having trouble finding new routines, any personal trainer or fitness enthusiast should be able to point you in the right direction. Below is a list of different workout routines and examples that may help.


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