Top 3 Lifts for Runners

Race season is upon us! Let’s cover our three favorite lifts for runners in season, and a few details on athletic programming.

  1. Lateral Slider Lunge. We start beginners with a static lateral squat, then progress to a lunge with a slider once you’re competent in the static movement and can load it with at least 30lbs with good technique.

Why we love it: Lateral movements are essential in running!  While we may run forwards,running requires us to spend quite a bit of time in a single leg stance. Any time spent in a single leg stance requires help from the adductors, quads, and our glute medius- all of which are trained during a well-executed lateral lunge!

  1. Kickstand or Single Leg Romanian Deadlift. We shorten this as KS RDL or SL RDL if you’re reading it on the gym whiteboard 🙂 The single leg RDL is a progression from the kickstand version, but does involve a greater degree of contribution from muscles such as the adductors and abductors when compared to keeping both feet on the floor.  The single leg version also requires more balance from the foot and ankle. We like to see people really really strong in that kickstand position with 30lbs in each hand for multiple reps and sets before progressing to single leg. It’s important to note that both the kickstand and single leg RDL provide tremendous benefit to runners, and progressing from kickstand to single leg is not always necessary to see progress!

Why we love it: These movements get even deeper into glute medius and maximus tissue, which helps propel you forward through internal rotation and hip extension. They both train balance from the working foot and ankle, and require control over ankle position which goes unnoticed in most strength programs.

  1. Glute Ham Raise. This one can be progressed into a kickstand position, but we love it because it puts us on our toes, literally. At the bottom, we’re looking for a good stretch in the hamstring and glutes, so think of an RDL and lift your tailbone. Push through the ball of the foot, and extend your hips into the pad to raise your torso. Stop when your hips stop, or else this turns into a back extension.

Why we love it: 

image

In the picture above, you’ll notice that this athlete’s right foot has just left the ground as he completes his gait cycle.  During this action of propelling ourselves forward, we create a few distinct actions: hip extension, knee extension and ankle plantar flexion.  The beauty of the glute ham raise is that it trains all 3 of these movements and allows for a variety of different loading options, including free weights and band resistance. 

To implement, here is a short framework for programming:

  1. Movement selection should get more specific the closer to the season/event. You don’t have to do solely running specific movements throughout the span of a year; it’s preferred to train your whole body outside of season so you’re prepared for anything.
  2. Volume should decrease as you near your race. It’s more difficult to recover from high volume lifting and running, so for serious racers we suggest letting that running volume be where you’re focused on endurance.
  3. Keep doing plyometrics year round! Utilize low pogos and single leg hops, any movements that focus on your foot and ankle.
  4. Utilize higher volume lifting during the offseason season, but don’t let it be the only type of training you do. Heavier weights and lower reps DO benefit runners. You increase power, speed, and strength while building tissue better prepared for injury. Only focusing on your capacity (ie, endurance), doesn’t inherently make you a faster runner.

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