Last week I started a new mini series about strength training for runners. A big part of my Chicago Marathon Training is focused on “the little things” like nutrition, strength training, stretching, foam rolling, and sleep. I have always loved to lift weights and strength train. It is really fun for me and I like challenging myself and proving my strength to myself, and that feeling of dominating a strength workout that leaves your muscles aching is comparable to a runner’s high.
Part 2: Glutes and Calves
This week the focus is glute and calf strength training, one of my favourites as of late. The importance of strengthening my glutes has become so clear to me as I tend to get the tighest muscles in my hamstrings and glutes. Squats really are a
girl’s runner’s best friend.
1. Basic narrow squat. 3-4 sets of 12 reps. These can be done on a bosu ball for an added challenge, and adding weight will make it even harder. Of course, make sure the knees never extend over the toes and focus on using the core and legs and nto your back!
2. Seated calf raise. 3-4 sets of 12 raises. Pretty straight forward because it’s not a compound movement but the seated aspect really targets the calf muscles. You could super set this move with seated shoulder press instead of resting in between sets.
3. Bosu squats. Probably the best compound movement to target the glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, and every single muscle on your legs. I usually do a ton of variations of squats on leg day but the one that gets my legs shaking the most are bosu squats, with feet on the flat part of the bosu. I do 4 sets of 16 with bodyweight or 10lb dumbbells.
5. Glute bridge. I didn’t find this one effective when I first started it because I was doing two things wrong… I wasn’t holding it lond enough, and I wasnted lifting my glutes high enough. It takes real effort to get results so if it doesn’t burn, it’s not doing anything. A variation of this could include one-legged glute bridges, pulsing glute bridges, or adding weight. I try and do 3-4 sets of 60 seconds.
6. Plie squat with releve. I learned this one in barre class, where I thought my calves were going to break in half. Also considered a “wide squat,” a plie squat is wider than a regular squat and once you have dropped to a squatting position, left your heels. Yeah, it’s suppose to burn that much after only 3.2 seconds. Pulse those lifted heels for 8-12 reps.
7. Weighted step-ups with knee drive. It might feel like more of a cardio move when you are sweating and can’t breath after 12-16 reps, but this one gets the glutes firing on all cylinders. Standing with feet planted and step in front, holding dumbbells of about 10-15lbs, step up with left foot and then raise the right knee as high as you can up to your chest. Step back down and continue for 12 reps on the left side, the repeat stepping up with the right side.
8. Glute cable extensions. This one has to be a favourite. I love firing up my glutes with this killer exercise and combining it with (7) is a great superset! I try for a 45 degree angle on the extension for 3 sets of 12 and then a straight back for 3 sets of 12. All angles of those ASSets.
Disclaimer: While I am certified in exercise theory and group fitness, I am not a personal trainer, I just spend many hours in the gym and have learned a lot from other trainers about form and proper movement. Please consult a physician before beginning a new workout regime and discuss technique and form with a local trainer BEFORE you start lifting… oh, and have FUN with it!