ICYMI: Parts 1-4 of the Strength Training for Runners series.
This edition of strength training for runners is what I like to call, an “accessory day.” Shoulders and hips are the body’s two major rotational muscles and while they aren’t the major “running muscles” they are integral to proper running form and not getting injured. I have to admit, shoulder day at the gym is kind of the best and over the past few months I have seen incredible strength gain in my shoulders from working them regularly. Hip work keeps my running injuries to a minimum and keeps me on top of my hip stretching more than anything!
Part 5: Shoulders and Hips
I have covered a lot of the major muscles like quads and glutes, but today’s series of exercises is equally as tough, if not more! I find working the muscles I forget to work a lot (hips) is even more challenging than a leg day sometimes because those muscles aren’t used to heavy lifting. Let’s dive in!
1. Front and/or lateral raise. I like to do a combination of those two and have one arm front and other arm lateral, alternating side to side. It keeps my core in check and forces me to not use momentum in my raise. I try for 4 sets of 12 raises here.
2. Clam shells. I don’t practice these ones as often as I should because they really help open up the hips for running. Lying on your side, knees and legs together and slightly bend, lift the top knee up as high as you can and return to the ground. That’s one rep. I try to do 3 sets of 20, going for more volume than normal.
3. Shoulder press. I used to do this one standing but I felt my back was very unsupported and I find I can lift heavier while seated, so now I stick to the seated version. I did this in my workout yesterday and it almost killed me! I did 4 sets of 10 and it rocked my socks. If you can do 15 reps without losing form, add weight.
4. Standing abductors. Using the cables, I attach the ankle wrap to my foot and do hip abductions to strengthen my hips. I usually only pile on 10-15lbs but that allows me to get a bigger range of motion than a heavier weight. 3-4 sets of 12.
5. Squat and press. Only of the ultimate HR buster strength moves. Using a ton of lower body AND shoulders to press, I love squat and presses. I use dumbbells because I prefer the freedom of movement when I press with them but a barbell works as well. Go for 4 sets of 12 and if you superset with another move the heart rate will really take off.
6. Single-leg reach. These ones were another exercise taught to me by my physiotherapist. They were SO hard for me at first because I had worked on my hip strength exactly ZERO times (hence why I was working with a physiotherapist) and I have terrible balance but with practice they become easier and adding weight in the form of a dumbbell can increase the intensity. I do 3 sets of 16 reps on each leg.
7. Lat pulldown. Great for the lats, awesome for biceps, and uses a ton of shoulder movement to kill this exercise. I haven’t been able to increase the weight on this machine in a really long time, I think mostly due to grip strength, but I lift about 70-80lbs and have kept it there for a while doing 4 sets of 12. Maintain a strong core throughout the whole movement to get the full motion.
8. Lying hip abductions. MY FAVOURITE HIP MOVE. Yes, it rocks. You don’t have to lift your leg sky high for this one, in fact lifting about 1.5-2 feet off the ground is perfect. When this exercise was first introduced to me in physio, I was told to do 30 reps on each side. I thought it would be easy but after 27 reps, the last 3 almost killed me. It’s a good one! Adding an ankle weight or increasing reps is the next step once you can conquer 30 on each side.
9. Upright cable row. While this move is mostly working the traps, it also uses the shoulders as an accessory muscle. I started with 3 sets of 8 and have slowly worked up to 4 sets of 12, once I get to that, I add more weight and do less reps.
10. Front AND behind-the-neck barbell press. Aka. the shoulder burner. I like to save this one for the end of my shoulder workout because once I finish it I. AM. DONE. The constant motion in this move makes it a burner and the continuous pressing motion kills the shoulders. I use a relatively “light” weight compared to my straight shoulder press weight simply because it means I can use proper form the whole time, it reduces the risk of injury, and I can treat it almost like a cardio move. I start by pressing from the front, overhead and landing behind me neck, with a teeny tiny pause, then I press back up over my head and back to the front of my body. That is 1 rep. 6 reps is tough, I go for 8, when I’m feeling incredible, I can do 10.
The photo above is seated, however I do mine standing for more control and motion.
Key to this workout: STRETCHING. Those hip flexors take a beating in marathon training or casual running so getting a good stretch is critical. A trainer friend from my gym told me to not just focus on strengthening but LENGTHENING as well in order to reduce injury risk. So true… HERE is a link for a few hip stretches to keep you limber.
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!