It’s Leg Day Y’all
For part II of our home gym series we’ll be discussing 3 basic lower body exercises that will help strengthen important running and riding muscles: the quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves. These exercises can be done anywhere from your own home to a quiet park.
Why Strength Train for an Endurance Event?
If you’re training for a race or just want to be faster and think ‘strength’ training makes you too ‘buff’- don’t worry, the goal here is not to make you bigger, just stronger.
The benefits of strength training for endurance athletes is that it can help reduce the risk of injuries, improve running economy and may even make you outright faster by increasing your ability to produce force, which in turn, increases stride length and frequency. Don’t believe me? Ask Meb Keflezighi, who set an all time PR and won the Boston Marathon after working with a trainer to include lifting in his training*.
Strength training for cyclists could not be more important to add into your weekly routine. Lifting weights can increase bone strength (particularly important for this low-impact sport), increase endurance and power while reducing the risk of injuries dramatically.
What You Need to Get Started
A 10-30lb dumbbell or kettlebell, or if you don’t have this, an object of similar weight that you can hold in your hands (pots, pans, crockpot). For the deadlift and calf raises, something with a handle is ideal. Also, if you’re new to strength training, these movements are great as bodyweight exercises too.
IMPORTANT: Because of the high reps, you do not need a weight that is too heavy, the idea is technique and reps with some weight to activate the targeted muscle. Find something that makes the movement relatively easy for first 5 reps, but keep targeted area activated, and challenging towards the 15/20th rep.
Ready!? LET’S GO!
For each exercise complete the following:
- 3-4 sets
- 15-20 reps
- 60-120” rest between sets
- Perform all movements slowly and in control until your form is perfect and then increase speed.
- Try to focus on using the three points of contact on your feet at all time. (https://www.fixflatfeet.com/foot-tripod/)
Goblet Squat (15-20 reps each leg):
Start by holding your weight in front of your chest, position your feet about shoulder width apart, with toes very slightly turned out, and then sink down, using the weight in your hands to counterbalance your hips and then press up through your feet and extend your hips at the top. A good goal for range of motion is to have your femurs (thighs) parallel to the ground at the bottom of the movement. Also, make sure the knees track straight and aren’t caving in or out.
Romanian Deadlift (15-20 reps each leg):
Start with feet shoulder width apart, and your weight held in front of you with both hands. Take a slight bend in the knees and then hinge at the hips, ending the range of motion when your hands are somewhere between just below the knee and mid shin OR when your hamstrings begin to feel a really tight stretch. Come back up by extending the hips. Be sure to maintain a neutral spine through the entire range of motion (don’t let your shoulders cave in or back bend in any way).
Calf Raises (10 reps each leg, 20 total):
Start by standing on a step with the balls of your feet hip width apart, one hand on a weight and one hand on a banister or wall for balance, drop your heels towards the ground and then raise them back up. Emphasize full range of motion and pause for a second at the bottom and top of the movement. Also, keep the knees locked to keep the load on the calves.
Other Things to Keep in Mind:
Each movement should be done slowly to maintain control and increase time under load. If these movements are new to you, we highly recommend beginning with body-weight ONLY and then progressing to weight SLOWLY. Do not continue if any discomfort or uncertainty with movements.
Alright Runner and RiderBox Fam: Stay Inside. Stay Motivated. Stay Moving.
**This article is not a prescription for injury rehabilitation, if you have an injury seek the attention of a physical therapist. Perform these exercises at your own risk.