Exercise helps us burn calories, work our muscles and improve our well being. Apart from the obvious benefits, there are various exercises which help to improve your speed and quicken our movements.
They strengthen muscles and activate muscle power. These exercises if practised twice or thrice weekly before or after a run can better one’s speed.
Squats are a very important exercise in strength training as it affects the muscles of the thighs, buttocks and hips, hamstrings, glutes, quads etc. It helps in strengthening the legs, core and lower body.
It can also improve knee stability and prevent common running injuries.
Squats are done by standing with heels as wide as the shoulders. Toes must be pointed out along with extended arms. The hips are moved back till the thighs are at a 90-degree angle with the floor, knees are bent. The torso is lowered and then the body is moved back into an upright position.
Squats can also be done using weights and bars as well. There are a number of different squats which can also be done such as, single-leg squats, weighted overhead squat, rear foot elevated split squat etc.
Lunges are a fairly simple exercise which is used for muscle building, strength and endurance. Yoga includes a number of asanas which are lunge-related showing us how important this exercise can be.
Highly effective at evening out muscle imbalances, a lunge is a single-leg bodyweight exercise which works the hips, core, glutes, quads, hamstrings and inner thigh muscles.
Lunges are done by placing one leg forward. The weight is shifted onto the leg which is moved forward and the leg is placed flat on the floor.
The body is lowered until the thigh is parallel to the floor and the shin vertical. Then drive back up to a standing position.
It can be performed using body weight alone. However, dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells etc. can be used as well.
- Box Jump
The box jump exercise is one which not only improves the reaction of various muscle fibres throughout the body but also helps decrease the risk of injury and increases the runner’s ability to make sudden stops.
A box jump requires a box-like or elevated surface. With the feet kept shoulder width apart jump onto the box. Make sure that it is a smooth landing and in a squat like position. Hold this for 2-3 seconds and step back down. The higher the jump the more the muscles are activated.
Box Jumps are best done after a warm up and before other exercises.
- Single Leg Balance Exercises
While running both feet are never on the ground at the same time and one leg must bear the body and its impact. Foot strength, coordination of foot placement and accuracy of each step is very important while running. Single leg balance exercises are meant to strengthen each leg. This improves balance, trail agility and prevents ankle sprains.
Single leg balance exercises are done by balancing on one leg while either moving the other leg backwards or doing a half-squat on the leg being balanced on.
- Push Ups and Pull Ups
Upper body strength is usually ignored by runners. Our arms are a critical part of our running especially while moving uphill or on technical terrain. However, it is very important that upper body strength is gained without gaining extra mass.
The aim is to stay strong and light. Push-Ups work the triceps, pelts, abdominals etc while Pull-Ups work the biceps, forearms, back muscles etc.
These exercises only show results if tried for a couple of weeks before giving up. Find the best combination that works and stick to it!
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