Let me start with a disclaimer that I am not a personal trainer, a doctor, physical therapist, or even a very smart person. I'm just here sharing what has worked and not worked for me. Just my 2 cents worth!For years I have lifted weights. I actually really enjoy it. I first started lifting about 9 years ago with a good friend of mine who was a fitness guru. She enjoyed doing research and was a group instructor for our local gym and taught classes at our church. I enjoyed learning about all the muscle groups and how to work them effectively. I learned that I was not going to bulk up and that I needed to lift heavy and I needed to hit muscle failure if I wanted to see results. I learned that you have to change up your routine to keep your body growing. I started lifting for weight loss. This friend, turned personal trainer, still teaches at our local gym. I love going to her classes because I don't have to think about what I'm going to do. I know that she'll make sure we hit all the major muscle groups and she'll kick my butt while doing it. The only problem with this class for me is that it is at 5:45 a.m. After the 4th child came along it got harder and harder to get up early and then survive the day with little kids. I started doing my routine at home. I was really dedicated at first. Then, slowly, my enthusiasm for it declined while my enthusiasm for running more took over. I didn't want to "waste" time on weights when I could be running. So it turned into hit and miss workouts. After a bunch of running injuries later, I reflected and could see that I ran the best when I was doing consistent weight training. Duh. Like I said, I'm not the brightest bulb in the box.
So during last winter I started doing workout videos and then during the summer I went back to her classes. It gave me a renewed love for weights and helped me build my strength back up. But once school started I was back to my same old excuse of it being too early. During the summer I'd come home and go back to bed or take a nap. I can't do that with school. So once fall hit I made a commitment to myself that I was going to lift at least twice a week at home. I have all the necessary equipment. So no more excuses! I would pick an exercise from a muscle group and do the following in a circuit and then repeat it 2 or 3 times. I liked to change it up every week and do different things. Quads: lunges, walking lunges, or jump lunges. Hamstrings: deadlifts, one legged deadlifts, or hamstring curl with a ball. Gludes: Squats, one legged squats, or butt lifts on the ball. Bicepts: Hammer curls, or regular curls. Tricepts: Skull crushers, tricept kickbacks, or overhead tricept presses. Shoulders: Overhead presses, frontal raises, or side raises. Chest: Push ups, chest flies, or chest presses. Back: Bent over rows or laying down lifts. Abs: Plank, side plank, lower lifts on a ball, the possibilities are endless. I started thinking about why I was doing this. I decided that the main reason I lift is to benefit my running. Sure, I like the benefits of burning more calories a day and the look of definition on my arms and legs and abs. But the main reason I lift is to improve my running. I want to run faster and farther and be able to do it injury free.
Once I had that goal in my mind I started wondering if what I was doing with my weights was really achieving that goal. I really love one legged deadlifts and one legged squats. They're just fun and it feels like a challenge. Sure, I was getting stronger, but was it really benefiting my running? About that time I came across an article that seemed to answer some of my questions. I decided that for a time I was going to switch up my routine and try this one. I printed it out and decided that I really liked it. I got sore and I like that all the movements involved are geared to making my running more efficient and keep those areas that tend to be weaker strong and injury resistant. The only thing I felt like it lacked was upper body. I added in some push ups and shoulder raises. After I had been doing that for a couple of weeks I read this article. It seemed to be the perfect balance. It had the everything I was looking for. So I've combined the two and I think ended up with the perfect full body work out to benefit my running.
Here is the order in which I do it in:
Active Warm Up: Carioka, High Knees turning into a skip, Frontal and then Side Leg Lifts, Donkey Kicks, and Sissors side to side and then front to back.
Strength and Balance Portion: Rocket Jumps (replaces jump offs from the first workout), Crossack Extension, Push ups, V-sits, Wrestlers Bridge, Single Leg Jumps, and Lateral Leaps. Then I repeat it for the 2nd set.
Core Stability: Rotating Knee Lift, Wood Choppers, Big Circles, Side Plank with a leg lift, and Bridge with a leg lift.
Stretching: I go through a yoga style stretch that includes downward dog, child's pose, pigeon pose, and then the groin stretch.
I like that it only takes about 35-40 minutes. I like that it has an active warm up. I am going to try to incorporate that part alone more before my normal runs to get the muscles and tendons ready to go. And it's a great way to get warmed up for the workout portion if you're not running before. I like to do it on the days I have an easy run or cross training. It says to start with 10 reps, work up to 15, and then do 2 sets of 10 reps. Last week I was able to do 2 sets of 15 reps with a 10 lb. weight. I still struggle with the V sits. And I haven't done the ball toss. As with any other weight work out you have to keep it fresh and increase the weight to continue to see results. I need to go buy a heavier medicine ball and I think I'll try for 3 sets in the next couple of weeks. I'd also like to do it 3 times a week instead of the 2 times that I've been doing. The great thing about plyometrics is that you can always jump higher or farther so you can't really outgrow them. The more I read about barefoot running and proper form, the more I realize that I need a super strong core. This workout is perfect for that. While I might not do this routine forever, it feels like a good fit for right now and I'll take it. If you don't have something you're totally in love with, you should try it out too!