How (and Why) To Strength Train for Running

If you’re a runner who wants to be faster, or just wants to be able to run farther without injury, just running more miles isn’t going to get you the best results. In fact, in some cases adding more running to your training load is a great way to put you on the sidelines with an injury. So how can you reach your goals without risking injury? By incorporating strength training into your workout routine.

Why isn’t running the best way to meet ones running goals?

Because running on its own can lead to muscle imbalances, which in turn can lead to injury. This is especially true in runners who have form or gait flaws, you will never be a record breaker if your injured. The body tissues take time to adjust to increased training – muscles and cardiovascular capacity adjust fairly quickly, but tendon, ligament and bone take considerably longer. And it is the tendons, ligaments and bones which strength training can impact most.

Many athletes avoid strength training, out of fear of adding bulk which might slow their running. The reality is, strength training in runners isn’t about adding bulk, just strength. That means lower weights, or just your body weight, and higher repetitions.

Here’s a sample workout that is great for runners.

Planks – Lie face down on the ground as if you were going to do a push up. Place your hands palm down under your shoulders and feet shoulder width apart. Push up, keeping straight arms and a straight line from the top of your head down through your toes. Hold this position for as long as you can. The goal is to be able to hold the plank with good form for up to 5 minutes. If it is too difficult with straight legs, you can drop down to your knees.

Expert Tip: Make this exercise more challenging by adding leg raises to target the gluteal muscles, lowering down to your forearms and raising back up, or raising each leg out and to the side, moving your knees towards your elbows.

Pushups – Lie face down on the ground with your hands just under your shoulders. Push up with your arms while keeping a straight line with your body from the top of your head down through your heels. Don’t allow the hips to sag, nor should you allow them to rise above the line between the head and heels. Do as many as you can, and add more each time you do this exercise. Work your way up to being able to do 50. If straight legged pushups are too difficult, drop down to your knees while maintaining the straight line.

Bent Over Dumbbell Row – Sit on the edge of a weight bench as if sitting in a chair with 2 dumbbells in your hands. The weight of the dumbbells should be difficult but not impossible for you to lift. Bend forward from the hips keeping your back straight (not arched) and lower your hands to the floor. Pull the weights toward your body using your arms and shoulders until they come to rest near your armpits. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you do this exercise. Repeat for 10 – 20 repetitions.

Hip Bridges with Leg Raises – Lie on your back with your arms at your sides, palms pushing into the floor. Now pull in your feet towards your buttocks and lift up your hips into a hip bridge. Lift the hips as high as possible to engage the glutes. Hold for one minute. Now straighten out your right leg, lift it over your hips perpendicular to the floor, now lower. Continue lifting and lowering while continuing to hold the bridge position as high as possible with your other leg. Repeat 10 – 20 times on each leg.

Alternating Overhead Lunges – Standing with feet slightly apart, lift a pair of dumbbells overhead, with your arms straight. Step back with your left leg and lower down until your front knee approaches 90 degrees and your rear knee is about an inch off the floor. Return to the starting position, then repeat with your right leg. That’s one repetition. Repeat 10 – 20 times on each leg.

Adding these exercises to your workout routine targets the core and hip muscles which are so important for runners.

Reebok Nano v Nike Metcon Shoes for CrossFit

Over the past five years the CrossFit shoe market has been dominated by the very popular Reebok nano. The nano is now into it’s 4th generation and on the 25th of June 2015 the nano 5.0 will be realest to the public.

new-nanos

There are other shoe brands that offer alternatives but with Reebok’s brand power, sponsorship of the games and all the popular CrossFit athletes. The company has had pretty much free range when anyone asks the question what are the best CrossFit shoes on the market. As a dominate brand you don’t just sell shoes you also sell everything and anything you can to the Crossfit faithful. To say the affiliation with Crossfit has been profitable is probably an understatement.

Things never stay the same for long especially when money is concerned. Nike have now entered the CrossFit market with their very own CrossFit shoe called the Metcon. It’s an interesting move by Nike and I am a little surprised they haven’t entered the market sooner. So far Nike have only realest the Crossfit shoes but I would think they will be also designing a range of other gear to take a bigger piece of the CrossFit pie.

nike-metcon

Before I ramble on any further I would to quickly say to all the CrossFit athletes out there if you have any old shoes please consider donating them to shoes for Africa. Please read this article they do a lot of good work for kids in Africa and always need more shoe donations.

Now because I am so awesome I have managed to get my hands on a pair of nano 5.0 before the release date and I wanted to highlight a few differences between the nano 5.0 and the Metcon 1.0.

I compared the nano 4 to the Metcon on another blog in January. A lot of people who do CrossFit came down on me hard because I edged the Metcon as the better shoe. It was quite funny because I knew all the people dogging me had never even seen the new Metcon and the only reason why they where angry is because they had been brain washed with corporate branding!

The Metcon has a better lacing system called the flywire, it’s more durable and is very good for lifting the downside of the Metcon is it’s dam ugly, not very good for running long periods and isn’t that comfortable.

The nano 5.0 is different to the 4.0 but still retains a lot of the good features. I like the way it looks, it’s lighter and offers a snug fitting. After only twos days of testing I can only guess at some aspects but from experience I don’t think it’s as durable as the 4.0 or the metcon. The lacing system is fine but no where near as good as the metcon. I like the sole, the styling but I am surprised that the duracage has been replaced. From a design point of view I think it looks better without the duracage but I feel Reebok have given Nike the edge again.

The true is both shoes are awesome for CrossFit training. They lack the ability to morph into other sports but they tick so many boxes that it’s probably not possible for them to do everything anyway.

The metcon is priced at $110.00 and you get a lot of shoe tech for the money. The new nano 5.0 is priced at 129.99 and I feel you would get a better deal with the metcon.

I’ve been wearing the Metcon since January and I have had two people in all that time point them out. I have had the nano 5.0 on my feet around five hours and well over ten people have commented. The metcon is a better all round shoe but I am a sneakerhead at heart and I love good looking shoes. My head says metcon but my heart says nano if I had to choose I would opt for the new nano but if I was a competing CrossFit athlete I would still opt for the metcon.

Running in Hot and Cold Weather

Running is a wonderful outdoor activity!  All you need is time, space, and sneakers!  Many regions in the United States see the seasons change and the temperatures transition from hot and humid to cold and wintry.  Dedicated fans of running still manage to run outdoors, year-round. Take a few precautions, and you too can be running all year long.

Running in Hot and Cold Weather

Running in the Heat

Parks and trails offer some spectacular views of lakes, trees, and gardens for runners.  But with the summer months comes excessive heat and humidity.  Don’t let the weather keep you from enjoying a favorite outdoor activity.  Here are some helpful suggestions for being safe in the summer’s heat:

  1. Run either in the morning or early evening hours when it’s not as hot.
  2. Keep yourself hydrated throughout the day by drinking plenty of fluids.
  3. If you decide to run at night, wear reflective gear or fluorescent clothing so you are visible to drivers.
  4. If you run in humid weather, don’t wear cotton as it absorbs moisture and can cause chaffing.
  5. If you run during the day, wear a light cap, sunglasses, and sunscreen for protection.
  6. Invest in fabrics that are made of synthetic fibers. These fabrics wick away sweat and keep you dry.

Running in the Cold

The winter months can also offer some breath taking views of a winter wonderland for runners to enjoy, but with winter weather comes harsh, cold temperatures.  If you love the winter and those frosty winter runs, follow these tips to keep yourself warm and safe:

  1. Before heading out the door, check to see what the weather conditions are in your area. Wait until the roads are clear and dry and free of icy patches before you run.
  2. There is nothing more motivating than exercising with a friend. Friends can keep you on track and motivate to stick to your running goal.
  3. Wear socks that are made of wicking fabric to keep your feet dry during wet or snowy weather.
  4. Make sure you dress as if it were 20 degrees warmer. As you begin moving, your body heats up, so you want to start out feeling cool.
  5. If you are running before the sun comes up or after dark, wear reflective gear and/or fluorescent clothing, so people driving can see you.
  6. If it’s very dark outside, use a headlamp or carry a flashlight.
  7. After your run, change your clothes as soon as you can to avoid getting a chill.

The Serious Runner:  Purchasing a Running Suit

If you know you are training for a race or just plan on consistently running in colder weather, consider investing in a running suit.  When choosing a running suit, look for these features:

  1. Shop for a jacket with a collar that fits close to your chin. Make sure the collar won’t itch you when the zipper is zipped to the top.
  2. The collar should fit snuggly around your chin to prevent the cold air from getting in and under your clothing.
  3. The sleeves should let you access your watch or heart rate monitor with ease. Look for jackets that have velcro or elastic at the wrist.
  4. The pants, jacket (sides), and back should include vents to allow breathability.
  5. The jacket panel should be long enough to cover your derriere (buttocks) to keep it warm.
  6. There should be zippers at the base of your pants, so you can remove them with your sneakers still on your feet.

Keeping these tips in mind as you prepare for a run will help you stay safe and healthy, so you can keep on running!

How to Choose a Sports Bra

If you’ve ever tried to do a high-impact sport in a standard bra you know that, for many women, it’s next to impossible.  There just isn’t enough support and having proper chest support during a workout is too important to ignore.  So what do you do with the girls when you go out for a run?

How to Choose a Sports Bra

Here are some helpful suggestions to consider when shopping for a sports bra.  Let’s begin with the basics.

What is a Sports Bra?

A sports bra is a type of bra that provides additional chest support during exercise such as running, aerobics, and other types of physical exercise.  Sports bras can reduce motion and help minimize the risk of potential damage to chest ligaments.

What To Look For

When shopping for a sports bra, look for bras that are comfortable and made with wicking fabrics.  Wicking fabrics wick sweat away from the body, keep you comfortable, and reduce chafing.  Don’t be surprised if you see the word polyester on a sports bra label!  This is a good sign as polyester is a wicking fabric.

Here are some other recommendations to follow when shopping for a sports bra:

Band Around Chest

Make sure the band around your chest fits snug but not tight.  Move around by raising your hands over your head, bending them, and swinging them around.  The band should not move .  If it does, the fabric will rub against your skin and the area may become irritated.  This discomfort can sabotage your workout plans.

Fabric

The fabric that covers the breast or the cup area should also fit snug.  Test it out by jumping up and down.  Your breasts should feel comfortable and there should be a minimum amount of bouncing.  For this sensitive area, look for fabrics that wick away perspiration.  Avoid cotton as this material absorbs sweat leaving it wet against your skin.

Crafted Seams

Look for seamless bras.  Exam the bra seams and see how well it is constructed.  The seams should be sewn flat without extra material that can cause irritation.

Price

As with a good pair of running sneakers, you can expect to pay more for a good sports bra.  For a quality sports bra plan on paying somewhere between $30 and $40.  For larger breasted women, you could pay even more.

Caring for Your Sports Bras

Your beautiful, delicate lingerie requires special care and so do your sports bras.  If you want to get more wear out of a well made bra, wash them on the gentle cycle and let them air dry.  This will prolong the life of the elastic in your bra.

And for the last bit of advice, as with most of your undergarments, when they lose their shape or no longer provide comfortable support, it’s time to replace them and a sports bra is no exception!

Common Sports Bra Brands

Here is a list of some of the popular sports bra brands on the market today:

  • Brooks
  • Moving Comfort
  • Numetrex
  • ISIS
  • Helly Hansen
  • Sugoi
  • Zensah
  • New Balance
  • 2XU
  • Skirt Sports
  • Saucony

Take the girls out for a test drive and see for yourself what a difference a sports bra can make!

How to Start a Walking or Jogging Routine at Any Age

Age is a state of mind!  If you think you’re old, then you’ll start to notice all those  signs associated with old age, and I don’t know of anyone who has ever enjoyed getting physically older!

How to Start a Walking or Jogging Routine at Any Age

You can slow down the aging process by keeping yourself active and healthy.  An aerobic exercise routine performed at least three times a week can help you do just that.  Exercise increases your energy level, increases your strength, and improves your posture.  For women, engaging in a regular exercise program decreases your chances of suffering from symptoms of menopause, obesity, mood disturbances, high blood pressure, dementia and more.

One of the best ways to keep yourself active, is by walking or jogging.  If you’ve decided to get underway with a walking or jogging routine, here are some very important and useful tips to get you moving in the right direction:

Physician Check-Up

Before you begin an exercise routine, visit your physician first.  Your doctor may decide to give you a stress test during this visit.  Very simply, a stress test monitors your heart rate while you walk at varying speeds on a treadmill.  The doctor monitors your heart rate before, during, and after exercise to see how your heart responds to physical stress and how quickly your body recovers.

Warm-Up

Regardless of how fast or how long you plan on exercising, always remember to warm up.  You can accomplish this by doing a few light stretches to loosen your muscles.   But be mindful  not to bounce as you could injure yourself; stretching is done gently.  By doing light stretches, you’ll put less stress on your body as you move into jogging.

Start Easy

Remember the phrase, “you have to walk before you can run”?  Well, it still holds true!  Start your exercise routine off by walking, without stopping, for a distance of about 2 to 3 miles.  If you notice that you are gasping for breath, stop and rest.  Listen to your body!  If you are tired or sore then adjust your distance, and consider reducing your mileage to 1 or 2 miles.  When you can accomplish walking a few miles, then ease into jogging.  Start slow and don’t overdue!  When walking or jogging, maintain a conversational pace.

Increase Gradually

Now that you’ve accomplished your first goal, it’s time to challenge yourself.  Don’t overdue by increasing your mileage to quickly.  Build gradually by adding about 1/4 of a mile per week.  Remember this simple rule:  Increase distance, and hold; then increase again, and hold.

Final Stretch

Your cheeks are flushed, your heart is pumping, and you just reached the end of your walk or jog.  You feel alive and elated, but before you reach for a smoothie, stretch your muscles by going a little deeper than before you started your workout.  When you complete a walk or jog, your muscles are already warmed up, so it’s safe to stretch a little further and always remember, be careful not to bounce!

Take a Friend

Many people enjoy walking and jogging by themselves.  It’s that part of the day that you reserve for you.  Yet, there is comfort in knowing that you have a companion at your side.  Walking or jogging with a friend or family member is a much safer option.  For one, you can control your breathing by engaging in a conversational pace with your partner.  Another reason is the possibility of injury.  Someone is there to help you!

The benefits of walking and jogging are endless, and you’ll start to feel younger and stronger with each stride.  So don’t give into age – get up, start walking, get moving!

20 CrossFit WODs for Women

Crossfit is not just a men thing now. Meet the newest converts to Crossfit: Women!

20-crossfit-wods-for-women

If you are a woman who wants to look fit and gain confidence, what is better than pushing your limits with Crossfit? Here are some WODs for you.

1 – 100-Foot Walking Lunge

It is just the basic lunge with a boost and works on your glutes, hamstrings, quads and biceps. What you need to do is start by standing straight with your feet together and perhaps holding two dumbbells, which should be ideally five to ten lbs. Now step forward as far as you can with your left leg, while moving the dumbbells up to your shoulder and keeping your elbows close to the body. Also, lower your hips and bend both knees until your right knee touches the ground. After this you can come back to your starting position and continue it with your right leg. You can perhaps repeat this movement till 100 feet or in other words about 25 lunges on each leg.

2 – 50 Sit-Ups

Sit ups are real simple. Just lie on a mat with your feet in front of you in a straight position. After this, lift your arms over your head and rise into a sitting position. You can repeat this 50 times.

3 – 25 Knees-to-Elbows

You would need a pull up bar for this. You can repeat 25 times, using your core muscles to draw your knees as close to your elbows as possible.

4 – 50 Box Jumps

All you have to do is get a one to two foot high box and stand in front of it. Then, while keeping your core muscles tight jump and land lightly on the box. Repeat 50 times.

5 – 50 Push-Ups

Pushups are ideal for women and also are preferred more over other weight lifting, stretching or cardiovascular exercises. Women often lack upper body strength and pushups can help strengthen chest, abdominal and lower back.  You do them by placing yourself in a horizontal position facing down and then by using your arms to raise and lower yourself. Try repeating them 50 times.

6 – Double-Unders

Double Under is a simple concept that stimulates your nervous system. It is done by jumping over a rope by passing it under your feet twice in a single jump.  You can try 50 double unders, with 21 kettlebell swings at 55 lbs. and 12 pull-ups

7 – The Burpees

It is for your chest, shoulders and abs. You can try three to four sets with ten repeats. Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Then, bend your knees to lower in to a squat position with your hands touching the floor and jump your feet in to a plank position. After this do a push up. You can lower your knees if necessary. Jump your feet back up to your hands and from this crouched position jump up, similar to a squat jump. This completes one rep. Do 15.

8 – Pike press

In order to target your shoulder more than your chest, try out pike press. Start out with a downward dog with your legs wide and from this position do a push up.

9 – Dive bomb

This is fun and challenging. From a pike press position, glide into cobra pose. This would mean that your chest must be low to the ground and you would need to push back into downward dog.

10 – Butterfly sit-ups

Lie face up on the floor and brace your core because you would be required to simply sit up with your legs in a frog position. You can complete 21-15-9 repetitions of each of the following: Butterfly sit-ups, kettle bell swings, and squats for a proper WOD.

11 – Tricep dip

For a Tricep dip, position your hands shoulder-width apart on a secured bench or stable chair and slide your butt off the front of the bench with your legs extended out in front of you. Remember to keep your arms straight but with a little bend in your elbows to keep tension on your triceps and off your elbow joints. Now bend your elbows slowly to lower your body, until your elbows are at about a 90-degree angle. Once you are done return to the position you started from. Do 15 to 20 reps per set and aim to do two to three sets.

12 – 25 Overhead Squats

Start by standing with your feet a little bit wider than your shoulder width. You can use a barbell as well for this. Remember while performing a full squat, put your weight on your heels and your knees should track directly over your toes. Also keep your chest up and abs tight throughout the WOD. Perform 25 reps.

13 – Deadlifts

Deadlifts are significant in strength training as they work on all the major muscles. They can be performed along with squats and pull ups to build more stamina.

Specific WODs

14 – Keep as A 20-minute time cap to complete 25 sit-ups, 20 walking lunges, five pull-ups and a 400-meter run. You can even add in the lunge, dumbbell or kettlebell for more challenge.

15 – 4 Rounds of 800 meter run, 30 squats, and 30 pushups

16 – 100 pushups, 100 air squats, 100 sit-ups.

17 – AMRAP 20 – 20 walking lunges, 20 situps, 20 pushups, 20 squats

CrossFit Moms

18 – For a beginner Crossfit Mom the following WOD could work out: 15 squats, 15 plank walks, 15 squats and 15 dumbbell shoulder press #10

19 – This intermediate Crossfit WOD would also be good for CrossFit Moms -20 squats, 20 plank walks, 20 squats and 20 dumbbell shoulder press #15

20 – This is and Advanced WOD for Crossfit Moms: 30 squats, 30 plank walks, 30 squats and 30 dumbbell shoulder press #25

Also see mens version here

20 CrossFit WODs for Men

Nearly all of you guys wish to have a firm, well-toned figure. Maybe it is time that you try Crossfit.

20 crossfit wods

A List of the Twenty Crossfit Exercises for Men:

  1. Squat to Dumbbell Press

Want incredible legs, a toned butt, and stronger shoulders? Now you can by holding two dumbbells at chest level, pushing your hips back and lowering into a squat. Remember to keep your chest upright and try this twelve to fifteen times.

  1. Crunch on Ball

If you crunch on a stability ball, you can definitely boost activation and flexing of your abdominal muscles. The procedure is simple: Rest your back on a Swiss ball and hold a weight at arm’s length. Then, all you need to do is crunch your torso until you are sitting upright. Sets: 3 Reps: 10–15.

  1. Bird Dog Exercise

Now you can strengthen your “posterior core” by just getting down on your knees, aligned directly under your hips and placing your hands on the ground, aligned just beneath your shoulders. After this, stretch your right hand and simultaneously also your left leg forward. When done, repeat with the other leg.

  1. Side Plank with Leg Lift

Sets: 4 Reps. Start by lying on your side and resting your weight on your forearm. Now, you would need to bridge your hips up so your body forms a straight line and then suspend your top leg in the air.

  1. Single-leg Hip Bridge

Rest your upper back against a bench or chair and then extend one leg forward. After this, also raise your hips to the level of the bench you are sitting on. Repeat this exercise three times.

  1. Suspended or Weighted Push up

You will need Blast Straps and a Jungle Gym or a TRX Suspension Trainer for this exercise. Start by attaching the aforementioned equipment to the top of a chin up bar to perform pushups. Do not forget to keep your body as low to the floor as possible. Try fifteen to twenty repeats.

  1. The Child Pose –Balasana

It is a resting pose practiced in the fetal position by kneeling on the floor with your back straight and your heels pointing outwards. This pose focuses on your thighs and relieves back, shoulder, neck, and hip strain. It can also be a great source of physical, mental and emotional relief. Try staying in this position for about four to five minutes.

  1. Lever Press

It works on your shoulder muscles by forcing them to one by one take on heavy load. Set the machine at the correct load for you and sit with an erect torso. Then, grip the handles with your right hand and extend your left leg in front of yourself. After this, raise the bar straight over your head, while also rolling your torso to the left. Do two or three sets of eight to twelve on each arm.

  1. Medicine Ball Squat Thrust/Press

Hold a medicine ball with both hands and squat down. After this, go in to push up position on the floor with your hands on the ball. Do as many repeats as you can in fifteen seconds.

  1. Single-Leg Dumbbell Deadlift

It works on your glutes, hamstrings and thighs. Place the two dumbbells before you on the floor and stand on one leg, with your back erect and knee of the supporting leg a little bit bent. Now, bend at the hips and grab them with your arms straight.

  1. Muscle and Clean press

Muscle and Clean press is excellent for your shoulder as it allows them to experience a full range of motion. For this you will need to hold a barbell with a shoulder-width grip and row it parallel to the floor. Do two sets of five to eight reps.

  1. Cable Chest Flye

This works on your chest, triceps and biceps. You would need a cable machine for this purpose. Start by grabbing its D handles and pull one handle while taking a step forward with one leg. Now bring the handles in such a position that it would seem like you are hugging your chest. Do three sets with eight to twelve repeats.

  1. Lower Back Extension

Lower back pains are common in men mainly due to muscle strain, weak back muscles and excess weight around the belly. But do not worry, as you can now overcome it with the lower back extension exercise. To do this exercise, lie face down on an exercise mat and inhale as you slowly lift your shoulders and upper chest off the ground. After this exhale and get back on the ground. Try repeating this eight to ten times.

  1. The Plank

Plank is all about the various ways we can hold the trunk of our body off the ground in a straight line. It gives you the perks of an improved posture and balance, strengthened core, shoulders and arms, along with the prevention of osteoarthritis. Try to do 8-10 repetitions, holding the position a little longer each time.

  1. Stability Ball Exercise

This is fun. Start by lying on your back and place your legs over the stability ball, with your knees at right angles. Then, raise your left leg and right arm simultaneously above the stability ball. Do the same with your right leg and left arm. 10-12 repetitions would be best.

  1. Spinal Twist

Lie on an exercise mat and bring your knees to your chest. Hold one of them and extend the other leg. Desirably, you should stay in this position for five to eight seconds, after which you can switch legs and perform 5-6 repetitions.

  1. Wide-Grip Pull up

Grab a chin up bar at shoulder-width and do four sets. You can even add weights.

  1. Dumbbell Swing

It is very easy. All you need to do is hold a dumbbell with both hands, first let it drift between your legs and then pull it up. Try this out for 30 seconds.

  1. One-Arm Row

For One arm row you would need to hold the bar with an overhand grip and bend at the hips, while pulling the bar first in front of your body and then overhead.

  1. Bulgarian Split Squat

Remember to keep your torso upright before bending your front knee and lowering your body.

Womens version here