Here’s a sneak peak at one of my strength workouts from this week and a little bit of the why behind its structure….
I typically recommend at least 2 strength days per week for most runners and break them up into movement patterns.
On a 3 day schedule, like I’m doing now I’ll I break it down as follows:
Day 1: Upper body push and quad dominant movements
Day 2: Upper body pull and hinge/hamstring dominant movement
Day 3: More lateral/rotational movement OR more dynamic plyometric movement depending on the week*
*If I’m only programming 2 days, I’ll makes sure to add more lateral movements into both of the other two.
This is a Day 1, upper body push and quad focused workout:
I usually go for hamstrings (with the long lever bridges), core/pelvis positioning (bridges and bear to downdog), connecting breathing (bear to down dog), and some reciprocal movement (reverse lunge to crossconnect).
1-2 sets through depending on readiness, moving with your breath for 10-15 breaths.
This section has two goals.
1) Train the body to absorb, use, and produce force.
2) Rev up the central nervous system to prepare for hard efforts.
2 Sets of 10
**You can start with a shorter step and work up to this. In my Women’s Running Academy Mentorship we have purposeful progressions towards doing this with confidence along the way.
MAIN STRENGTH SET
Depending on where I am in a training cycle I might do anywhere from 3 sets of 10-15 up to 5 sets of 5.
With this main strength set being more bilateral (both sides at the same time) in nature I’m going after more rotation here with the accessory work.
3 Sets of 10 reps.
All the parts are connected, we need a good landing for good loading. We need good loading for good propulsion AND we need good propulsion for a good landing.
There is a lot of conversation about heel strike or foot landing position for minimizing loading forces on the body. While it’s true that a foot strike closer into our center of mass minimizes the loading forces on the body, I think keeping the conversation focused on that misses the mark a bit.
What we really need is to optimize the way the lower body handles the load so that we can store elastic energy, get really stable especially through that mid stance to optimize that transfer of energy and then work on hip extension to propel us forward while taking advantage of the energy that we have stored with good loading and stability through mid-stance.
Even for someone who has a tendency toward overstriding, paying more attention to strength/stability through the middle and propulsion forward are the more important pieces in my opinion. Doing so will likely take care of the landing position while also significantly improving your overall running economy. That’s the magic right there!
I have an uncontrollable habit of watching how people run. There so much that each stride can tell you about the needs of the body. Sometimes it takes a lot of constraint not to stop someone on the trail and say “you know you could use some…” I don’t do it, because that’s both weird and rude, but I definitely think it. It's not out of judgement by anymeans, but simply a genuine love for the sport and helping people feel and perform their best.
It's to the point that my husband now knows and whenever he sees a runner pass us while we’re out he asks “so, what did you think?”
Anyway, what’s crazy is, in all the years of analyzing others running (both by request and as my uncontrolled hobby), I’ve never done it for myself. In this post, we’ll look at my running gait and then how I would use what I see to design a strength training program tailored specifically to the needs of my body.
So you’re starting to think about getting back into exercise postpartum?
This post will cover some exercises to help get you started. They will ease you back into movement and provide some much needed support to your postpartum body.
It’s been hot AF here in South Carolina over the past few weeks and I’ve definitely been feeling it on my runs.
Oh how I miss my pre-motherhood days of just being able to get up and run without worrying about anyone else…
It’s been 8:30 or 9:00 and already almost 90 by the time I get out the door lately after taking care of the kiddos and making sure my breasts are empty enough to run (I’m probably overly cautious with this one but I do NOT want mastitis again!).
5 tips to beat the heat this summer
Wrtiten By: Alexandra Jones
I’m Alison’s super awesome “baby” sister, but I’m also a client. Though I don’t have kids of my own, I play the role of school-mom to 80+ high schoolers in Baltimore City. As a special educator, balance and exercise have not inherently been a part of my vocabulary and my overall health had been suffering for years- even before I became a teacher. I’ve also been living my entire life with a mood disorder, so when I’m down or stressed, which for a while was pretty much every day, the thought alone of doing anything but laying on the couch and watching TV sucked all the energy from my body. However, I’ve spent the last 18 or so months working [with Alison] extra hard to establish and maintain routines around exercise, nutrition, and self-care.
[Alex will be bloging occasionally about her experiences with self-care, health and fitness. She's much better of a story telling than I am. I hope you enjoy (and learn a little something).]
Chapter 1: Sunday Morning
The pigeons outside my bedroom window were cooing gently as I opened my eyes to a few rays of sunshine peeking in through the blinds. The alarm had not gone off yet. I breathed deeply, stretched, and rolled over to shut it off before it sliced through the quiet, enjoying the feeling of waking up energized. I couldn’t even remember the last time that happened, but here I was, waking up on a Sunday morning, without feeling anxious about all the things I needed to get done; I was satisfied, content, HAPPY. I could sense that the day was going to be filled with pure magic and joy.
Pushups, when done with proper form, activate nearly every muscle in your body. Your biceps, core muscles, triceps, anterior deltoids, and lower body muscle groups are all activated to support your body and stabilizing your movement. This makes pushups are great for your heart too! When you simultaneously work large muscle groups, your heart must work harder to deliver oxygenated blood to all the muscles. Ultimately, pushups are both an effective strength and cardiovascular exercise, which stimulates muscle growth, supports heart health and promotes fat loss.
Bonus: You don’t need any equipment or very much time to get in somebody toning pushups! Now drop and give me 10!
...wait… remember that part about perfect form to maximize effectiveness. Before you drop and give me 10 read on about the perfect pushup form, how to master the perfect pushup, and how to build the strength to get off your knees.
Perfect Pushup Form
While you read this really let the form sink in. Don’t let the negative thoughts in your brain tell you “you can’t do it perfectly like that anyway, why bother”.... Because with practice you can! I’m going to show you how at the end of this post.
“Now I can do pushups and I really like that. I like when I got into the yoga class now and I’m the one that’s going to be full on pushups. Even if there are other things I can’t do that give me so much confidence and pride.”
Step 1: Get into a straight arm plank position with hands planted directly under the shoulders (slightly wider than shoulder width apart). Ground the toes into the floor about hip width apart (wider for more balance or feet together for an added core challenge) to stabilize the bottom half of the body. Engage the abs and back so the body is neutral, in one straight line.
Step 2: Begin to lower the body as you inhale—back flat, eyes focused about three feet in front of your hands to keep a neutral neck—until you nearly touch the floor, chest directly between the hands. Don’t let the butt dip or stick out at any point during the move; the body should remain flat from head to toe all the way through the movement. Draw the shoulder blades back and down, while keeping the elbows tucked close to the body, so the upper arms form a 45-degree angle at the bottom of the pushup position and the elbows break the plane of the back.
Step 3: Keeping the core engaged, exhale as you push back to the start position as explosively as possible.
HOW TO GET THERE
That’s all well and good but pushups are hard. Which is why we women often resort to dropping to our knees. Yes they make it easier because they take away some of the weight you are pushing up but they also take away from all those full body benefits mentioned above.
Instead, try the Negative pushup!
These engage the full body the same way as the full pushup while helping you build up the strength necessary to complete the whole movement. All the work in a Negative pushup is done lowering yourself down as slow as possible. Don't worry about how you are getting back up.
Here’s how it works:
Be sure to follow all of the good from rules above.
Step 1: Start in a perfect pushup plank position as mention above.
Step 2: Slowly lower your body all the way down to the floor. Really focus on keeping that perfect straight line form I talked about earlier. Unless you are pregnant don’t worry about falling onto your belly; in that case, inclined pushups are a better option. Use every last bit of strength to go as slow as possible, and then lay down on the floor. Take 2-second break if necessary.
Step 3: Push yourself back up into the plank by any means necessary.
Start with 3 sets of 10 a couple times a week. After a few weeks, try to make the first few full pushups and go back to the negative pushups when you can’t do anymore. Over time the ratio with shift and you’ll be doing more and more full pushups.
These are a few of my favorite things (raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens… sorry I can’t not sing that song when I hear that line). They are mostly practical, but also with a little bit of fun…
Here is your Living Room Workout Club Holiday Fit Gift Guide!
For a mom looking to start a new fitness routine or create a healthy lifestyle, the two main obstacles are time and energy.
I’ve written already on how to be more efficient with your time and talked about how you can squeeze it in when you can, but to even get there you need E.N.E.R.G.Y.
Of course, the first thing to address regarding energy is sleep, but if you are like many moms how much sleep you are getting is out of your control. However, if you aren’t getting as much sleep as you could be getting (honestly), you really should check yourself!
Here are 3 things you can control that will help you get your energy back.
When we think getting fit, toning up, losing weight we think about (and then get overwhelmed by) the big things…
The right workout - strength training, HIIT, cardio… what’s best?
Finding the time to work out… how often is best?
Eating healthier, meal planning…
To an already overtired, overworked, and overwhelmed mom this can be paralyzing!
I know because I’ve been there AND I’ve seen it time and time again with my clients.
Take a step back!
Sometimes it’s the littlest things that can make all the difference!