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Health and Fitness News

Be a Better Runner

Exercises to improve speed and endurance.

On planet Earth, there are two types of people: those who love to run and those who hate it. A highly effective cardio workout, running is effective at burning serious calories, improving your fitness, and relieving stress. Unlike some exercises, running is goal oriented, and it’s simple to track your progress. Hence why many runners enjoy setting personal records, with going farther and faster two of the main goals of training.

Whether you love or hate running, you can get better at it. And there’s no real secret to improving. The more you run, the better you’ll get at it. If you want a real boost in your running, though, you’ll need to do more than pound the pavement. With these strength-training exercises, you’ll be poised to avoid injury, build muscle, improve endurance, and increase speed and power during your runs.

Deadlifts

Deadlifts work just about every muscle in your body, but especially the muscles on the back side of your body, including your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. When these muscles are strong, you’re able to run faster and push off stronger.
To perform a deadlift, stand behind a barbell with your feet placed hip-width apart. Bend at your knees and grasp the bar with an overhand grip (or mixed grip—one underhand and one overhand grip), hands placed shoulder-width apart. Using the strength of your legs and the forward thrust of your hips, lift the bar to your thighs. Pause and the lower the bar back to the floor.

Bulgarian Split Squats

The Bulgarian split squat uses one leg, which is excellent for improving balance and stability, both essential to running. To do the bulgarian split squat, stand three feet from a box, chair, or bench. Put the top of your left foot on the box behind you, place your hands on your hips, and bend your right knee as you lower your body into a lunge position. Lower until your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Return to standing and repeat. Keep your back straight throughout the movement.

Box Squat

Explosive jumping is one way to increase your speed and power to propel you forward in each stride. For a box squat, grab a box or bench that’s about knee height. You don’t want a box that’s any lower. Place the box behind you and lower into a squat position so your bottom barely rests on the box. Once your bottom touches the box, explosively stand up, using your hips and heels to propel your movement. Repeat. Add intensity by holding a weight during the exercise.

Box Jump

A box jump also uses explosive jumping, but this time you’re jumping up onto the box. Stand with your feet placed hip-width apart facing a sturdy box or step. Do a shallow squat and jump off both feet onto the box. Land both feet on the box gently, simultaneously, and with control. Step down and repeat. Add intensity by increasing the height of the box.

Power Clean

Another exercise to increase a runner’s power, explosivity, and speed is the power clean. Hold a barbell with an overhand grip, hands placed shoulder-width apart. Rest the bar in front of your body by your thighs, feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Chest up and back straight, slightly bend your knees and then explosively jump straight up while shrugging the bar into rack position as you slightly squat again. Keep the bar close to your body throughout the movement. Lower the bar to your hips and repeat.