Strength training in the gym is essential for improving our running form, increasing efficiency, and levelling-up our performance.
Although we might thinking running is all about, well, running, the reality is that strength training is the fundamental basis for improving your muscles and increasing your performance.
Getting started: Squats
If you’re just starting out in the world of running, you should start with exercises that will set you up with perfect form , and doing squats will get you on the right track.
It’s an exercise that will strengthen your body and be the basis for correct posture, alongside providing coordination and stability of the hips, knees and ankles
What to avoid when squatting
Although this is an exercise we’re all familiar with, it never hurts to stress and remind ourselves of the importance of good technique. One way of doing so is to look out for common mistakes:
- POSTURE: When descending, the spinal column shouldn’t undergo any postural change, remaining unconditionally straight. It’s extremely important not to curve or arch the back.
- LOAD: At the moment of descent, we’ll push the hips backwards in an energetic movement that gives us an optimal body load on the legs and glutes, allowing for a deep and effective squat.
To avoid damaging ankles and knees, the feet should be positioned completely flat, keeping the entire surface of the sole in contact with the ground, without standing on the tip of your toes or tilting the foot.
- TORQUE: When descending, it’s essential that we follow the knees outwards, a very common mistake, especially among beginners. Why is this so important?
For two reasons, the first is that this is the only way to work the hamstrings and glutes correctly, and the second is that this will increase the strength, tension and stability work.
If, on the other hand, we tend to bring our knees forward, our back end will become useless and work with no energy, unable to create tension and becoming weak and unstable.
Improve your muscle strength: Lunges
If there’s one exercise that’s essential for runners, it’s lunges.
With lunges, we can develop leg strength while also working on stabilising muscles, such as the gluteus medius and quadriceps, all through an exercise that mimics the natural movement of a running stride.
Kettlbells are great for this exercise
At the same time, in addition to improving our lower body muscle strength, we’ll be able to strengthen these areas and prevent the risks of injury.
But like any exercise, working on running form requires good technique. On the one hand, to maximise efficiency. And on the other hand, and this is no less important, to avoid possible pain or injuries that can result from incorrect technique or bad posture when running.
Correct lunge posture and execution
As with any exercise, our body posture plays a big role in the effectiveness of our work. It’s important we keep our body straight to ensure we develop a good posterior lunge and hamstring flexibility.
Maintaining this position, and once we’ve taken the full lunge forward, we’ll lower the front leg to a position of 90º (or slightly lower), so that the knee of the rear leg brushes the ground, all the while maintaining adequate stability and a small external rotation.
This is the optimal movement execution and the one we should reproduce with each repetition, alternating the work with both legs, while simulating and mimicking the natural running movement.
What to avoid
Correct technique is important to prevent us from executing weak lunges, which aren’t going to help us improve our muscle strength. It also prevents us from putting unnecessary loads or pressures on the knees and reinforcing the bad habits we’re trying to avoid.
As you can see, good running form requires more than simple going for a run every day.
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