Running is one of the best exercises you can do, but the same routine can get you into a rut. To get a true whole body workout, to engage your core and upper body muscles, and to add a lot of interest, incorporate the following 8 exercises into your running routine.
Begin and end your runs with a plank. First, get into pushup position, then balance on your forearms. Your elbows should be 90 degrees, beneath your shoulders, and your body should be straight from head to foot. Hold your plank for two minutes to work your core, shoulders, arms, and glutes.
If you cannot hold a plank for the recommended time, squeeze your abs and hold still for five more seconds as you begin to waver. A modified plank involves resting your knees on the ground, and advanced planks involve lifting up one leg or arm for 15 seconds during the exercise.
Burpees test your endurance and the strength of your arms, back, legs, and core. To perform a burpee, crouch and place your hands on the floor. Place your weight on your hands and quickly move your feet back to a pushup position. Do one pushup. Swing your feet back near your hands, then jump as high as you can. Return back to the crouching position, and repeat.
When you perform several of these quickly – say, 15 reps in 30 seconds – it has been scientifically proven that you can build up your muscle endurance.
Take a break during the middle of your run, do as many burpees as you can in 30 seconds, then continue running after a one-minute break.
Shadow boxing – throwing punches into the air – can be done while you run, as long as you can maintain the proper balance. (That makes it most ideal for running outside versus on a treadmill.) If you shadow box for 10 minutes during every run, you’ll build muscle tone in your arms.
The basic punch is the jab, where you keep your hand in a loose fist, then quickly extend your arm so that your knuckles are horizontal and have landed at an imaginary opponent’s face. Another punch is the uppercut, where you bring your fist up under your imaginary opponent’s chin. Keep your arm in a V-shape and rotate your upper body as you lift your arm. Finally, the hook is more of a sideways punch, where your elbow lifts out and you aim toward your imaginary opponent’s torso, swinging your upper body and arm together in one motion.
While running, do each type of punch for one minute – 30 seconds for one arm and 30 seconds for the other – or change your punches like a pro.
Arm circles work your shoulders, an important muscle group for lifting and pushing. As you’re running, perform 3 sets of arm circles by first lifting your arms so that they extend out to your sides and are parallel with the ground. Make forward circles with your arms for 30 seconds. Then, make backward circles for another 30 seconds. After a one minute rest, repeat your circles two more times.
Lateral raises are great if you can get your hands on a pair of lightweight dumbbells (1 to 5 kilograms). Even if you can easily lift heavier dumbbells, the weight could throw off your balance. While you’re running slightly slower than usual, hold a dumbbell in each hand and slowly extend your arms up and out to your sides until they are almost at shoulder height. Keep your elbows slightly bent. Slowly bring your hands back down and repeat 10 to 15 times. Put the dumbbells down and take a short rest for about 1 minute (while continuing to run), then do 2 more sets.
Arm lifts are great at toning your shoulders, forearms, and trapezius (the muscle between your neck and shoulders).
Since the most efficient runners take 180 steps per minute, you should increase your foot speed to place less stress on your muscles and joints per stride. High steps are great for increasing foot speed when you do them for one minute 3 times during a run.
High steps are just as they sound – raising your knee up to your belly button with each step. If performed at maximum foot speed, they can get your heart pumping. They will also engage your core and give your upper body more exercise, as your arms will have to pump and rotate to help you maintain balance and speed.
Swedish for “speed play”, a Fartlek involves changing your speed periodically. If you’re running outside, choose a landmark like a tree or intersection, and run quickly to reach the landmark. You could run at a full sprint or just a little bit faster than usual. When you reach your landmark, resume your normal pace. If you are running on a treadmill, give yourself a time interval of say, 30 seconds, or make yourself run faster during a certain song. When you run Fartleks 5 minutes apart, you’ll help yourself run faster by pushing your body a little bit harder.
Developed by a Japanese doctor who trained speed skaters, Tabata training pushes your body as hard as it can go. To end one of your shorter runs, do a series of eight intervals of high bursts of speed. Run as fast as you can for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat seven more times.
Research has shown that Tabata training can boost aerobic and anaerobic capacity, which suggest you will see an increases in speed and endurance after using this method.
Are you already beginning to imagine yourself doing these exercises the next time you run? Because they’re so convenient to do, you can easily incorporate them into your routine and will soon be stronger and faster.