Resistance Band Workout For Runners

Resistance Band Workout For Runners

Why Resistance Bands Are Great For Runners…..

If you’re a marathon runner, you really want to improve your strength and endurance so that you can avoid muscle injury. Resistance bands can be the perfect tool for you because they help to boost your power and strength in your calves, quads, and glutes. Strengthening these and other muscles with resistance bands will ultimately you run more efficiently and more powerfully. I like to use resistance bands to strengthen my core, hip flexors, and upper back. Strengthening all of these muscles will give you a strong base to build upon.

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small commission. Middleagemarathoner does not accept money for editorial gear reviews.

The following routine also helps joint flexibility and strengthening smaller muscle groups that surround your major muscles. Completing this 15 minute deep strength work will result in fewer injuries, which keeps you training consistently and ultimately helps you achieve your running goals.

Warning:

Note: Be sure to check with your doctor or another medical professional before doing any new strenuous exercises such as with resistance bands. These exercises may look easy, but when performed for the first time, you will be sore the next few days.

Many of the following exercises use hip circle bands. Check out the photos on this page for more information 

#1 Lateral band walks

Lateral band walks are excellent for runners because they target your not just your thighs, but also hips, and glutes. Completing this exercise regularly with a band will help stabilize your knees and hips and the smaller muscle groups supporting them. I strongly recommend including lateral band walks in your conditioning routines to help prevent injury while running.

  • For this exercise, begin with your feet together and a hip circle band above your knees.
  • Come down into a partial squat with your back straight and leaning slightly forward.
  • Move sideways, crab-style, with your arms out in front of you, and your chest lifted. Lead with your heel to then bring your feet together while keeping them parallel. Keep your knees bent slightly so that you remain in a partial squat the whole way across the room. Make sure your abs are tucked in.
  • Once you get to one side of the room, work your way back to the other side.

You can take a look at lateral band walks in action here:

#2 Dead bug with band

Completing this exercise will help to improve your posture and work your core and hip flexors. The dead bug with resistance bands also strengthens the stabilizing muscles of your lower back which is essential for running efficiently  When completing this exercise properly, extend one leg easily and fully while keeping your hips in a neutral position.

  • Get down onto your back and put your feet up in the air as if you were a dead bug. Make sure your lower back stays flat, and your pelvis is tucked in.
  • Wrap a mini band around your toes.
  • Now extend one leg out straight while bringing the knee of the other leg towards your chest. The closer your leg is to the floor, the more challenging this exercise will be.

Here’s what dead bug with band looks like in action:

#3 Banded sumo squat walks

Banded sumo squats work the muscles of your inner thighs, hamstrings, glutes, calves, quads, and hip flexors. Your core even gets a workout too! All of these lower body strength muscles are important for having more power for your running.

  • To perform banded sumo squat walks, wrap a hip circle resistance band around your thighs (just above your knees).
  • Stand up tall with your feet and knees turned slightly out. Your feet should be about 3 feet apart.
  • Sink into a sumo squat and then walk to the side, crab-style, while keeping the sumo stance the entire time.
  • You can clasp your hands in front of you. Ensure your back is straight and that your knees and feet stay in line with each other (at a diagonal compared to your trunk).

Below you can see how to perform sumo squats:

#4 Standing abs twist

Standing abs twists using resistance bands work your upper and lower abdominals, as well as your obliques. Strong obliques will help you retain stability as you run.

  • Attach a longer resistance band through a door anchor or around a pole at waist height, and hold the ends with both hands.
  • Stand with one side facing the door, your feet a bit wider than hip-distance apart. Be sure you’re far enough away from the door or pole so that the resistance band is taut.
  • Try not to move your lower body during this exercise. Move from your waist to grab both ends of the resistance band.
  • Pull the band in toward the center of your chest.
  • Next, turn at the waist away from the door, still holding the band close to your chest. You are, in effect, stretching the band away from the door. Keep your feet and hips in the starting position while you move.

Here’s what a standing abs twist looks like:

#5 Standing leg raises

Standing leg raises work your gluteus maximus, which are the muscles that control the flexion of your hip, the extension of your thigh, the slowing down of the swing action of your legs, and the flexion of your trunk.

  • Wrap a resistance band around your ankles.
  • Stand on one leg and send the other leg first out to the side, then out on a diagonal, and then straight out behind you. Keep your hips square when doing this exercise.
  • You can rest your hands on your hips to remember to keep them steady the whole time. The only movement should be in that banded leg.

Working at different angles activates your glutes in different positions depending on your leg’s angle with your hip.

Here’s what standing leg raises look like using a resistance band:

Resistance band takeaway

Once you try working out with resistance bands for your marathon training, you’ll love it. You’ll also see a real difference in your performance in the long term. Enjoy your resistance band exercises and watch your marathon times improve.

CLICK TO SEE MORE ARTICLES ON MARATHON TRAINING

CLICK TO FIND MORE INJURY PREVENTION STRATEGIES

CLICK HERE FOR TIPS TO STAY MOTIVATED

12 week half marathon training plan

12 week half marathon training plan

Free 12 Week Half Marathon Training Plan …. 

The half marathon is the most popular race in America.  Running 13.1 miles is not easy, but as long as you put in the training, it’s a relatively “friendly distance.” Beginners who have completed a 5K or 10K, think of the half marathon as the next step up. Many experienced runners like half marathons, because they are easier to train for and race 13.1 miles compared to a full marathon.  The purpose of this article is to provide a 12 week half marathon training plan that you can follow. If your ultimate goal is 26.2 miles, a 13.1 mile race offers a good starting point.  However, if completing a half marathon is your goal, I can assure you that crossing the finish line will give you a feeling of great accomplishment.

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small commission. Middleagemarathoner does not accept money for editorial gear reviews.

KEY POINTS

  • The goal of the following 12 week half marathon plan is to get you to the starting line fresh, fit and ready to race your best.
  • This plan is meant for beginners who have never run a half marathon. If you are an experienced runner and seeking to improve your time off your last race, consider training with me or hiring me to develop an affordable custom training plan.
  • You should consult a qualified and licensed medical professional prior to beginning or modifying any exercise program.
  • During the course of using this plan, you need to be willing to adjust and adapt to your individual circumstances. These include your goals, abilities, school, family life, illness, work, injury, etc.
  • This half marathon training plan is intended to be for general informational use. It is not intended to constitute any fitness and/or medical advice.
  • It is strongly suggested that you use personal judgment when participating in any training or exercise program.

I have prepared many beginner half-marathoners.  My step by step interactive plan increases the weekly mileage and is designed to challenge middle age athletes while also minimizing the risk of training too hard. The plan allows athletes to build endurance and ultimately taper properly.  Before starting to train for a half marathon, you need to possess a basic fitness level. But assuming no major problems, most healthy people can train themselves to complete a 13.1-mile race.  This half marathon training plan assumes you have the ability to run 3 – 4 miles without stopping, three to four times a week and have been doing so for the last 6 months. Basically, you need a fitness & mileage base before you start training for a half marathon. If that seems difficult, consider a shorter distance for your first race.

PACE CHART

Use the paces below when determining your pace for the various workouts within the training plan:

 

Goal Time1:452:002:152:302:45
Easy/Long Run Pace9:18/mile10:3211:3013:0014:12
Tempo Pace7:478:529:5711:0012:02
Long Interval Pace7:098:129:1710:1511:15
Short Interval Pace6:337:328:319:2510:20

Pace:

This plan includes some specific pacing for the workouts.  Use the above pacing charts for guidance, but feel free to adjust.  When I write out plans for athletes whom I coach, I like to include a range for the paces.  This helps the athlete so they don’t get too worried if they’re slightly off.

Since this free plan is designed for beginners, I recommend that runs designated as “easy” be completed at a comfortable / conversational pace. If you can’t do that, then you’re probably running too fast. (If you run using a heart rate monitors, your target zone should be between 65 and 75 percent of your maximum pulse rate.)

Distance:

The training schedule dictates workouts at distances, from 3 to 11 miles. Don’t worry about running precisely those distances, just try to come close.  If you’re longest run prior to the race is only 8 miles, you’ll likely struggle to finish the entire 13.1 miles.  Simply do your best to pick courses through the neighborhood or in some scenic bike paths or nature trails. In deciding where to train, talk to other runners. If you’re not certain of distances, there’s many GPS watches make measuring courses easy.

Long Runs:

The key to success with the half marathon is the long run.  Fortunately, you don’t have to complete any 20 milers.  However the 10 – 11 mile runs will help to build your endurance and get you closer to your goal of completing the half marathon. Pacing for these runs is supposed to be easy/conversational.  What’s most important on these runs is to listen to your body while completing them and back off if you feel like you are having any pain. As you can see in the plan, I will have you progressively increasing your long runs each weekend. So, over the 12 weeks, your longest run will increase from 3 to 11 miles. During the last 2 weeks prior to the race, you’ll taper (less mileage, similar intensity) and then you’ll race the full 13.1 miles. Even though the schedule below suggests doing your long runs on Saturdays, you can do easily complete them Sundays.


If you’re interested in joining me, I can put together either a custom training plan or I can personally coach you. Either program will be specific to your goals and athletic abilities. Just click on the links for details. 


Rest Recovery:

Rest is essential to your success.  In fact, remember this formula, stress+rest=success.    There’s a few harder/longer runs included in this plan.  You need to rest and go slow in between these harder runs to avoid injury and get the most benefit out of the harder workouts.  Also remember, to keep your hard days hard and easy days easy.  Even if you feel really good on a planned easy day, this doesn’t mean pick up the pace or go run some hills.

Speed Work:

These are workouts where you run at a faster pace. For beginners, you complete a few of these workouts.  Benefits of speed work include: physiological & physical. You are training your body to push past its comfort zone.  As you feel the burn and learn to push past it, you train your body to deal with fatigue.  For each of the speed workouts, you should start with 10 – 15 minutes warm-up at Easy pace + some strides.  Following speed workouts with 10 – 15 minutes of cool down/recovery jog.  Use the pace chart above or either of the calculators to determine proper pace.

Types of speed work:

Tempo Runs:

Runs where you warm up for 10 minutes with a slow jog, and then run at a faster pace than your normal. This pace should be something you can maintain for 20 minutes, and is meant to be somewhat uncomfortable. You then cool down for 10 or 15 minutes with a slow jog. Click on this link for more details about How Tempo Runs Will Help You Achieve Your Running Goals

Intervals:

These are a specific duration of time at higher effort, followed by an equal or slightly longer duration of recovery. After a warm up at an easy pace, you run hard for 2 minutes, then walk or jog slowly for 2-3 minutes to allow recovery. Then you repeat. Just like the above workouts, you end with a cool down.

Fartleks:

Swedish for “speed play.” These are less structured than interval workouts. The distance and duration of the higher intensity running varies, as well as the rest between. For example, you would decide, “I am going to run a pick-up at a quicker (not sprinting) pace I could maintain for an entire 5k all the way to that tree (or for 45 seconds). Then, after starting you reach the tree, you jog slowly until you’ve recovered and then you run another pick-up. Keep repeating as designated in the plant. As with the other speed workouts, you start and finish with a slower jog to warm up and cool down.

Hills:

A great way to build strength, endurance, improve running form and increase speed. There’s 2 x hill workouts included in this plan. If you can’t find a hill in your area, try stairs at a local high school football stadium. Click on this link for more details about hill training for full and half marathons.

Cross-Train:

I schedule cross training 1-2 times per week in this plan. This means you’re doing something other than running. Aerobic exercises work best. It could be swimming, cycling, hiking, cross-country skiing. The reason we cross train is to stress the body in a different way. This helps build muscle as well as give our body a break from the stress of running. Cross-training days should be considered easy days that allow you to recover from the running you do the rest of the week. I like cross training because it helps to reduce the risk of injury.

Conditioning:

This can also be referred to as strength training. It includes workouts that strengthen the legs, glutes, core, shoulders, hips and other muscles/joints used when running. There’s a few links to YouTube videos where I will show specific conditioning routines that I recommend. Most of the exercises are simple bodyweight exercises. A few use a BOSU Ball or resistance bands just for variety. Strength Training Workouts For Runners.

Glute & Hip Strengthening Exercises:

This video shows some exercises that are completed with a Resistance Bands. Bands may be available at your gym or you can purchase a variety of resistances in a pack through retailers like Resistance Bands.  If you don’t have access to a resistance bands, you can complete the exercises below (see photos and descriptions).

Racing:

These are a specific duration of time at higher effort, followed by an equal or slightly longer duration of recovery. After a warm up at an easy pace, you run hard for 2 minutes, then walk or jog slowly for 2-3 minutes to allow recovery. Then you repeat. Just like the above workouts, you end with a cool down.

Making Changes To The Schedule:

Don’t be afraid to adjust the workouts from day to day and week to week. The key is to be consistent with your training plant.

Strides:

Strides are a great way to practice good form & improve your speed by turning over your legs at a quick, but controlled pace.  Watch the video to see how strides should be performed. 

Stretching & Warm-Up:

Before all runs – complete Lunges & Leg Swings (click for video).

Dynamic or Rope stretching (click for video).  It’s important to complete rope stretching at least 3-4 times per week.

Foam Rolling:

Foam rolling should be completed at least 3-4 times per week.  Click for video

Nutrition & Sleep:

Both of these are essential to your success, yet in many cases they are overlooked by many athletes.  Lack of sleep can lead to a few negative side effects.  These include reducing your body’s ability to efficiently store carbs, convert fat to fuel and recover properly.

Remember Hard exercise + low carb diet = fatigue.  Fueling prior to and during exercise improves endurance performance.

12 Week Half Marathon Training Plan:

12 week half marathon training plan

CLICK TO SEE MORE ARTICLES ON MARATHON TRAINING

CLICK TO FIND MORE INJURY PREVENTION STRATEGIES

CLICK HERE FOR TIPS TO STAY MOTIVATED

Strength Training Workouts For Runners

Strength Training Workouts For Runners

MARATHON TRAINING

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small commission. Middleagemarathoner does not accept money for editorial gear reviews.

Strength training for runners is absolutely necessary to optimize performance. To back up this position, a recent Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research project surveyed 600+ runners of varying abilities.  Outsideonline.com summarized the findings. In this article I tell you why strength training is important for runners.  All of my training plans (regardless of the race distance), include structured resistance-training programs. Also included in this article, I provide images and video detailing an 8 exercise routine of different exercises that will strengthen legs, core, glutes and upper body.

For runners concerned that heavy lifting will build too much muscle mass, it’s important to realize that the ratio of time spent endurance running to time spent completing strength training makes it really hard to build any considerable mass. The Outsideonline article discusses and other research confirms that the physiological adaptations from running actually interfere with the physiological changes from strength training. 

From the scientific survey, the best runners reported that they regularly complete strength training and plyometric exercises. It was noted that the less accomplished runners interviewed reported less frequent time performing various strength exercises.  I was surprised that the survey noted no relationship between strength and conditioning training and injury history in the runners. According to the survey, the key predictor of injury was training volume. Essentially, the more you run, the more likely you are to get injured.  This makes sense, but I’ll still place my money on stronger runners of all abilities being less susceptible to injury. 

Outsideonline.com summarizes these latest research studies detailing how strength training improves running economy, maximal sprint speed, and race performance.  I think this is great news, especially because it reinforces my position that strength training for runners is very important and should be incorporated in every training plan.  Even better is the finding that the strength training for runners doesn’t need to be of the type that would transform runners into big, muscular athletes. Think of someone like Mo Farah (4 time Olympic medalist in 5/10k) or Galen Rupp. They’re both strong, but not bulky.

In summary, strength training for runners results in faster run speed due to improvements in anaerobic power, neuromuscular efficiency, running economy, and power development capabilities.

The authors of these studies recommend incorporating various types of strength training at different times of the year.  I refer to the details of this kind of periodized program of completing different blocks of training in another post. Essentially the goal is to introduce a new stimulus for your muscles once in a while, which will allow for the best development.  Just like you won’t get better by simply running 6 miles at the same pace, day after day, you need to vary your strength training routine.

Strength Training for Runners 101

 

If you’re new to strength training, I strongly recommend starting slow with mobility and bodyweight exercises.  In the offseason, it’s recommended to complete strength training workouts 2-3 times per week. During your race build up, you can reduce strength training to 1-2 times per week.

These days, it may not be possible to lift heavy weights, so your best bet is to conduct some challenging bodyweight exercises, such as those depicted in the following video.  These exercises are typically included as Level 2 or 3 in my marathon training plans.  This means that they’re more challenging than relatively easier (but important) exercises like bodyweight squats and lateral lunges.

Lastly, it’s best to concentrate on exercises that are functionally more important to running.  Without going into a technical breakdown of various exercises, I recommend a lot of core and single-leg variations, like single-leg split squats, jumping and lunge variations. These exercises are essential for the development of dynamic stability, which is important for increasing running economy.

Use the following video and images to incorporate bodyweight exercises into your training plan. If you use weights (especially heavier weights), reach out a certified strength and conditioning coach to advise you on proper and safe lifting techniques.

Here’s the exercises included in the following runner’s conditioning workout (modifications to make some of the exercises are provided when appropriate).

 

  • Jump Squat
  • Triangle Push-Ups
  • Bicycle Crunches
  • Forward Lunge
  • Leg Raises
  • Side planks with Twist
  • Single Leg Squat
  • Bear Crawls and Bear Crawls with twist

Remember to keep your hard days hard and easy days easy, so it’s best to perform the following conditioning work within 3 hours of your harder (long run, intervals, hills, etc) workouts.

FREE COACHING ADVICE – DIRECTLY TO YOUR INBOX
Exclusively for middle age athletes, helping to get you to the starting line fresh, fit & ready to achieve your goals.
Just Click Below & Provide Your E-Mail 
Middleagemarathoner Coaching List
 

CLICK FOR ARTICLES ON MARATHON TRAINING FOR BUSY PEOPLE

CLICK TO FIND MORE INJURY PREVENTION STRATEGIES

CLICK HERE FOR TIPS TO STAY MOTIVATED

[Product Review] Recover App – Injury Prevention For Middle Age Athletes

[Product Review] Recover App – Injury Prevention For Middle Age Athletes

CUSTOMIZED PRE-HAB & RECOVERY PROGRAMS

An app that actually helps runners live healthier lives

I recently stumbled upon a new and unique tool designed to address one of the biggest challenges faced by many runners. Injuries are problematic for runner’s of all ages, especially middle age athletes. The founders of Recover Athletics have just launched an app that provides customized recovery and pre-hab plans for runners of all abilities. I reached out to the team, including CEO, Nick Stewart and asked if I could take the app for a “test spin.”  

In this article, I provide a thorough review of the Recover App. 

Recover Athletics is the first performance recovery platform for endurance runners. Their goal is to help runners manage and proactively prevent overuse injuries. 

Their website consists of the gateway to primary product, the Recovery App, which I review below. They also have a blog with detailed articles focused on running and injury prevention. They host the Run Healthy Podcast.  The latest episode is an interview with 2020 Olympic Marathoner Qualifier, Molly Seidel (a Notre Dame Alum like myself). 

Once your profile is created, the app walks you through a series of questions to gather data on the extent of any current injuries or nagging pains. The app actually asks “What’s Sore Today.

 

The app also integrates with Strava or allows for manual input of weekly mileage, pace and duration of workouts. One of the goals of the app is to use AI to provide users with custom pre-hab or recovery plans. These routines are professionally developed by medical professionals from Massachusetts General Hospital.

  1. Next you can create a “Recovery” for your specific injury or weakness.
  2. Recoveries consist of set of 6-7 specific exercises that address your issue.
  3. The app contains 100+ exercises for runners
  4. The goal is to use your “Recovery” routines to recover and stay injury free
  5. You can set up a daily recovery reminder for a specific time and days of the week.

In my case, Plantar Fasciitis has been a problem for the last 10 months.  I’m at the back end of the injury, so I followed the prompts to create a Plantar Fascia Recovery.  The app generated a 6 exercise x 10 minute recovery that’s comprised of various stretches and strength exercises.

Below is a screenshot of my Plantar Fascia Recovery

The recovery begins when the user clicks on the start button. Next you simply complete the exercises as directed by the app.  Easy to follow directions are provided for each exercise. The videos are clear and the underlying benefits for runners of each exercise are discussed. 

Each time you sign on the app, it will connect with Strava to gather your latest workouts or if you don’t use Strava, you will be asked about your weekly mileage.  The app will ask you to rate the pain from your current injury. 

Based on the input provided, the app generates an “Insights” graph that monitors your training, recovery and soreness over time.  You can then break down trends of your recovery over a set period of time, as well as supplement your routines with stretches and other useful post-recovery tips. As you can see in the screenshot below, my mileage has been limited, but the soreness of my injury has declined over the last month.

Another app feature, if you allow, is occasional “push notifications” that appear on your phone. I’ve only seen a few, so you don’t think you will feel harassed (like some social media notifications).  One was notification of the Molly Seidel podcast.

The paid version of the app allows users to create additional recoveries.  This is useful if you had some weaknesses, such as hip or glutes that often contribute to injuries.  


If you need a proven periodized marathon training plan or affordable coaching where I use these principles of periodization training to prepare you for your next race? Train with me where I provide a CUSTOM EXPERIENCE based on your specific situation.


I also created a glute recovery that consists of a combination of 6 stretch & strength exercises.  Since glute weakness and hip instability are often root causes of many lower body injuries, this recovery is particularly beneficial.

Recovery App Studio

In my opinion, the best feature of the Recover app is with the Studio.  This is a collection of your personalized recovery routines, as well as specific strengthening & mobility routines. Similar to the recovery routines, the strengthening & mobility routines are very targeted and include detailed video instruction for a set of 6-7 stretches and strength exercises.  The mobility sequence includes:

  1. Marathoner’s recovery bible
  2. Cool down essentials
  3. Roll out and & get loose

The Strengthening sequence is very comprehensive, comprised of 14 different routines, including :

  1. Hardcore core
  2. It’s all in the hips
  3. We love resistance bands
  4. The marathon prepper
  5. Going couch to 5k
  6. Run for Health
  7. Runner’s daily strengthening

I completed a couple of the routines, including the “It’s all in the hips” and “Runner’s daily strengthening” routine.  I found the instructions are excellent and easy to follow. I really like the explanations of the benefits gained by completing each exercise.  Another nice feature is that each routine includes a modify option where you can see how to make the exercise easier or harder.  I’ve placed a few photos below of me working out using app.

As a coach, I think the app has a lot of value.  I coach people of varying abilities with different goals and challenges. If they are injured or feel some pain coming on, I can now use the app to suggest a specific recovery.  My plans include numerous conditioning/strength training routines which I can now modify and assign directly from the app. 

Overall Assessment: 5/5

Overall, I’m a big fan of the recover app and plan and recommend it. It’s informative and easy to use. It’s great for runners of all abilities and ages. Consistency in training and remaining injury free is essential if you want to reach your goals. This app allows runners to recover the wear and tear of long distance training.  Being able to customize your routines based on specific input allows you to minimize your risk of injury. 

I think that having access to a suite of professionally developed strengthening exercises and stretches that are targeted to specific parts of your body is a huge win.  The exercises included in each routine only take minutes to complete.

At this time, the Recover app is available for iOS in the Apple app store. There’s a free version which provides a single recovery.  The paid version ($2.99/month or $24.99/year) allows access to the entire suite of studio routines and multiple personalized routines.  With plans to add routines to the Studio throughout the year, the annual subscription is a good value.

FREE COACHING ADVICE – DIRECTLY TO YOUR INBOX
Exclusively for middle age athletes, helping to get you to the starting line fresh, fit & ready to achieve your goals.
Just Click Below & Provide Your E-Mail 
Middleagemarathoner Coaching List
 

CLICK TO SEE MORE ARTICLES ON MARATHON TRAINING

CLICK TO FIND MORE INJURY PREVENTION STRATEGIES

CLICK HERE FOR TIPS TO STAY MOTIVATED

Why Weak Glutes Are a Runner’s Biggest Enemy and How You Can Fix

Why Weak Glutes Are a Runner’s Biggest Enemy and How You Can Fix

INJURY PREVENTION / HEALTHY LIFESTYLE

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small commission. Middleagemarathoner does not accept money for editorial gear reviews.

Glutes are arguably the most important muscle group for runners. Unfortunately, they are also the most neglected in terms of maintenance and strength. Studies link glute weakness to achilles tendinitis, runner’s knee, iliotibial (IT) band syndrome and other common injuries.

If your glutes are so important and their weakness contributes to many injuries, why are they neglected.  Simply put, most athletes of all ages are unaware of the role their glutes play in their running performance. The goal of this article is to create a better awareness of the function of glutes for runners, what causes glute weakness or imbalance, how to identify if you have a problem and how to stretch & strengthen your glutes.

GLUTES 101

Your gluteus maximus is your butt, the two smaller, glute muscles (called glutes) are located on the side of your butt, near and slightly above your hip joint. When we run, the glutes’ job is to hold our pelvis level and steady. The gluteus maximus is responsible for hip extension, or raising your leg behind your thigh and knee behind you after pushing off with your foot. Good hip extension creates the energy of that leg swing into forward motion.

The problem is, without good hip extension you won’t have a powerful stride, which means your speed will be limited. The other key role of glutes for runners is providing stability for the pelvis and knees and keep our legs, pelvis and torso aligned. If you have strong glutes, side-to-side motion will be limited and you will be a more efficient runner because your energy is directed forward. Basically you can faster at the same effort level.

Also, when the glutes aren’t working properly, some of the impact forces are transmitted elsewhere down the legs. It’s common for many runners to have strong abs and back muscles but weak glutes.

How does this Glute dysfunction occur?

It’s common for the gluteal muscles to become inhibited which will prevent them from properly engaging and being able to perform their role.

Part of the problem is that glutes aren’t as active as other running muscles during routine activities. This leads to your hamstrings, quads, and calves becoming disproportionately stronger (also called an imbalance).


This imbalance limits the effectiveness of the glutes. The end result is that if we aren’t aware of this imbalance and subsequently correct it, typical movement and habits will place increased emphasis on the stronger muscle groups such as the Quads, rather than allowing the glutes to contribute properly within the running motion.

This kind of strength imbalance can cause injury problems over time as the body learns not to use the glutes as it tries to favor the stronger quads. If not properly identified, a glute weakness/imbalance typically doesn’t get corrected on it’s own because most runners don’t perform strength training exercises that isolate and strengthen the glutes. Exercises you can complete to fix this problem are listed below.

Additionally, excessive sitting can cause tight muscles, in particular the hip flexors, which will then inhibit the glutes, making them weak and ultimately pulling your pelvis out of alignment.

Bottomline, you need to work the smaller glutes to stay injury-free. The following video helps to explain the issue.

Glute Strength Tests

To see if you have weak glutes, you’ll need to perform the following glute strength tests. 

Stand with your hands over your head, palms together. Lift your right foot off the ground and balance. Watch the left side of your hips to see if it dips down. If it does, it’s a sign of glute weakness.

In these photos, I’ve inserted a YELLOW HORIZONTAL LINE, to help identify whether or not my hips are dipping.  You can have a friend take a photo while performing this test or you can complete the test while in front of a mirror to observe results yourself.

Glute strengthening and stretching exercises

For each exercise start with 10 reps the first week and then progress to 15 reps (switch legs), rest for 30 seconds and complete 3 total sets.

Tight hip flexors can inhibit the firing of your glutes. Complete this stretch after every workout (crossfit / conditioning or run)

Step forward and lower your back knee. Keep your knee over your ankle. Hold for 30 seconds on each side.

Kick Backs:

This exercise engages the middle-butt and low back.

Start on all “4s” by placing your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips.

Extend your right knee and hip to even your right leg with your torso. Be sure your foot is flexed and your neck is neutral by looking down towards the ground. Hold momentarily. Return to starting position.

Leg lifts:

This exercise is a variation of kick backs. While your elbows and right knee are on the ground, lift your left leg until it is parallel with the ground. This is your starting position. Lift your left leg up about 6-12 inches while keeping it straight and then return to your starting position.

Fire Hydrants:

This exercise strengthens the gluteus medius and minimus (smaller muscles in the butt).

Start on all “4s.” Next, make a 90 degree angle with your right leg and then lift your right leg up 6-12 inches while keeping your knee bent. Hold momentarily, then return to starting position.

Bridge:

Lie flat on the ground with your hands by your sides and your knees bent. Pushing up mainly with your heels, keep your back straight and raise your hips up off of the floor. Hold there at the top for a few seconds and then go back to where you started and repeat. For an added bonus, try this exercise with only one foot on the ground at a time!

FREE COACHING ADVICE – DIRECTLY TO YOUR INBOX
Exclusively for middle age athletes, helping to get you to the starting line fresh, fit & ready to achieve your goals.
Just Click Below & Provide Your E-Mail 
Middleagemarathoner Coaching List
 

Single Leg Squat:

Stand on your left leg. Lift your right out in front of you. Stand tall (don’t round your shoulders), and keep your left knee over your ankle as you lower down into a squat. Your hands can extend out for balance.

Modified Single Leg Squat:

Stand on edge of curb as shown in image. Raise right leg slightly and squat slightly with left leg (note how right foot is higher in 1st photo, side view). Start with 8-10 squats/leg and after completing this exercise 3 times/week for 2 weeks, increase to 15 squats/leg.

Glute & Hip Strengthening Exercises 

This video shows some exercises that are completed with a Resistance Bands. Bands may be available at your gym or you can purchase a variety of resistances in a pack through retailers like Resistance Bands.  If you don’t have access to a resistance bands, you can complete the exercises below (see photos and descriptions).

CLICK TO SEE MORE ARTICLES ON MARATHON TRAINING

CLICK TO FIND MORE INJURY PREVENTION STRATEGIES

CLICK HERE FOR TIPS TO STAY MOTIVATED