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Regular, even uncompromising, running sessions are definitely the best way to progress. But when the COVID-19 pandemic keeps you indoors, muscle-building and/or muscle strengthening exercises have been more important for improving your running performance.
VO2max – the maximum volume of oxygen that the body can use during aerobic action - is a determining factor in a runner's performance. But energy-efficient motion is also a key element, particularly for endurance running, such as marathons.
All the scientific studies carried out over the last decade have shown that a trained runner can reduce the energy used by following a muscle-building programme for several months.
Explanation: stronger foot strikes reduce ground contact time and oxygen consumption at a certain speed.
Some are tempted to use brief, intense movements. But if we entertain the results of certain studies, that would be an error. It is more important to work with weights between 30% and 50% of the maximum possible in long series. Doing so teaches your muscles to tolerate and manage targeted fatigue they are not used to.
The intensity of muscle-building exercise :
It's logical and preferable to aim for real progress (as you do for weekly running distances) and to stay in tune with your body. It's true, stiffness and aches are disagreeable but they are indications that you've trained well (at least at the beginning of a muscle-building cycle). But beware of stiffness and aches that last more than 48 hours. They can be signs of excessive weight or repetition of exercises.
About gaining muscle :
Runners – particularly women – shy away from muscle-building for fear of putting on weight. Good news: a workout with suitable exercises does not necessarily lead to muscle enlargement. Your body shape and your weight does not necessarily change.
As well as high-intensity circuits using body weight which combine cardiovascular effort and muscle-strengthening, it is interesting to do targeted workouts using muscle-building machines.
Always warm up thoroughly (for example, 20-30 minutes of running on a treadmill or cycling on an exercise bike). And start with light weights to avoid muscle or tendon damage.
1. Box Jump
Explosive jumps can train your leg and core muscles to “turn on” faster during a run.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, at a comfortable distance from the bench. Bend your knees and push your hips back while swinging your arms behind you. Push your feet off the floor explosively to propel yourself onto the bench. Land softly in a partial squat, with your back flat and chest up.
2. Chest Press
Incorporate this arm workout into your regular training routine once or twice a week to improve your form and boost your power out on the roads and trails.
Run the band under the bench and attach each end with the handle of the dumbbell. Lie on the bench and press the dumbbells towards the ceiling. Remember not to let the elbows flare out.
3. Romanian deadlift
Deadlifts develop propulsive force in the glutes and hip extensors, which will help your push-off as you increase your pace.
Step on to the middle of the band firmly and grab both sides of the band. Chest up and keep your back straight the whole time. Bend your knees slightly and drive your hips backward until you feel your glutes and hamstring a bit tense. Forcefully contract your glutes and drive them forward again.
A versatile dumbbell for bodybuilding movements and functional exercises (press-up-type exercises).
The Training Band not only builds muscle strength but also helps you stretch.