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Business News/ Mint-lounge / Features/  Fitness | The route to getting strong

Fitness | The route to getting strong

Six exercises with a twist to make you run faster, better and longer without injuries

Mountain Climber. Photographs: Priyanka Parashar/MintPremium
Mountain Climber. Photographs: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

A few years back, before the running craze hit us, you’d be hard-pressed to find too many runners working on their strength and conditioning. Running itself is the way to fitness, they’d tell you. Now we know better. You can’t rely on lungs alone to get through a marathon, or an ultra. If you are just running to train for a race, all you are developing is lung power, and eventually, the rest of the body will not be able to keep up.

A daily dose of dynamic agility exercises to keep you supple; strength and core training to make you injury-proof; and nice, long stretches to ensure your muscles are not getting stiff, are essential. It is well known now that the secret to a strong run is a strong core—the muscles in your abdomen, back, and glutes—the area which keeps you upright, provides power, and is essential for endurance.

Here are six exercises that every serious runner must incorporate in his routine. These are based on foundational movements, and each has a twist that makes them harder to be done but effective. Each of these is tailored to target essential muscles for running.

Single-leg Dead Lift

Target: Glutes, core, piriformis

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Hold a medicine ball and stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Brace your left foot, bending the knee slightly, and bend forward from your hips while lifting your right leg behind you. Don’t round your back, and keep the back leg as straight as possible. Return to starting position. Do 10 repetitions with each leg.

Squat Press

Target: Glutes, quadriceps, core, shoulders, upper back, hamstrings

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Hold the medicine ball close to your chest, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down by pushing your hips back till the thighs are parallel to the floor. The knees should not go beyond your toes, and your back should not be rounded. Stand up strongly, and push the medicine ball up towards the ceiling. Squat back down while bringing the ball back towards your chest. Do 10 repetitions.

Mountain Climber

Target: Core, shoulders, arms, and for building stamina

Just holding the plank is fantastic for the core and engages every muscle in the body. The Mountain Climber takes it a few notches up.

Get into the push-up position, making sure your body is in one straight line from head to toe, your belly is pulled in and shoulders are in line with the elbows. Bring your right knee towards your right elbow, hold for a second, return to push-up position. Immediately lift your left knee towards your left elbow. Get into a nice rhythm of alternating the legs. Aim for a minute at first, and gradually add more time as you get stronger.

Single-leg Bridge

Target: Glutes, hamstrings, and underworked lower back muscles

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Lie face up, knees bent at 90 degrees, feet on the floor. Lift your hips and back off the floor until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Squeeze your glutes. Slowly extend one leg out while keeping the rest of the body stable in the position. Hold for 20 seconds, lower the leg, lower the rest of the body. Repeat with other leg. Do 10 repetitions with each leg.

Box Jump

Target: Quadriceps, hamstrings, core, and for endurance

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Squat down a little and immediately push off with both feet to jump on to the top of a box about a foot high. Land lightly on the balls of your feet, with equal weight on both legs, and immediately jump back down. The less time you spend on the ground between jumps, the more effective this exercise gets. Do this on a soft surface like grass, rubber floor, or mat. Do 20 jumps.

Stability Ball Pike

Target: Core, shoulders, and hamstrings

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Sumaya Dalmia is a wellness consultant, fitness expert, owner of Sumaya, a personal training studio in New Delhi, and a Mint columnist.

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Published: 07 Sep 2013, 12:05 AM IST
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