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  1. Strength Training Exercises For Runners

    Strength Training Exercises For Runners

    Why Do You Need To Strength Train?

    As a runner you probably put the miles in each week but why should you also build up your strength? Basically it will help to prevent injury, may also improve your efficiency as a runner and also improve your running economy.

    Leg Strength Exercises

    For runners it is important to focus on single leg exercises. This is because as a runner you only have one foot on the ground at any given time. So single leg exercises best reflect what you will be doing when running. But also it will help you to build two equally strong legs. The truth is that when you exercise on two legs the stronger leg will do more of the work. When you are starting single leg exercises try to start with your weaker leg. Exercises to focus on include:

    The Single Leg Deadlift

    Holding a kettlebell in one hand, stand on the leg on the same side and bend at the hip extending your free leg behind you

    Pistol squat

    Lift one foot off the floor, put your arms in front of you. Lower yourself into a squat so that your lifted leg is straight out in front of you.

    Single Leg Press

    This is an exercise machine exercise. Plant one foot on the platform and fully extend the knee then return to the starting position

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    Exercises With Barbells

    These exercises help to build strength in the hips, quads, hamstrings and glutes. All critical muscle groups for runners. The hips in particular are very important when running as they will help to create a consistent cadence. Exercises here include:

    The Deadlift

    With feet shoulder width apart bend at the hip, so you grip the bar at shoulder width. Lower your hips and flex the knees until your shins contact the bar. Keeping your chest up move the weight upwards, as you pass the knees pull the bar back and then lower the bar.

    Front Squat

    Hold the barbell just below shoulder height, your feet should be shoulder width apart, descend into the squat then drive back up through your heels.

    Back Squat

    Supporting the barbell on the top of the traps, keep your back straight and head up descend then drive the weight back upwards.


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    Plyometric Exercises

    You may also think of plyometric as jump training. Essentially plyometric is all about jumping and or hopping but crucial to it is the understanding that a concentric muscle contraction (take off phase) is much stronger if it immediately follows an eccentric contraction (landing phase) of the same muscle. Plyometric exercises are all about explosive actions and they are really good at building power. Why is that important in running? Well because it will make you a more efficient runner particularly building efficient strides. Exercises that can be good for runners include:

    Jump Squat

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  2. Looking After Your Core Muscles

    Looking After Your Core Muscles

    For many a strong core is all about having a flat tummy but in reality it’s much more important than that. It’s crucial in many every day movements and research sug

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  3. What’s Best - Cable Machines Or Free Weights?

    What’s Best - Cable Machines Or Free Weights?

    This is a question we, and most personal trainers, frequently get asked. Which is better for you, using a cable machine or using free weights? Both are useful in helping to create muscle strength and definition, but in different ways.

    If you know what you are doing in the gym and have had experience with both, you can in fact opt to use both as they are complementary. In fact as you get more expeirenced, you can use them in synergy with each other as they can work the muscles slightly differently. Here we reflect on the pros and cons of both types of weights.

    What Are Cable Machines?

    You will probably be familiar with cable machines that are found in most gyms. They are typically a steel framed structure standing two meters high and three metres wide with weight stacks located on both sides and adjustable pulleys that you can set to any height. Cables run through the pulley and connect to the weight stacks. So you may hear them referred to as the "Cable Crossover"; the "DAP"; or the "Dual Adjustable Pulley". 

    The Benefits Of Cable Machines?

    Cable machines are great if you are working out alone or if you are new to weight training. This is because they help you work your muscles in a very controlled way. They effectively help you with your form and technique as the machine requires you to move in a certain way. This helps prevent

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  4. Upper Body Toning Exercises with the Pilates Ring

    Upper Body Toning Exercises with the Pilates Ring

    The following set of Pilates ring exercises are associated with toning the upper body. The Pilates ring provides moderate resistance when you squeeze the sides together. Perfect to add to your existing matwork or even reformer work if you want to push yourself on with your workouts.

    Exercises that tone the arms, chest, and shoulders are created through different positions. Pilates ring exercises are done with movement that is integrated with the whole body, not with simply isolated muscles. Due to this, you will need your full presence in a strong posture, with your legs and abdominal muscles engaged and connected to the upper body.

    Using Your Pilates Ring

    Throughout these Pilates ring exercises you want the movement to connect all the way to your core. Use control in both the squeeze and the release as you will be doing pulses with the ring. As you do so, feel the width of your shoulders, chest and back; ultimately aiming to that you grow taller with each pulse.

    When you lift the ring, your shoulders need to remain down, you should feel that your shoulder blades slide down your back. As well as this, your shoulders won't move forward or pull far back which will let you strengthen your shoulders in the most stable position.

    Basic Pilates Ring Exercise

    Begin with good posture with your shoulders stable

    With your Pilates ring in hand, stand straight and tall by adjusting your posture.

    Your legs can be together and rotated slightly outward at the top of the thigh so that the heels of your feet are together and make a V shape, which is the Pilates stance and a good opportunity to activate the inner thighs. You can also have the legs parallel and hip distance apart because this is a stable position that lets us train in a stance that is viable in daily life.

    Pull your abs in whilst dropping your tailbone towards the floor. Keep your pelvis steady by imagining it as being like a bowl; you don't want anything to spill out to the front or the back. At the same time, relax your shoulders and send energy out through the top of your head.

    Specific Ring Exercises

    In the next 3 exercises, breather normally as you move the ring from low to high. Your arms will be straight, but don't lock your elbows. As the ring moves up, the exercise pattern reflects the Pilates fundamental move which is arms over.

    Low Ring

    Your arms are straight with your palms are flat against the handles of the ring.

    Pulse the ring 8 - 10 times, controlling the release.

    Use your chest muscles but keep your chest open.

    Think of using your arms in a balanced way so that they remain activated all the way around.

    Middle Ring

    As you bring the ring up to chest height, slide your shoulder blades down your back.

    Diagonal Ring

    Similar to the previous exercise, keep your shoulders down and your shoulder blades moving down your back as you raise the ring to a high diagonal with the ring remaining visible in your peripheral vision.

    Pulse the ring 8 - 10 times

    You should feel this in your chest muscles.

    Check your posture before you move on. Remember that your shoulder should be down with your shoulder blades settled on your back. Pull up through centre and take a few deep breaths.

    The Halo Ring

    Keep your shoulders relaxed as you bring the ring overhead so that it finishes flat to the ceiling. Do not let your ribs pop forward even though it is tempting.

    Bend your

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  5. How to Set Up Your Home Pilates Workout Space

    How to Set Up Your Home Pilates Workout Space

     

    It's not necessary to have a lot of room to do home Pilates workouts, all that is really needed is a clear space on the floor big enough to put

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  6. How to Achieve Great Posture

    How to Achieve Great Posture

    Posture is the position in which you hold your body while standing, sitting or lying down.  Optimal posture occurs when our body is in a state of muscular and skeletal balance that protects the body against injury and allows us to move with maximum efficiency.

    Achieving optimal posture involves standing, walking, sitting and lying in positions where the least strain is incurred during movement or weight-bearing activities.

    The Benefits of Good Posture

    Maintaining and achieving good posture confers a host of benefits:

    • Muscles are being used efficiently, reducing fatigue
    • With bones and joints in the correct alignment,
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  7. Body Pump - More Than Just Weights to Music

    Body Pump - More Than Just Weights to Music

    As fitness studies continues to provide new information, exercise programs are developed as a result of this research. Aerobic exercise came about consequently due to the research which showed the benefits of increasing the heart rate to cardiovascular health overall.

    This is also the case with the BodyPump resistance weight training group program. Designed specifically to increase muscle tone and strength, along with other added benefits, without adding the bulk that many people do not wish to gain.

    What is the Body Pump Program?

    A simple explanation of the BodyPump program is as follows:

    It consists of 60-minute resistance exercise using a barbell, however rather than focusing on heavy weights, the emphasis is on low-weight barbells that are used in a more rapid exercise. This is because the idea behind the program is to “exhaust” your muscles so that they strength and tone but do not add bulk.

    You will complete 5-6 specific exercises but with so many reps of each one, ending up having completed approximately 800 reps in one 60-minute session; as the weights used are minimal, these are not horrible to achieve, and thus the program can become addictive. The 6 exercises consist of; squat, chest press, deadrow, clean and press, lunge, and reverse curl.

    All exercises are done to music in the BodyPump program and therefore plays a key factor because there must be a rhythm. The original program which was developed by Les Mills has specific music tracks for all levels or progress. As you improve and gain confidence, there are music tracks that require more rapid movement that you are able to move up to.

    Whilst it is usually taught in a group class which has the benefit of

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  8. The Best 5 Full Body Exercises

    The Best 5 Full Body Exercises

    By full body, we mean exercises that require you to use many muscles and joints at the same time. We think the following five fit this bill and should give you

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  9. Core Stability - Part 2

    Core Stability - Part 2

    How Do You Monitor Core Stability? It is widely believed that core stability work is important as it reduces injury and improves performance but what scientific evidence is there to support this theory?

    A study by Chaudhari carried out in 2011 with a group of 75 healthy professional baseball pitchers, used a measurement device which allowed the observation to be made that professional baseball pitchers with poor core stability did not perform as well as those with better lumbopelvic control. Thereby providing some scientific evidence to support this belief.

    In order to achieve maximum athletic performance, control and strength of the body's back, abdominal and hip muscles is essential. However the question remains, how can we tell if core stability is being maintained?

    The measurement device used in the Chaudhari study provides audible feedback to alert the user when the body

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  10. Core Stability - Part 1

    Core Stability - Part 1

    Core stability training is carried out with the aim to effectively recruit the trunk musculature followed by learning how to control the position of the lumbar spine during dynamic movements.

    The Muscles

    The deep trunk muscles are essential to the active support of the lumbar spine. The co-contraction of these muscles produce forces through the "thoracolumbar fascia" and the "intra-abdominal pressure" mechanism. This stabilises the lumbar spine, as a result the Para spinal and MF muscles act directly to resist the forces which act on the lumbar spine.

    The deep trunk muscles consist of:

    • Transversus Abdominis (TA)
    • Multifidus (MF)
    • Internal Oblique (IO)
    • Para spinal
    • Pelvic floor

    It is important how these deep-trunk muscles are recruited, not just their recruitment. In 1997, Hodges and Richardson’s research showed that the co-contraction of the TA and MF muscles occurred before any movement of the limbs. This suggests that these muscles anticipate dynamic forces which may act on the lumbar spine, therefore allowing stabilisation of the area prior to any movement. Hodges and Richardson further showed the timing of co-ordination of these muscles was very significant.

    Training

    Once the key muscles and how they act have been identified, the next step is to establish how these muscles can be trained most effectively. Similarly with any type of strength and conditioning training, the training procedure for improving the function of the deep-trunk muscles must be specific to the task that is required. To achieve this, the type of contraction, muscle fibre type and the anatomical position required must be taken into account.

    By definition, the deep-trunk muscles act as "stabilisers" and so are not involved in producing movements, instead these muscles involve static, or isometric, contractions. Moreover, they must act as stabilisers continuously throughout activities that take place every day as well as sport activities and fitness, and due to this require effective endurance of low-level forces. Although these muscles do not need to be particularly strong, they must be correctly coordinated and capable of working continuously.

    In addition to this, stabiliser muscles should act by holding the lumbar spine in the neutral position; this is the correct alignment of the pelvis which allows the natural 'S' curve of the spine to take place. These characteristics create the base for the following deep-trunk muscle training program.

    The Basics of Core Stability Training

    Core-stability training begins with learning to co-contract the MF and TA muscles effectively because this has been identified as a key role to the lumbar-support mechanism.

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