Today, I’m going to share with you one of the most challenging workout routines you can ever do as a runner.
And what’s the best part about it?
Well, you don’t need any equipments.
You don’t need to go to a gym.
You don’t need to hire a personal trainer.
In fact, the workout routine I’m sharing with you today will have you stay in one place, and requires from you no movement at all.
Image Credit – Urban Shake via Flickr
Enter the World of the Isometric Training.
I had my first encounter with isometric training while doing the famous P90X workout program and I used to hate it. As a runner, I rather be in the outdoor, moving, instead of staying home and holding what seemed to be an endless pose.
But isometric are powerful, and hopefully by the end of this post, you will start doing them.
Isometric Training – The Simple Definition
Isometric training is a type of static strength training in which the muscle length or the joint angle do not change during contraction. So during these exercises, the muscles will tense up, but don’t actually move.
In the fitness circles, these exercises are generally used by physical therapist, Pilates trainers, and weight lifters. And as a runner, you can also benefit a lot by adding them to your strength training routine.
Isometric Training Benefits
Here are some of the benefits of isometric training.
Simple to use. For starters, Isometric training is one of the most convenient workout routines in the world. All you need is your body, a mat (optional), and off you go.
Iso exercises take minimal time. If you are short on time, then you can still do isometrics without sacrificing a lot. You don’t need any equipment. You don’t need a gym. Just a little bit of space.
Boost strength. This type of training engages almost all of the motor units, so it’s ideal for increasing strength and endurance at the same time.
Isometric training builds strength by holding intense static positions where no movement is allowed anywhere on the body, helping you increase strength by holding the muscular contraction against the resistance of your own bodyweight.
Image Credit – Squats via Flickr
Better flexibility. Iso training will not only make you stronger, but also improve your flexibility as well. This can both help improve performance and prevent running injury.
Low impact. I grew a fondness for iso exercises because they are safe on the joints and can efficiently build strength and endurance without putting too much stress on the body, which is why I usually do them during my recovery days (or weeks). They are also useful for fixing muscle imbalances in key problem areas, like the quads, hips, calves and back.
Top 6 Isometric Exercises For Runners
Here is the exact isometric training routine you need to improve you running and prevent injury.
Hold each move for one to two minutes, before you move into the next exercise. After you are done with the circuit, repeat it again for two to three times, depending, of course, on your fitness level and how much time you have on hand.
1. Isometric Calf Raises
Strong calves are key for efficient and pain-free running. Good news is isometric calf raises strengthen the larger, outermost muscle that is in charge the size and shape of your calves.
Start by standing tall on the edge of a step or on a sturdy box, with your feet shoulder width apart and knees straight.
Next, rise up onto your toes and try to balance your bodyweight on the balls of your feet. If you have any balance issues here, then feel free to grab a chair or a wall if necessary.
Hold the position for one full minute then slowly lower your heels to starting position.
Remember these are not your typical calf raises, so hold the pose for as long as you can with good form. Feel the burn, welcome it, and hold it for longer as you get stronger and fitter.
2. Isometric Leg Extensions
This move mainly targets the quadriceps—muscles at the front of your thighs—as well as the hips flexors. Strong hip flexor and quads have been shown by study to reduce the risks of runner’s knee and other overuse injuries.
Sit on a chair with your tailbone firmly against the back of the chair, hands resting on the chair with both feet flat on the floor.
Next, while gazing ahead and keeping the back straight, slowly extend your right leg out in front of you, engage your quads, and reach your toes toward your shin as much as you can without losing form.
Hold the position for 30 seconds to one minute, then lower down to starting position and change sides.
3. Isometric Wall Chair
This beast of an exercise boosts endurance and strength in the quads, glutes, and calves—all major running muscles. So it’s really a lower body exercise per excellence. The isometric wall chair can also help you improve flexibility and mobility in your lower body.
Stand with your upper back and back of your head against the wall. Keep your feet about two feet out in front of you.
Next, while holding your arms across your chest, lower yourself in a slow and controlled manner down by bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
Hold this position for one full minute, then slowly press back up to starting position.
If this pose was too easy, you can always up the ante by alternating between lifting your right foot for a few seconds then your left.
4. Split Squat
If you have weak glutes and quads, then you are running a high risk of runner knee and a plethora of other overuse injuries. So ward off the risks by doing split squats.
This iso move focuses mainly on the glutes and quads, and will also help you boost hip flexor mobility and improve overall lower body flexibility.
Assume an athletic stance with back straight and core engaged, then step into a lunge position , making sure your toes are pointing straight ahead.
Next, make the pose more challenging by sinking down until your front knee is bent to a 90 degrees and your back knee nearly touches the floor. This is the split squat position.
Hold for 30 seconds to one full minute, then push yourself back up to starting position, then switch sides.
5. Forearm Plank
This is a great move to increase strength and endurance in your core muscles and shoulders.
Assume a plank position with the forearms on a well padded mat, back straight, and body forming a straight line.
Next, tighten your abs, squeeze your glutes, and hold the pose for one to two minute to complete one set.
6. Squat Hold
An ideal move for increasing endurance and strength in all major running muscles—think glutes, quads and calves. Holding the squat can also help you improve flexibility and mobility in your lower body.
Start by standing with your feet about shoulder-width apart, core activated and back straight.
Next, bend your knees and squat down so your thighs are parallel to the floor. Imagine that you are sitting on imaginary chair, and hold the pose for one to two minutes.
Now the ball is in your cour. Just make sure to do the above isometric workout routine at least once a week. That’s enough training to help you improve your athletic performance and become the best runner you can be.
In the meantime thank you for reading my post.
Feel free to leave your comments and questions below.
Featured Image Credit – Alleh Lindquest via Flickr