Life gets busy. Between work, family, and a social life, it’s impressive to exercise on a consistent basis. Because of this, it’s paramount that your workouts, however short, are well-bounded. For those who want to close out their morning or evening run with a quick strength routine, we’ve got some moves for you. Curated by Aaptiv trainer Rochelle Moncourtois, this post-run strength routine takes no more than ten minutes to complete.
It’s all about leg power and core stability.
Strength training may seem counterintuitive, but it’s actually incredibly important for runners. Not only does it improve your stride and running power, but it enhances your coordination and helps to prevent injuries. Therefore, runners need to focus on exercises that target muscles that will keep them balanced and pushing ahead. “Stick to strength training exercises that will help build up your leg power and core stability,” advises Moncourtois. Your core is at the center of your body and helps each of your limbs stay in control, making it a key player in your running routine. Likewise, strong leg muscles have a big impact on your speed and stride.
As always, if something isn’t working for you, feel free to adjust. “Find a plan that best suits your needs,” says Moncourtois. “For example, if you have any limitations, make sure to modify!” If you’re unable to do one of the following moves, modify or replace it with one that works the same, or similar, muscles. What’s important is that you target your core and legs in a way that’s doable for you. Now, roll out your mat and keep reading for Moncourtois’ ideal post-run strength routine.
While this isn’t exactly a strength training move, it’s crucial to your post-run strength routine and what Moncourtois recommends you do first. When done correctly, foam rolling relieves tension in both your connective tissue and muscles, releasing lactic acid and, therefore, improving muscle recovery. Other lauded benefits are increased blood flow, maintained muscle length, increased range of motion, and reduced soreness.
If you run consistently, it’s ideal that, like stretching, you foam roll daily—especially after you’ve completed your run. Just be sure that you ease yourself into it. Being too aggressive from the start can actually cause more muscle aches and soreness. If you’re new to foam rolling, try a few beginner Aaptiv classes, such as “Full Body Foam Roll” and “Come To Life.”
Arguably the most popular core-targeting move, a plank can be done anywhere at practically any time. Adding it into your post-run routine is as easy as it gets. To start, bring yourself to the ground with your back facing up. From there, prop yourself up onto your elbows and toes. Keep your shoulders directly above your elbows and avoid hunching them upward. Instead, draw them back and down. Keep your feet a few inches apart—not together, but not quite shoulder-length. Now that you’re in plank position, engage your core in order to keep your body in a straight line. Don’t let your hips rise above or fall below the rest of you. Squeeze your legs for added support. Rather than looking ahead, keep your eyes down and chin pointed towards your body. Hold this position for 45 seconds, gradually adding on more time as you get stronger.
Another bodyweight classic, push-ups are mostly known to improve arm strength. While that’s definitely true, like planks, they also target your core strength and stability. To perform, bring yourself up to a plank position, only this time you’re going to prop yourself up onto your hands instead of your elbows. Make sure that your hands are only slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Now, engage your glutes and core while making sure that your body forms a straight line. Your arms should be straight and support your weight. You can look slightly ahead or straight down if that helps you concentrate. Engage your abs, bend your arms, and lower yourself until your elbows form a 90-degree angle. Once you reach there, hold for a brief moment before straightening your arms and pushing yourself back to starting position.
Another core targeting move, Russian twists can be done with no equipment or a small weight. Begin by sitting on the ground with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and arms clasped (or grasping a weight) in front of your chest. From there, lift your legs a few inches off the ground. You’ll need to squeeze your core in order to stay stable. Now, rotate your body left to right, as if you want each elbow to touch the ground. Keep your back straight and rotate by hinging your hips. Between each rotation, pause at the top for a moment. The pattern should go twist left, pause in the middle, twist right, pause in the middle, twist left, and so forth.
Now for some leg action. Stand on your mat with your feet shoulder-width apart. You want to bend like you’re doing a traditional squat—knees facing forward, abs and legs engaged. Once you reach a full squat, squeeze your core and jump straight up, arms rising above your head. As you jump, be sure to keep your feet at the same width you started at. When you land from your jump, lower yourself back into a squatting position. Try to land as quietly as you can, which requires more core and leg control. That’s one rep, and now you’re back at the starting position. Repeat by jumping up and out of the squat, then land and jump back into it.
Lateral Side Jumps
The next three moves are explosive, energetic, and mimic motions that you do in every run. Because of this, it’s important to include them in your routine, building up the muscles you’ll use in later runs and familiarizing your body with the movements. To do a lateral side jump, start off standing with your feet hip-width apart. Bend into a shallow squat, then hop explosively off both feet and jump to the left. Land as softly as you can, then repeat and move to the right.
Just like lateral side jumps, start your knee highs by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Place your hands palms down at your belly button. In a motion similar to jogging in place, drive your left knee up to meet the bottom of your left hand. Once that leg meets the ground, drive your right leg up to meet your right hand. Throughout this move, keep yourself on the balls of your feet, making a light hopping motion. For some extra core work, squeeze your abs every time that your knee meets your hand.
A move popular with many runners, butt kickers are often seen done before or after a race. Likewise, they work seamlessly into your post-run strength routine. To perform, start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Like knee highs, think of doing a motion similar to jogging in place, only instead of bringing your foot a few inches up after hitting the floor, you want to bring it up to kick your butt. In a hop-like motion, bring your left heel up off the floor and drive it towards your glutes, opposite hand rising towards your shoulder, just like running arms. Repeat on the other side.
Squeeze all of these moves or a few of them in after your runs to build the leg and core muscles that will help propel you forward.