Doing nothing but running may be a runner’s sweaty dream, but it can leave athletes wanting when it comes to full-body fitness and core strength. Here is a collection of gadgets certain to inspire a few minutes for strength building either before or after a run. Crunches optional.
1. TRX Home
The highly portable and customizable system uses suspension and your body weight to improve strength, balance and flexibility. Extremely versatile, it can work many areas of your body. Popular with those who don't like to be tied to a gym, the kit comes with a how-to booklet, a carry bag, a door anchor and a portable anchoring strap so you can use the system wherever you go.
2. Duo Exercise Wheel
This is an updated version of a rather old-school fitness tool. (I remember my bodybuilding grandfather quietly cranking out sets of smooth-wheeled reps on one of these.) My arm- and ab-quaking sessions were decidedly short and whiney in comparison, but the strengthening benefit for arms, shoulders, abs and back is worth the sweaty effort.
3. Championship Long Handle Jump Rope
Yes, a jump rope. Who knew the popular grade-school playground activity could also benefit your running? Sure, jumping rope uses mainly your legs, but shoulders, chest, back and triceps also get in on the toning action. Bonus: the fast footwork required for a high intensity, high heart rate jump session can boost run cadence.
4. Howler Primal Bell
Swing your way to a solid core with this special-edition 18-pound, iron, angry howler monkey kettlebell. Kettlebells are generally measured in poods, an old Russian measurement, with one pood equaling 36 pounds. This half-pood model is a good, multi-purpose weight and has a slightly larger handle than standard models for improved grip strength.
5. Bosu Balance Trainer
With a Bosu ball (and the included exercise DVDs) you are on your way to improved tone, balance and, ultimately, running agility. Flat and hard on one side, curved and soft on the other, you can use the Bosu ball for standing exercises, pushups and countless other drills. Squats become much more interesting when done while standing on an unstable surface.
6. Power Systems 48” Premium Versa-Tube Resistance Tube
Lightweight and portable, Power Systems resistance bands are a versatile, go-anywhere strength-building tool that can work just about any part of the body. The easy-grip bands are also colored (women usually start with the green or red tube, while men begin with the red or blue) to indicate resistance.