Runners are adept at making excuses for why they can’t strength train: There’s either not enough time in the day, no gym access, or they’re afraid to put on bulk. All of these excuses are weak! In as little as 10–15 minutes, three to four times a week, you can become a stronger, more balanced athlete, improve your muscle tone and also decrease the likelihood of annoying overuse injuries.
The following four bodyweight exercises can be done anywhere, and the only equipment you’ll need to invest in is a stability ball. Perform this routine three to four times a week. Start with one to two sets and build up to three to four over the course of a month. Move through the exercises quickly but take two to three minutes of recovery between sets. The key is consistency: Pick the days you plan to strength train and stick to it. No excuses!
Photos: Oliver Baker
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your heels firmly planted on the floor. Put your hands straight out in front of you and begin lowering your body into a sitting position. Keep your back straight and push your weight into your heels as you reach a sitting position. Hold for three seconds before returning to a standing position. For an additional challenge, perform this exercise with a 10–15-pound dumbbell in each hand and keep your arms down by your side instead of putting them out in front of you.
Perform this exercise continuously for 60–90 seconds. Focus on completing each repetition with good form rather than trying to see how many you can do.
Stability Ball Hamstring Curls
Lie on your back with your knees bent and heels resting atop the stability ball. Lift your lower back off the ground and push the ball away from you with your feet, straightening your legs and keeping your core tight. Then bring the ball back toward you and return to a relaxed position.
Perform the sequence described above for 60–90 seconds, focusing on engaging both your core and your hamstrings. Move quickly, but don’t rush.
This exercise utilizes four positions: (1) Face down, forearms on the floor and shoulder-width apart; (2) Right side, forearm on the floor; (3) Left side, forearm on the floor; (4) Face up, hands on the floor behind you and shoulder-width apart. In each position, focus on keeping your core tight, hips aligned, butt tucked in and back straight. Focus on relaxed breathing as you hold each pose.
Begin by holding each pose for 30 seconds and work on building up to 60–90 seconds over a few weeks.
This exercise utilizes three positions: (1) Hands parallel and shoulder-width apart; (2) Hands staggered, right arm forward; (3) Hands staggered, left arm forward. In each position, keep your back straight, core tight and your butt tucked in as you lower yourself to the ground. Keep yourself at ground level for roughly one second before pushing yourself back up to the starting position. For an additional challenge, try doing this exercise with your hands atop a stability ball.
Begin by doing five pushups in each position and work on building up to 10–15 over the course of a few weeks.