Hip and Core Strength Training

Brought to us by Reem Jishi for QT2 Systems

As a personal trainer and running coach, when I prepare run training programs, strength training is always an integral part.  Strength training has many benefits including contributing to increased lean muscle mass, strength of connective tissue, bone density, resting metabolism and cardiovascular health.  Strength training can also improve balance, coordination and posture, boost energy levels and improve mood.  As runners, strength training, particularly exercises focused on lateral hip stability and rotational core strength, helps us attain and maintain proper running form, which in turn allows us to run longer and faster, and reduces the likelihood of injury.

Yet, strength sessions are often the first ones skipped.  But why?  Time is often the cited reason.   Overcome this hurdle by incorporating hip and rotational core strength focused exercises into your pre-run routine – and you will see the results this summer on the VT100 course.

Below is my suggested routine for hip and rotational core strength.  I recommend working up to 8-12 reps of each exercise, and aiming to incorporate this into your routine 2-3 days per week.

Resistance Band Routine – Side to Side and Forward and Back Monster Walks

Place a resistance band on your lower leg, just over your ankles.  Stand tall, soften your knees and widen your stance so that you feel some resistance from the band.  For the Side to Side Monster Walks, step to the right with your right foot and follow with your left, and then step left with your left foot and follow with your right.  For the Forward and Back Monster Walks, step forward with your right foot and then forward with your left foot.  Then step back with your right foot and then back with your left foot.  Reverse the order, the next time through so that you lead with your left foot.

Tip:  For all movements, take care to keep your toes facing forward and to maintain some resistance in the band.

Lateral Step Ups

Place a 8-15 inch step on your right side.  Standing tall, step sideways onto the step with your right foot and follow with your left.  Then return both feet to the floor by stepping down with your left foot and following with your right.  Switch sides.

Tip:  Start with a lower step height, and increase the height as your hips get stronger.  You can also add hand weights to increase the challenge.

Bicycles with Rotation

Lying on your back, bend your knees, lifting both feet off the ground.  Place both hands behind your head and lift your neck and shoulders off of the ground.  Extend your right leg out and rotate through your core to drive your right elbow to your left knee.  Alternate sides.

Tip:  Taking care to keep your neck in a neutral position.  Rotational movement is driven from the core.

Plank with Lateral Step Outs

Starting in a hand plank position, swing your right foot to the side and return to center.  Alternate sides.  Take care to maintain a strong body position.

Tip:  This is a controlled movement.  Keep your hips and core level throughout.

Side Plank with Leg Raises

Starting in a side plank position, raise your top leg up and return.  Take care to maintain a strong body position.  Your lower hip should not move.

Tip:  If you are having difficulty maintaining your hips stable, you can do this exercise in a (or modified side plank position – i.e., with your lower knee on the floor.

Marching Bridges

Starting on your back, bend your knees with your feet on the mat.  Knees and feet are hip width apart.  Push your hips up so that you are in bridge position, with the goal of forming a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.  Keeping your knees bent, raise one foot off the floor and bring your knee closer to your head and then return to the starting position.  Alternate sides.  Take care to keep your hips up.

Tip:  You can place your elbows on the floor and thumbs on your hip bones to help you maintain a stable hip position.

If you are looking for some additional run-focused strength routines, check out the QT2 Run Playlist on the QT2 Systems YouTube Channel.

Reem Jishi is the Program Director and a coach with QT2 Run.  She is a RRCA Coach and USA Triathlon Level 2 Coach, and a Certified Personal Trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine.  When Reem isn’t coaching athletes, you’ll like find her out running with her son.

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