2 Arm Toning Exercises That Will Take You 10 minutes
I'm really trying to focus on getting my arm strength up since I know it's key to stronger running (and well, I've also always REALLY wanted toned arms), but I don't always have a full 30 minutes to commit to a lot of different exercises so this is where these two exercises come in! I do 3 sets of 12-15 and am done in 10 minutes. I like to use a medium weight (think like a 5-10 Ib weight- I'm currently using an 8 Ib) where I'm able to feel fatigued after the 3rd set, but able to get through the first two with not TOO much trouble.
1. Bench Press on Bosu Ball- Lie with your upper back on the bosu ball, hips are up so they are aligned with your knees and torso (don't let them sag), and your neck is supported on the ball as well. Free weights are in each hand, knuckles are pointing towards your legs in a goal-post fashion (see photo). Keeping your core strong and engaged and only utilizing your triceps, push weights up to the sky and extend out of your elbows. Once extending, use control and come back to your starting position. Try to use a 1, 2, extend, 1, 2, begin tempo to slow-down your exercise and reap all those great toning benefits! Work from 2 sets of 10 up to 3 sets of 15. Once you reach 3 full sets of 15 are easy, it'll be time to up your weight by 2 or 3 Ibs and start back down at the 2 sets of 10 and work up!
2. Hug Presses on the Bosu Ball. I'm actually totally blanking on what these are actually called, so I just made-up a new name for them! You'll start in the same starting position as your bench press (upper back/neck supported, hips up, knees are a 90 degree angle, core tight), but your arms will begin stretched out in-line with your torso and knuckles will be pointing in towards your center (see below photo). I think it kinda looks like you're getting ready to hug someone (so that's where the name came from), you'll then push your knuckles in towards each other utilizing your Traps/Triceps until they touch and using control from your biceps/deltoids come back to your starting position. Use the same tempo of 1, 2, in, 1, 2, begin to control your form and reap all those crazy benefits of lifting lighter weights! Work from 2 sets of 10 up to 3 sets of 15. Once you reach 3 full sets of 15 are easy, it'll be time to up your weight by 2 or 3 Ibs and start back down at the 2 sets of 10 and work up!
3 Favorite Full-Body Strengtheners to Keep Injuries at Bay
1. single-leg deadlifts- start on one leg (if you are newer to strength training, begin this exercise without a weight and work your weight up to 2 Ib, 5 Ib, then 10 Ibs) with free-leg in a 90 degree angle and drop down into a capital T position (as above photo demonstrates; I also think of this as warrior 3 pose) with weights in hands or hands just go to the floor with no weights- resume starting position. This is one rep. Begin with 2 sets of 10 reps (on each side) and work up to 3 sets of 10-15 reps
2. Squats with free-weight overhead press- begin with small weights (2-3 Ibs and work up to 10-12 Ibs) in hands by your side (knuckles face forward) and feet shoulder-width apart. Perform a bicep curl with weights, rotate knuckles towards your belly-button, keep arms and core stable (seen in above photo) as you squat down (be careful knees don't go past your toes), as your rise back up press right hand up to the sky and rotate left. As you bring your right hand back to shoulder starting position (as seen in above photo), raise left hand up to the sky and rotate right. Come out of the exercise the same way you came in- knuckles rotate back to face forward (where you are looking) and bicep extension to resume starting position with hands by your sides. Repeat exercise beginning with 2 sets of 8-10 and up to 3 sets of 10-15.
3. Lateral Band Side Squats- Begin with a band around your ankles (as seen in above photo). Green is the easiest, Red is middle, and Dark Blue/Navy is typically very strong. Start small (green) and work up from there (red then navy). Begin with feet hip-distance apart, knees slightly bent (10-15 degrees) and begin walking sideways. Be sure to keep your hip-distance and slight knee-bend form. It's also helpful to keep your hips and shoulders pointed forwards, while keeping core engaged the entire time. Begin with 2 sets of 10 step-squats to the right & then 2 sets of 10 step-squats to the left (work up to 3 sets of 20 in each direction).
This 3-step workout will work various muscles and keep you in running form! Remember, it's important to listen to your body and start small and go from there. I am not a licensed professional and you should always consult a doctor before beginning a new training regime. I've found that continuing to mix-up my strength training routines every 2 months keeps injuries at bay and helps me from mentally burning out!
Running & Stretching!
Stretching after we run is definitely as important as any training run, recovery, or interval sprints! I've put together a quick 5-10 minute stretching routine that I like to do after I run to improve my recovery time, overall fitness, and decrease my odds to becoming injured! Remember that it's important to always consult a physician prior to beginning any fitness routine and that I not certified trainer, so it's best to reach out to someone who is certified if you have questions!
Post-workout 5-10 minute stretch routine
- Calf Stretch- Start by standing facing a wall or something stable to hold onto, feet are parallel then step one foot back about 5-6 inches and slowly begin to bend the knee of the foot that's behind you and utilize the wall to lean into with both hands. Hold this stretch (the farther back your foot goes & deeper the knee bend increases the stretch) for 15-20 seconds and then switch sides
- Quad Stretch- Stay by the same wall (or bar) and begin with feet parallel and while keeping knees together and hips pointed straight towards your wall, grasp your right foot with your right hand (right knee bends) and pull your foot towards your butt. It is best to keep your posture straight (like a string is attached to your head) and think about using your core as you do this stretch. Hold for 15-20 seconds and then switch sides
- Glute Figure-4 Stretch- Find a fixed object that you can hold onto (I like a bar, railing, or counter-top), start with hips, knees, and toes pointing towards your object. While holding with both hands onto your fixed object, pick up your right foot and cross it ontop of (above) your left kneecap. In yoga- they call this a figure 4 stretch (you can also do the same move on the ground just be careful of your posture). Slowly begin to bend your left knee (watch that your knee doesn't go past your toes) and lean both hips evenly back until you feel a slight stretch (never go to the point where it's painful). Hold for 20-25 seconds and then switch sides.
- Runners Lunge- Begin by starting in a push-up position on the floor. While in your full push-up position (elbows are straight), bring your right foot diagonally across your body so your right foot is directly behind your left hand and your right knee is directly behind your right hand. Sit down (if possible- or use a towel, pillow, sweatshirt to create a flat surface under your right hip) and try to maintain contact with the ground with both butt bones as you begin to lean forwards in your lunge. Going down lower with your torso into the stretch and trying to keep your right leg in a 90 degree angle will make the stretch deeper (if you want). Try to hold for 30 seconds and then switch sides.
- Toe Touch- Last, but most certainly not least! Standing on your feet begin by reaching both hands up to the sky (deep breath in) and then as your release your breath go down and touch your toes (keep a slight knee bend in both knees to protect them). Keep your breath regular and try to hold this stretch from 25-35 seconds.
It's always a great idea to follow-up your stretch session (cool-down) with some foam rolling (my favorite post-run recovery tool is the Roll Recovery R8- find one here) and/or legs up the wall for a few minutes. Perfect time to catch a quick nap or check out what's new on social media! Happy running & recovering!
Benefits of Stair Sprints
Does anyone else add in some stair running at the end of their workouts? This is one of my favorite ways to add in a little cross-training to the end of a run and it's nice to mix it up (especially love it in the summer when it's warm out and I can plan my run around where my stair work-out will happen).
Running (or even walking) up stairs & down helps build up our cardiovascular system, improves your foot turn-over speed, builds glute & knee strength, as well as helps you focus more on your core form while moving your feet quickly (isn't that what we do when we run?!?).
After you are sufficiently warmed-up (ideally after some other type of cardio exercise i.e. ellipitical, running, cycling, etc.), find a set of stairs (stadium stairs at a local middle/high school or like me- a rodeo!) of 15-30 steps and run up & down them (equals one set) for 5-10 times. Start on the lower end (with just 5) and work up towards 10. Try to incorporate this from one to three times a week and see your overall fitness improve!
20-30 minute full-body strength
This circuit includes many of my favorite exercises and can easily be adapted between easy to hard depending upon what you are looking for. Please remember that I am not a certified trainer and that you should consult a professional before attempting a new training regime!
- 10 deadlifts with either 8 Ib to 12 Ib weights or 35 Ib free-standing barbell
- 10 squats w/ free-hand weights or barbell
- 20-30 crunches on ball w/ rotation of left & right (use arms/ shoulders to get full exercise experience)
- 10 burpees with a push-up (can also use bosu ball for more of a challenge)
- 10-12 V-ups with 8-12 Ib medicine ball rotation (left & right)= 1 set
- 2 minute Plank holds (1 minute regular plank; 30 seconds on each side)
Repeat the circuit for 2-3 full rotations! and BOOM you're stronger already