Yes, running is hard enough without tacking on extra exercises. But if you want to be a better runner (i.e., make every stride feel less laborious), these moves can help by improving your strength, stability, and power, says Debora Warner, founder of Mile High Run Club, a fitness studio dedicated to running in New York City.
Perform each of the following exercises continuously for 30 seconds before moving on to the next one in quick succession. Repeat the series two to three times per week after your regular runs.
1. Box Jumps
Stand behind a treadmill (or a low box) with your feet about hips-width apart and your toes facing the machine. Bend your knees as you drive both arms behind you, then bring them forward to generate momentum as you jump both feet up to belt. Land with bent knees and immediately extend the legs to come up to standing position. Step down one foot at a time to complete one rep.
2. Kettlebell Reverse Lunges
Hold one 9- to 13-pound kettlebell or dumbbell in your right hand—the imbalance challenges your stability—and bring the weight to your shoulder with your palm facing in. Keeping your shoulders stacked over your hips, take a large step backward with your left foot and bend both knees 90 degrees to lower into a reverse lunge. Next, press into your right heel and extend your right leg as you drive your left knee up in front of you. Step your left foot back into reverse lunge position to complete one rep. Continue for 30 seconds and then repeat on the opposite side, this time holding the weight near your left shoulder and lunging backward with the right foot.
3. Single-Leg Forearm Planks
Do a forearm plank with your elbows beneath your shoulders, palms together, shoulders away from your ears, and body in a straight line between the top of your head and your heels. From this position, engage your quads and squeeze your butt as you lift one foot off the ground, keeping the raised leg straight. Hold for 30 seconds, then raise the opposite leg and hold for 30 more seconds.
4. Single-Leg Jump Steps
Stand behind a treadmill (or low box) with your feet about hips-width apart and your toes facing the machine. Step up with your right foot. Jump straight up in the air and reverse your feet so you land with your left foot elevated and your right foot on the floor. Continue to alternate.
5. Squat Jumps
Stand with the treadmill directly behind you with your feet about hips-width apart. Bend your knees to sit back into a deep squat, and gently sit down on the band. From this position, immediately press into your heels to stand, rolling onto the balls of your feet as you extend your legs and explode straight up into a jump. Land on the soles of your feet with soft knees to complete one rep.
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