Posts Tagged ‘cross training’

Strength training is an important part of any fitness program, as it increases lean muscle mass, boosts metabolism and helps prevents diseases like osteoporosis. The American College of Sports Medicine advises doing eight to 10 strength training exercises with eight to 12 reps of each exercise twice a week for good health. Building your muscle strength can help you run faster and longer and improve your running form while reducing your chances of injuries.

Side planks strengthen your core and arm muscles.

To get going on a strength training program, check out these tips for runners:

  • Strength train after your runs or in separate workout sessions to prevent exhausting your muscles before a run. Lifting weights before running can increase your chances of injury and muscle fatigue.
  • Allow yourself at least a day of rest between strength training sessions so your muscles can rebuild and recover. You can still run between strength training sessions but do not lift weights.
  • Do exercises that target all of your major muscle groups, including your arms, shoulders, chest, core, gluteals and legs. Strength training is your chance to balance out your body and get stronger in areas that you don’t normally work running, so make the most of it and target all major areas of your body.
  • Use free weights, weight machines or your own body weight for resistance. You can use dumbbells for exercises such as squats, lunges, triceps extensions and bicep curls, and use your own body weight for resistance by doing push-ups, planks and crunches. For the chest press, use free weights or a weight machine.
  • Track your weightlifting progress. Set goals and record your results after each strength training workout.
  • Be flexible and adjust your routine to suit changing goals, workout plateaus or unexpected results.
  • Try circuit training to rev up your metabolism and reach higher levels of endurance and strength. Circuit training involves alternating high-intensity running with strength training exercises such as pushups, crunches, planks and squats.

As an arm strength-challenged runner, I can attest to the common runner’s plague of feeling strong on bottom and weak on top. Cross training can help you balance that out, and get in a good workout and have fun in the process. Pole dancing is one form of cross training that is not only fun and exciting but also offers an effective strength, flexibility and cardio workout all rolled into one.

Pole dancing can vary depending on where you take a class and the individual teacher’s focus, but in general pole fitness involves doing dance routines that incorporate floor work, chair work and pole spins and poses. Learning to maneuver your body around a pole can be challenging, awkward and thrilling, but well-worth the effort. Pole dancing helps strengthen your arm and shoulder muscles, as well as your core muscles (a common problem area for runners and non-runners alike). In fact, pole dancing helped tone my arms and abs so well that I now pole dance — with yoga and pilates warm-ups — a few times a week instead of doing a weightlifting routine.

If you want to try out pole fitness for a cross training workout, check out your city’s pole dance studios and talk to the instructors and visit the studios to get an idea of what to expect and where you would feel comfortable.

Caution: Pole dancing can be addictive. After signing up to try it a year ago, I have since trained and gotten certified to be an instructor, so expect more pole fitness articles to come. (In the meantime, you can read more about my adventures in pole dancing here.)

Me taking a spin at Divine Body Fitness, my second home.