Category Archives for "workout"

Roll it Out! Full Body Ball Workout

Change up your gym routine by using various gym equipment such as dumbbells and bands. Use a Swiss ball for a full body work-out. Performing different types of exercises on the Swiss ball can help improve your range of motion, balance, and coordination. Engaging the core muscles while exercising on a large, unstable object such as an exercise ball is essential to performing the movement correctly and preventing injury. Try out the exercises below:

Push-Ups:

  1. Place both hands on a Swiss ball with your feet together to form a straight line from the top of your head to your toes.
  2. Engage the core and maintain a neutral spine. Keep your elbows close to your body and slowly lower your torso to the ball.
  3. Push up from the ball back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

Ab Roll-Outs:

  1. Place both of your forearms on a Swiss ball to form a 90 degree angle at the elbow.
  2. Keep feet and knees together on the floor.
  3. Engage the core muscles and maintain a neutral spine.
  4. Slowly roll forward by extending your arms and pushing the ball away from you. Make sure the knees and feet remain in contact with the floor.
  5. Slowly bring your body back to starting position by engaging the core muscles and pushing from the elbows up.
  6. Repeat for 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

Wall Squat:

  1. Wrap a closed loop resistance band around the thighs just above the knees. 
  2. Position yourself so that your low back is fully leaning up against a big exercise ball on the wall. Keep your posture nice and tall but don’t arch your low back when leaning upright against the Swiss ball. 
  3. Engage you inner core stabilizers by contracting your pelvic floor muscles and pulling your transverse abdominal muscles below your belly button inwards, hugging your spine. Remember to keep breathing. 
  4. Leaning your weight on the ball slide downwards doing a wall squat while you maintain static isometric pressure against the resistance bands. Keep your knees over your ankles and in alignment with your second toes. 
  5. Hold the wall squat for 10 seconds. Repeat this for ten repetitions doing three sets daily.

Hamstring Curl:

  1. Lie on the ground with the stability ball under your heels with your legs straight and your toes pointing up. Engage your inner core muscles below the belly button. 
  2. Extend your hips by squeezing your butt and lifting it off the ground. 
  3. Bring one knee towards your chest and hold it there.
  4. Bring the ball in towards you by flexing your other knee and then straightening it back to the start position. 
  5. Keep your inner core engaged the entire time. Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions, 3 times per week.

Reach Outs:

  1. Keep your posture tall and your inner core engaged by pulling the muscles below the belly button inwards toward the spine. 
  2. Wrap a resistance band around your upper back. With your belly on the ball stay on your hands and feet. 
  3. Secure the band on the floor with your opposite hand. Reach your index finger forward, with the thumb up towards the wall on a slight angle out, and then come back down.
  4. Repeat this 10 times for 3 sets on each side.  
  5. To progress the functional core strength, reach your index finger forward while extending your opposite leg and heel back at the same time. Keep the hips and pelvis level. Repeat this 10 times for 3 sets on each side.

Plank Walk-Outs:

  1. Start by pulling in your inner core by making your waistline skinnier below the belly button.
  2. Then roll out into a plank position on the ball in full control with a flat spine. 
  3. Lift one leg off of the ball with full control while keeping your hips level with each other. Try to keep your toes pointed to the floor as much as possible and lead with your heal. 
  4. Do 3 sets of 5 repetitions holding for 5 seconds on each side to start. 
  5. Then progress to 3 sets of 5-10 repetitions holding for 10 seconds when stronger.

Full Body TRX Work Out

Cull Body TRX Workout

The TRX System relies on suspension training equipment that allows individuals of varying fitness levels and abilities to perform a wide range of exercises. Body weight exercises, also known as total resistance exercises, on the TRX can help strengthen different muscle groups in many planes of motion in a safe and effective way. Try the following exercises below for a full body workout!

1) TRX Inverted Row:

Face toward the anchor of the TRX and grasp the handles with palms facing each other and arms fully extended. Position your feet slightly apart and in front of your body to begin in a leaned position. Ensure your body forms a straight line from head to toe, engage the core muscles, and pull your body towards the handles by keeping the elbows close to the torso. Then, slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position. Repeat for 3-4 sets of 10. Lower the handles or position your feet further in front for more lean to increase the difficulty.

Face away from the anchor of the TRX and grasp the handles with an overhand grip and full extend both arms. Position the feet slightly apart behind your body and lean forward so the body is at a slight diagonal. Lower your body towards the handles by bending the elbows. Then, push yourself up by contracting your chest and tricep muscles to the starting position. Repeat for 3-4 sets of 10.

Face away from the anchor of the TRX, place the top of your foot onto both TRX handles to form a 90 degree bend in the knee and stand tall on the other leg. Bring your body straight down to the ground to perform a lunge. Do not let the knee of the standing leg go past your foot when performing the lunge. Make sure the knee is in line with the foot at all times. Repeat for 3-4 sets of 10.

Face away from the anchor of the TRX, place the top of your foot onto both TRX handles to form a 90 degree bend in the knee and stand tall on the other leg. Bring your body straight down to the ground to perform a lunge. Do not let the knee of the standing leg go past your foot when performing the lunge. Make sure the knee is in line with the foot at all times. Repeat for 3-4 sets of 10.

Begin with your back flat on the ground and both heels on the TRX handles with your hands on either side of your body. Engage the core and lift your hips upward by activating your glute muscles. Ensure your ribs are not flaring by pulling them downward toward your belly button. Then, slowly lower yourself down to the starting position. Repeat for 3-4 sets for 10 reps.

Yoga for Better Sleep

If you’re anything like what seems like most of the North American population these days, chances are you have trouble falling asleep. We are very busy beings and sometimes when it’s time to end the day and crawl into bed to rest, our brains turn up the hyperdrive and do everything except relax. If this sounds like you, maybe you’d like to try a little yoga before bedtime. It may help you to relax and fall asleep sooner which means you’ll get a much needed longer and better quality sleep. Follow through the following sequence and see what you think. These poses were chosen because most can be done in bed so you can just curl right up when you’re done.

Breathing
Yoga has a strong foundation in breathing, or pranayama. Studies have also shown that taking deep, drawn out breaths helps to calm the mind and relax the body, both of which are essential pieces to getting a good night’s sleep. Start this sequence by concentrating your breathing. Take big, long, heavy drawn out breaths and try to concentrate your mind on your breathing rather than all of the other things that may come to cloud your mind at night time. For a more in depth section on breathing and for a few different breathing techniques, go here.

Standing Forward Fold
Still focusing on your breathing, stand up tall and lift your arms high up above you. Bend at the hip and slowly lower your head down to the ground while keep your back straight. Reach towards the ground with your hands and the crown of your head. You may or may not bend your knees. It’s really up to you and what feels comfortable. Remember, you are trying to relax! Hold for 10 nice long breaths.

Head to Knee
Seated now, bring one foot into the centre of your body with knee bent and bring one foot out to the side and straightened. You may also know this as the runner’s stretch. Bending again at the hip, slowly lean forward (again, to wherever is comfortable for you!) Hold for 10 long breaths on each side.

Child’s Pose
This might be one of the more common poses. It is generally a comfortable pose, especially when on your bed as the mattress will feel nice under your knees. However, if it is painful having your knees bent, please bring the hips up higher or bring the knees out wider, or opt to hold another pose for longer in it’s place. For child’s pose you will be on your knees, sitting back on your heels. Reach your arms and body forward, bending at the hip joint. Or keep your arms beside you as shown in the second photo. Hold for 10 long breaths at your point of comfort.

Legs Up the Wall
Bring your buttocks as close to the all as possible or up against your headboard if your bed is situated in the centre of your bedroom. Bring your legs up the wall with heels facing the ceiling. You may wish to prop your hips and low back up on a pillow or two as shown, or you may be more comfortable without. Hold for the usual 10 long breaths.
Lying Spinal Twist
This may be one of my favourites. Lying on your side, bring the top leg up and over the bottom leg, bending the knee. The bottom leg will stay straight or the knee may bend slightly. It is important that your top knee is connected to either the bed, or you may want to put a pillow or two under the knee. As long as it is connected to either a pillow or to the bed itself, you’re in good shape. Use your bottom hand to rest on you top knee, and open the top arm away from your top knee, opening the chest. Hold for 10 long breaths on each side.
Savasana
Arguably one of the best parts of yoga class is savasana. Lay down on your back with limbs open and straight. Close your eyes. Re-focus again on your breathing. Think about your body becoming heavy and sinking in to your mattress, getting ready for bed time. If you have a tough time willing your body to just relax on its own, try contracting one muscle group at a time for 2 seconds then relaxing it. Start from your trunk and work your way out to your fingers and toes. At this point, hopefully you’re feeling a little more calm. Get cozy in bed and drift off to dreamland.

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

No pain, no gain?

No pain, no gain at the gym, right? Right? Absolutely not! 

No Pain No Gain? NOPE

These days there seems to be an increase in the amount of fitness memes and “motivational” quotes that claim working through pain is something to be celebrated, something to strive for. Unfortunately, this is really not the case. If you are in pain during a workout, or a particular exercise, it is really best to stop what you’re doing immediately and re-evaluate.

Pain as protection
Pain is produced by the body as an evolutionary response to protect itself. For example, if you touch something too hot, your body automatically generates a reflex that pulls your hand away quickly. However, if you hold your hand there too long, pain is generated. This is your body’s way of telling you that you should stop what you’re doing and remove yourself from the painful stimulus. The same can be said of a workout or a particular exercise. If it is causing you pain, it is your body trying to tell you to stop or to lighten the load or maybe change a position to something more comfortable.

DOMS
DOMS stands for delayed onset muscle soreness. It happens hours after a particularly tough workout. If you have recently increased your load (e.g. added more weight to your lifts or run for a much longer distance than you’re used to), you may experience DOMS after your workout. This can be normal to an extent. You might feel a bit achey or tight. DOMS will generally recrease after some massage or foam rolling. However, if the pain persists, you may want to throw an extra rest day into your week to allow your body more time to recover.

Training for longevity and progress
You should not be in pain during a workout. If you are finding you are in pain more often than not, it is best to change that exercise that is the problem to something that your body finds more comfortable. If you push through the pain, you will likely end up with a more serious injury. If you get injured, you’re going to have to skip your workouts for much longer than you’d like to allow your body time to recover and to re-train movement patterns so you are no longer in pain. Ideally, you should feel like your muscles are working but not hurting. This means that you will be able to continue a long term training plan. Stopping a workout or exercise before pain becomes an injury will help you a lot more in the long run. It is also a good idea to come see your physiotherapist or massage therapist as soon as a pain becomes apparent. You’ll be able to work on a treatment plan to stop it before it becomes a problem!

Body awareness
Body awareness is something that isn’t always an evident part of a workout routine. However, knowing your body and when something feels “off” is a valuable skill. Try to notice how your body is feeling and make note of any specific movements or exercises that tend to trigger a painful feeling. This will make it easier to work on recovery and work past the pain, rather than through it. Your body can change from day to day, and some things mean you might have to take it a little easier some days. These reasons could include lack of sleep, a recent illness, and stress.

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, & IMS.

Why You Should Include Balance Training in Your Program

Balance training is something you may or may not have included in your warm-up, rehabiliation or workout program before. However, it is a major component of a well rounded and complete program. Generally, the different avenues for which you will train your body will fall into the category of strength, power, agility, flexibility and balance. If you have not considered including balance training into your normal routine, here are some reasons you may want to re-consider:

1. Improves proprioception. Proprioception is your brain’s awareness of where your body is in relation to itself (e.g. your knee relative to your ankle) and your body in relation to its environment (e.g. it will behave differently on a stable vs. an unstable surface. Essentially, balance training can help to improve the communication between your brain and your body (neuromuscular coordination). Training this connection can help your body to learn more complex movements in the future. So, if you are looking to learn a new sport skill, training a related balance skill can help you progress to that specific sport skill more quickly and more efficiently.
2. Increases stabilization. To have what one might consider “good” balance, you must be able to stabilize specific muscles or groups of muscles. For example, standing on one leg can actually be a very complex group of stabilizing muscle movements. To do this, the muscles around your ankle must be stable so as not to roll over, causing you to lose balance. The quads and hamstrings must work to stabilize the knee joint as well as the hip joint, and your core muscles (abdominals, back and glute muscles) work to stabilize your trunk and pelvis. So standing on one foot may seem like a simple movement, but there is actually a lot happening! As you work on increasing these stabilizer muscles through balance exercises, this stabilization can be transferable to better posture. The core, thigh, lower leg and ankle muscles need to work together during the standing on one foot exercise, and also need to be active while standing with good posture. Improving your posture can do wonders for some of the aches and pains that may be have developed while “slumping” over your computer, phone or other tech gadgets, pulling the body out of its natural alignment.

3. Fall prevention. As we age, falls may become more of a concern. Balance exercises can help combat this concern. Balance exercises themselves can be very gentle – anyone can do them! They are also easy to practice at home. Along with the above mentioned ways that balance can help to improve your functional movement, practicing balancing may mean you will be less likely to fall should you get tripped up as it can help you to regain your upright posture or correct yourself after a stumble. Practice makes perfect!
Balance Exercises:
Balance exercises can be as simple as practicing standing on one foot. While doing so, make sure you are focusing on stabilizing your core, thigh, lower leg and ankle muscles. Use your arms for balance or stand near a wall or counter so you can catch yourself if needed. Start for just a few seconds and gradually increase your time as you feel you’re getting better. 
To make this exercise more difficult, try standing on a pillow or other soft, uneven surface. Try wearing shoes or going barefoot and see which feels more difficult for you. For a really tough challenge, try squatting on one leg (make sure your knee or hip don’t collapse inward or outward!) 
Vestibular System:
If you are feeling like you are a pro at balance exercises, try doing them while shaking your head back and forth, looking at 4 alternating points of a room, or while closing your eyes (make sure you have something nearby to catch yourself on if you try closing your eyes!). Does it feel much more difficult? This is because part of balance system is within the inner ear (vestibular system), and part is visual. While moving your head, you are disrupting your vestibular system, making it more difficult for your brain to tell where the rest of your body is. While closing your eyes, you are taking away the visual reference your brain has to see where your body is in space. These systems work together and contribute to balance as well.
If you are interested in improving your balance and learning some cool new exercises to add to your routine, give us a call to make an appointment with one of our fantastic physiotherapists!

Cambie Village: 604-566-9716
Burnaby Heights: 604-298-4878
Web: www.insyncphysio.com


InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

How to Stay Accountable and Motivated Towards Your Goals

So it’s warming up in Vancouver and a few months have past since we decided on our new year’s resolutions for 2016. How are you doing on yours? Maybe you’re doing great (congratulations!), or maybe you could use a little extra motivation to stay or get back on track. This week, I’d like to discuss some goal-setting tactics to help you make the most of those resolutions or other goals that you are working toward.
I’ve included some further discussion on goal-setting later on in this post, but first I’d like to talk about a few ways to stay accountable and motivated in reaching for your goals.
1. Write it down. Make a contract with yourself. Write down your goal(s) and sign in. Post this paper somewhere you’ll see it each day. If you’re feeling creative, decorate it with pictures or magazine clippings that are relevant to your goals.
2. Tell somebody about it. Tell a good friend or spouse or parent or co-worker or anyone about your goal. Reach out to this person (or people!) when you’re not feeling motivated. If somebody else knows how important this goal is to you, they can give you a pep talk when you need it!
3. Make a goal-buddy. Maybe another person near and dear to you is looking to achieve the same goal. Now you can look forward to seeing that person and spending some time together working towards a mutual goal. Again, this is great for the pep talks when you’re needing them as well. 
4. Check out photos/videos/articles related to your goals. Sometimes it helps to have a pinterest board or follow an instagram account with people doing what you’re looking to achieve. For example, maybe you’re really interested in getting into cycling. Look for more information about cycling, or find some videos for beginners if you’re new to cycling. You can learn some tips and tricks which can help you past sticking points. These can also serve as inspiration or motivation on the days you’re just not feeling it (hey it happens to the best of us!)
5. Break your goal down into smaller goals. Maybe the idea of running a 10km race feels overwhelming. Think about smaller goals that can help you along your way. Maybe your first goal is to complete 3 shorter training runs in one week. Or, break your runs down into run-walk intervals so you have some time to slow down and catch your breath. By creating multiple smaller goals, you give yourself a sense of achievement after you complete each of these goals, rather than creating potential frustration if you do not meet your big picture or overall goal of running 10km right away.
6. Address troubles directly and quickly. If your goal is to run 10km, and you happen to fall victim to a sprained ankle, that is going to be frustrating. Instead of pushing through this, go see your physio or your massage therapist and have them take a look at it. The quicker you recover or find a solution, the quicker you can get back to working on your goals.
Next, let’s look at actually setting goals. Many use the mnemonic “SMART.”
1. S is for specific: Your goals need to be specific. Goals can start off as “I want to eat better,” but you’ll need to make some decisions as to what better means for you. For example, maybe eating better means that you want to add more vegetables to your daily diet. In this case, a more specific goal could be: “I want to add two more servings of vegetables to my diet each day.”

2. M is for measurable: We need to find a way to measure this. If we continue with the example above, we might measure this goal by creating a food diary, or using a food tracking app to count the servings of vegetables you are eating each day.

3. A is for attainable or adjustable: You should keep your goals within reason. Your goal cannot be “I want to fly like a bird” because you are likely not going to sprout the wings to be able to do this. Set your goals so they are challenging but so difficult that they are unreachable. Another good way to think of this is to keep your goals adjustable. This means that you have some wiggle room. For example, if you are training to run your very first 5km race, maybe you have set your goal to complete 3 training runs in each week leading up to your race. You will need to have some leeway if you fall ill and are unable to breathe properly to do those runs. Alternatively, maybe you are finding you are achieving your goal of 3 runs each week and finding it easier than you thought! In this case, adjusting your goal to keep challenging you is a great way to stay motivated. Maybe you decide to add a 4th day of sprints to your 3 more slowly-paced training runs.
4. R is for relevant: Any stepping stones or sub-goals need to be related to your overall or big picture goal. For example, if your goal is to run a 5km race, you wouldn’t necessarily add a swimming goal in pursuit or your running goal.
5. T is for time-bound: You should add a deadline or time frame to your goal. This can help keep you on track. For example, if you are training for that 5km race, sign up for that race in advance! This will give you a very specific deadline of when and how you’ll want to plan your training runs.
InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

7 Exercises to Maximize Hand, Wrist, and Forearm Strength

It is extremely important not to neglect working your forearms during your exercise routines. The hands, wrists, and forearms should be prioritized while warming up and while working out. Below, we recommend several stretches and essential exercises that will allow you to build strong and symmetric forearms.

The Benefits of Forearm and Wrist Exercises

So often, the biceps and triceps are the focal point of upper extremity development, while the forearms and wrists are given minimal attention. But the forearms and wrists allow us to perform the exercises that develop and maximize biceps, triceps, deltoid, chest, and back strength. Therefore, it is imperative that we devote time and energy to optimize the strength of our hands, wrists, and forearms.

7 Essential Forearm and Wrist Exercises

Here are seven essential tips to really help you to develop strong and symmetric wrists and forearms. We recommend doing these exercises three times per week.

  1. Flex and extend all fingers, while making a complete fist for 30 seconds. Next, open and close your fingers do 2 sets of each for a total of a minute.
  2. Flex your wrist and hold in maximum flex for 30 seconds with the elbow straight but not locked.
  3. Extend your wrist with the elbow straight for 30 seconds. Do 2 sets for a total of 2 minutes. These initial three stretching exercises will prepare you for the more complex and more intense weight-bearing exercises to optimize muscular development and the strength of the forearm.
  4. Seated Wrist Hammer Curls – In a seated position with your back straight, place your forearm on your thighs with your thumbs pointed upward. Use a 5-, 10-, or 20lb weight in a hammer position and lift it back and forth slowly for 3 sets of 20 repetitions. This will develop your brachioradialis muscle, which inserts at the distal aspect of the forearm at the wrist. Greater hypertrophy of this muscle will give more definition and balance of the forearm.
  5. Seated Wrist Straight Curls – This is to develop your flexor muscles. In a seated position, with your forearms on your thighs and palms facing upward, with a 5-, 10-, or even 20lb weight in hand, flex your wrist upward. Keep the forearms well placed against your thighs for greater stability and isolation of the wrist and forearm musculature. Be careful to place the wrist three to four inches away from the knee to allow the full range of motion. Do 3 sets of 20 repetitions.
  6. Seated Reverse Wrist Curls– This is to develop your extensor muscles and is also done in a seated position with your forearms on your thigh, palms facing downward, with the wrist three to four inches away from the knees. Grasp the weight and extend the wrist fully. Do this for 3 sets of 20 and be sure to not lift the elbows from the thighs when extending the wrists. Keep the palms down.
  7. Finger Curls – This is an easy exercise to perform and will develop finger and hand strength. Simply sit and hold a 5-, 10-, or 15lb in weight your hand. Turn your hand with the palm upward with the back of your wrist on your thigh. Allow the weight to roll down your fingers, and now curl your fingers back holding the weight securely. Remember to keep the back of your wrist against your thigh throughout the execution of the exercise. Use weight which you can effectively control and execute the exercises properly.

Ultimately, these seven exercises will help to maximize the strength and contours of your hand, wrist, and forearm. This increase in the overall strength of your upper extremities will also help to improve your hand and wrist dexterity, which in turn can improve competitive performance in athletics, gaming, and even in day-to-day tasks.

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

The Benefits of Balance Training

Most people don’t think about incorporating balance training into their fitness regime. This is because they don’t understand the benefits of adding it in. Balance is the ability to control the body’s position, either stationary (e.g. complex yoga pose) or whilst moving (e.g. ice skating). Balance is a key element of fitness, along with strength, cardiovascular exercise, and flexibility.

Balance training can be done using a stability ball, bosu ball, or board trainer. The overall benefits of balance training include improvements to overall fitness, sports performance, and injury prevention. Specific Benefits Include:

1. Body Awareness

Body awareness is the sense of how your own limbs are oriented in space, also referred to as proprioception. Balance training promotes body awareness which makes movement more seamless, with less likelihood of injury.

2. Co-ordination

Balance training requires all of your body to work together otherwise you might fall or stumble. By improving your co-ordination during balancing training, there should be an improvement to your co-ordination in everyday life.

3. Joint Stability

Balance training promotes stable knees, ankles, hips, and shoulders. This can prevent a whole array of injuries including sprained ankles and serious knee problems. These injuries are not uncommon in people who don’t do any balance training but do play a sport.

4. Reaction Time

If you slip or stumble when carrying out challenging balance exercises your body needs to re-balance immediately or you will fall. This can improve your reaction time as you learn to quickly correct a mistake, but not over-correct.

5. Strength

Balance training is challenging for your nervous system (brain and nerves). The nervous system recruits your muscle when lifting weights, so as your nervous system becomes more efficient it can recruit a higher percentage of your muscle for each lift. This means you are stronger and can lift more weight.

6. Power

Power is the ability to exert maximum muscular contraction instantly in an explosive burst of movement. The two components of power are strength and speed. With quicker reaction times and stronger muscles, your power ability should increase too.

7. Agility

Agility is defined as quick and nimble. It is the ability to change the direction of the body in an efficient and effective manner and to achieve this you require a combination of balance, speed, strength, and co-ordination. Therefore, the better your balance is, the more likely you are to have good agility.

8. Fun & Challenge

Adding some balance exercises into your fitness routine adds a new dimension, a dimension which is challenging but also fun too. It is motivating when you notice the improvement to the rest of your fitness regime by adding in balance training.

9. Long Term Health

Incorporating balance training into your routine helps to maintain or improve your balance, which is needed to prevent falls and fractures. As we get older our balance can deteriorate, something we want to avoid.

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

9 Tricks to Make it Easier to Run Faster

Looking to break a new personal record in your next race? Or just want to work your way up from a walk to a jog? Running faster during your workouts takes dedication, time, and the ability to break out of the norm—you just have to be willing to get a little uncomfortable. It’s not as bad as it sounds, though!

Although it may not make sense, all runners can actually benefit from doing workouts besides running. Exercises that address other performance components, including strength, speed, flexibility, coordination, and endurance.

Learn to pick up the speed and attack your running goals with these 9 drills and tips:

1. Get Lean

Leaning out your body fat will help pave the way for muscle gain, which helps propel you forward during a race. A body composition test can tell you the percentage of body fat you currently have, and can be done at most gyms or training facilities. From there, choose healthier foods and run and cross-train regularly—when you’re leaner, you run faster.

2. Mobility Training

Stretching your muscles pre- and post-workout is still debatable, but most experts agree that adding mobility to your weekly routine will help improve overall running performance. Repetitive motion will cause tightness, which can affect performance. Increasing mobility by foam rolling, doing yoga, and stretching, can allow for optimal sprint mechanics. Runners with impaired flexibility limit their potential to develop speed.

3. High Knees

High knees help improve running form and coordination. The movement of going up with your knees paired with fast propelling to the ground allows your foot to scoop and push off of the ground. Spring up with light feet into each high knee to add speed and swing your arms straightforward and fast to improve your running form.

4. Sprints

Sprint workouts alternate between low and high intensity speeds, helping to build endurance and increase your pace. Plus, there are so many sprint workouts to choose from that it’s fun to make it your own. Fartlek (a funny Swedish word that means “speed play”) workouts are an alternating series of jogging and sprints, that help prepare a runner for uneven paces throughout a race. They can be done at the beginning, middle, or end of a run at whatever speeds you choose. Longer sprint workouts can include 200m, 400m, or 800m repeats on a track, allowing yourself only a small window of recovery in between each sprint. This helps increase running stamina.

5. Ladder Drills

Ladder runs are an agility exercise to help increase the speed and balance of your feet. Using a long rope ladder placed along the ground, alternate your feet in and out of each ring while running as fast as you can through the length of ladder.

6. Resistance-harness Running

Don’t be scared by the name of this drill—they’re challenging, but fun! Resistance-harness running can help add power and intensity to your training regimen. They inherently load and place the body into positions that mimic ideal sprint mechanics and require increased endurance. It helps teach you to keep pushing and driving your feet forward and can help improve your running form. Resistance-harness running can be done with a partner, a weight, or a parachute.

7. Hill Repeats

Most race courses have at least one hill or gradual elevation that can often slow you down. Find a big hill at your local park and do a series of hill repeats at a pace slightly faster than your race pace. Running hills build muscle and strength that help power your knees, legs, butt, and core muscles as you push up the incline. And the best part about hills? You get to fly down the other side!

8. Increase Mileage

Once you’ve gotten a steady baseline built up, add distance little-by-little to improve endurance and stamina, which will help strengthen your body for faster, more powerful runs. Try to increase your overall weekly mileage with about one-third total miles executed at a higher intensity.

9. Shuttle Runs

Shuttle runs are similar to sprints, but focus on even shorter bouts of power running that range from 10m, 20m, and 30m—or even combinations of all three distances. Start by setting up markers on both sides of the distance you choose, then sprint from one to the next and then back again, leaning down and touching the markers on each side. Repeat these shuttle drills to improve acceleration, balance, speed, and anaerobic fitness.

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

6 Muscles Women Tend to Ignore

Pectoralis Major

A lot of women elect to skip the bench press partially in thanks to that stereotypical image of a top heavy, male, bulking bodybuilder. But it’s a fear unwarranted: on average, females don’t produce the testosterone required to bulk up quite that much. And working your chest can help ‘perk up’ what you already have! What’s not to love?

Okay, How do I use it?

Dumbbell bench press with properly proportioned weights for you – you should be able to maintain form from each press, but with minor difficulty. You want to be pushing your muscles.

Erector Spinae

This muscle is located in your lower back and helps keep your spine straight. Squats and planks rely a lot on lower back strength, especially to produce results.

Okay, how do I use it?

Lots and lots of practice of the bird dog. Another alternative is the waiter’s bow: resting your hands on the small of your back, bow at the waist like a waiter until you achieve 90 degrees. Bend slowly back up, and repeat. You should feel it stretching your hamstrings a little bit.

Hamstrings

A lot of women avoid working their hamstrings because they don’t want to make their thighs thicker. But such a large muscle is pretty important to avoiding knee injuries, avoiding needless ache when running and so many other basic exercises.

Okay, so how do I work it?

There are a lot of ways to work your hamstrings, but a good choice is by doing straight-legged donkey kicks. A lot of good ways to work them will involve moves that are straight-legged and bring your leg in line with or just behind your butt.

Transverse Abdominis

If you’re feeling the burn during an ab workout in your ab flexors, it could be your transverse abdominis that’s the sore culprit. This muscle is wrapped around your spine and plays a role in your core strength and stability.

Okay, how do I use it?

Just practice some planks or the pelvic tilt exercise. Laying face-up on the floor with your knees bent, tense your core and bend your pelvis slightly up, holding for ten seconds.

Triceps Brachii

Of the three parts of the tricep, one is commonly overlooked. Known as the “Long head”, this is the part of your triceps that run under your armpit and to your shoulder.

Okay, how do I use it?

The straight-arm triceps kickback is a good go-to. Working one arm at a time, get your dumbbell and let it hang from your hand. Keeping your arm straight, raise your hand until it’s just behind your torso. Pause, lower, repeat. You should feel it.

The Middle + Lower Trapezius

While the upper trapezius is more commonly involved in a woman’s workout, the other two parts of the upper back muscle are often ignored. These other two bands of muscle act differently from the upper in that they help to bring your arms down and back.

Okay, so how do I work it?

Preform Y and T lifts, pay attention and don’t shrug your shoulders.

Do you ignore any of these muscles?

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