Happy Wednesday wanderers and wanderers! I decided to shake up my typical routine of a Wednesday morning run, followed by a wordless Wednesday blog post. You can’t spell routine without R-U-T, and Tuesdays’s 7 miler aggravated a residual blister from the Tacoma City Marathon.
Instead I decided to hit the gym this morning, as part of my attempt to return to a regular strength training regimen. Resistance training and core strengthening offer so many benefits for citizens across the athletic spectrum. It doesn’t matter if you prefer your marathons to feature Gus and running shoes, or Chardonnay and “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” regular resistance training protects bone density, improves cardiovascular health, and can even stave off Alzheimer’s disease! Arnold Schwarzenegger loves pumping iron why shouldn’t you?
I started out with a 50 stroke pyramid on the rowing machine to warm up and get my blood flowing. The last time I attempted indoor rowing I managed to drastically hurl myself off of the machine and onto the floor of the gym right in the middle of a backstroke. Luckily I avoided any spastic maritime antics on the indoor high-seas today; 3500 yards later I felt invigorated and ready to get my strength training on.
I should lead off this post with the disclaimer that I am not a personal trainer, nor am I qualified to give advice on any exercise program. I did a strength routine that I enjoyed today, so I thought I’d tell the internet about it and share some gym-selfies. I tried out a quick workout that mainly focused on my core and lower leg muscles. I sometimes hear people saying: “oh running (or skiing, or biking, or whatever) doesn’t work your core.” While those actions themselves may not directly target the core muscles, a strong core is VITAL for both power and stability in any of these undertakings.
The next move I did was brutal (in a good way): scorpions with feet elevated on a stability ball. I assumed a plank position with my upper body, and rested my shins on the ball. Then I brought opposite knee to opposite elbow. These are DIFFICULT. These are effective!
After all of that core work, I decided to work on my legs. Now, as a runner, skier, and bike-commuter I am blessed with strong legs. These thunder-thighs have taken me all sorts of interesting places. However, my disproportionately developed quads and humongous hamstrings are both a blessing and a curse. These strong muscles can provide a lot of power, yet it is the smaller muscles that are key for stability; I’ve been ignoring my smaller muscles (adductors, hip-flexors, psoas etc…) and I can get away with it. However, asking the big muscles to constantly compensate for the little muscles is a one way ticket to overuse injury city and no way to be a balanced athlete. It’s time to wake up all of the cast of characters in my legs.
I did some lunges to target my hip flexors and glutes. Some clamshells to work my adductors, which are key for lateral motions and stability . Where is Suzanne Somers when you need her? I clearly need to focus on these muscles more because this ersatz thigh-master move came very close to breaking my spirit. The last leg exercise I did was squats with a shoulder press. I was still craving a little more core work so I headed back to the mat and grabbed a stability ball again. I did some bridge-ups with my feet on the ball. I saved the hardest move for last, but I loved it so much. I saw this on the blog stuftmama (she’s awesome- a super-strong mother of twins who eats marathons for breakfast). The killer move that she turned me onto was: handstand push-ups with feet on a stability ball. Yowza.
After I struggled through that final set, I hopped on an exercise bike and spun at an easy pace for a few minutes to cool down. Then it was time for a quick shower, and off to work. I was craving a little protein pick-me-up afterwards, so I bought myself some milk. Normally I don’t consume too much dairy, but milk seemed like a super-appealing way to re-fuel this morning. I’m not one to argue with what my biceps are telling me, so I enjoyed my cow juice while I checked my emails and then got on with my day.
How was your Wednesday?
What are your favorite strength training moves? Seriously, tell me some good ones- I feel like I’m missing something from my routine!