5 Must-do Exercises for Beginner Runners

Some people might say I’m crazy but I seriously love running. It sets up my day, drags me out of bed, and gives me a boost of endorphins that allow me to drive all the way to work with very few road rage incidents. I use it as a way to catch up weekly with friends, meet new people, and keep myself relatively healthy. It’s easy, basically free, and accessible to almost anybody.

There are a myriad of benefits to running! It’s a safe and effective way to improve cardiovascular health, bone density, muscular endurance, boost mood, and improve energy. With these few exercises, some smart programming, and a few expert tips you too can enjoy all of these benefits – physical, mental and social.

But beware, all of the exercises in the world won’t make up for doing too much too soon. An estimated 60% of running related injuries are linked to increasing mileage too quickly. Get a running plan in place that is tailored to your needs and slowly increase your weekly load in 10% increments. If you’re new to running altogether, start by increasing your daily walking before beginning to add small bouts of running.

Every individual has their own unique injury history, strengths, weaknesses, and running goals. Therefore it may be helpful to speak to the team at Peninsula Osteopathy + Allied Health, to get screened and assessed on your current capacity, and provided with an individually tailored plan to ensure you hit the ground running! (Pun intended).

Single leg sit-to-stand

Single leg strength, stability, and endurance is a huge component of running efficiency and capacity. The average runner should be aiming to take around 160-180 steps per minute, so for a 25-minute jog, each leg must support the weight of the body approximately 4000+ times! The single leg sit-to-stand is the perfect way to begin loading the muscles of your hip, buttock and leg – in a similar fashion to the way they are required to work during running. Your health practitioner can help ascertain when and how to progress the exercise, by adding weights, increasing the range of motion, and more!

Sit to stand demonstration

Glute bridge

This exercise focuses on hip extension and increasing the control of your lumbopelvic region (from your low back into your hips and buttock). Our hip extensors, such as the gluteus maximus, are the powerhouse of the running stride. The glute bridge can be altered to become single leg, weighted or with different tempos, all of which may be smart progressions for your practitioner to explore with you.

glute bridge demo

Hamstring bridge

Weakness in the single leg hamstring bridge test has been shown to predict hamstring related injuries in AFL players and military personnel. While we may not be reaching the pace of an AFL player, hamstring strains, tendinopathies, and niggles are still very common amongst casual runners. Start double leg and work towards a single leg variation.

hamstring bridge demo

Copenhagen adduction

Hip and groin pain is another common running niggle. This exercise increases the strength and control of your adductors (groin) while also providing a side plank core control exercise – bang for buck! Begin with a short lever (knee on the chair) and progress to long lever when ready (ankle on the chair).

copenhagen demo

Calf raises

calf complex

The calf complex is made up of the gastrocnemius (the big two headed muscle you can see) and the soleus (underneath and severely under-appreciated). The soleus actually produces the majority of force in the ankle during running. To strengthen the soleus do calf raises with a bent knee and to strengthen the gastrocnemius do them with your knee straight. Did anyone notice that I snuck in 6 exercises?

calf raises demos     Bent Knee Variation    |   Straight Leg Variation

STRENGTH! WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?

Training for strength

Strength training uses the most weight with the least amount of repetitions with long rest periods in-between. Aiming for the ability to lift large amounts of weight for less time. Following the process of task-specific training, this is most effective for people who are trying to increase their overall load to be moved.

Training for Muscle Hypertrophy (growth)

Hypertrophy refers to muscle size as well as strength, you may see this in body-building where they utilise lighter weights, more repetitions and less time resting for particular muscle groups. Muscles require metabolic stress to increase in size, thus as a result of lactate acid build up and micro tears, the muscle then uses its repair process to rebuild and grow larger. This principle is best used for those beginning any exercise program as this utilises the aims of both muscle strength and movement, combining components of strength and endurance principles.

Training for Power

Power training involves using reasonably lighter weights and longer rest periods whilst the aim of the movement is to encourage speed. Power generally refers to the ability to move at high speeds. Power also includes the use of physics where force equals mass times acceleration and power training aims to practicing the acceleration part of the lift. Power principles are usually seen in athletes or powerlifting where weight is increased but require a high speed to move a certain weight. Power based exercises can also be found in HIIT workouts where explosive movements are completed with reduced rest.

Training for Muscular endurance

Endurance training requires more repetitions to ensure muscle functioning can last longer, usually with lighter weights. Rest is usually less for this principle as endurance is suggestive for long durations with little recovery. Endurance based programs for created for marathon runners, or for the everyday person to be able to withstand loading for an extended amount of time.

Which one is for you?

Consider your goal – what do you want to achieve out of your exercise program?
Consider your day-to-day activities – what do you do each day that requires a specific exercise program relative to your daily routine?
Consider what you have done previously – exercise, work and medical history can all have an impact on the physiological systems used within each of the above principles.
A training program is a variety of structured exercises using the principle FITT will guide you towards achieving your goals better.
• Frequency
• How many times a week for an activity?
• For sedentary individuals, start with 2-3 days/week of aerobic exercise and build up to 5 days/week. Build an exercise regime suited to your lifestyle.
• Intensity
• How hard to exert?
• Someone new to exercise should start at a low intensity, but health changes occur at a moderate exercise intensity
• Type
• Which type of activity should you do?
• Should be enjoyable, affordable, and achievable
• Time
• How long in minutes
• This does not include the warm up or cool down.
• 10 min bouts of exercise can be accumulated throughout the day
• If walking is the exercise – first increase the time before increasing the intensity (walking uphill/at a quicker pace)

Training or exercise programs are always most efficient when tailored specifically for individuals and their goals.

Medical Clearance and assessment is always advised prior to beginning any new exercise regime
Individuals unsure of the correct technique, exercise programming or structuring of a resistance program individual to their goals should consider receiving information and education from a qualified health/fitness professional, or Exercise Physiologist.

Any questions or concerns or if you would like to book in for an appointment to discuss your exercise goals, please contact the clinic on 5253 2345. You can also book online on our website!

Written by Tiarna Preer, Exercise Physiologist

References:

American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. Philadelphia :Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2000.

This pronouncement was written for the American College of Sports Medicine by: William J. Kraemer, Ph.D., FACSM (Chairperson); Kent Adams, Ph.D.; Enzo Cafarelli, Ph.D., FACSM; Gary A. Dudley, Ph.D., FACSM; Cathryn Dooly, Ph.D., FACSM; Matthew S. Feigenbaum, Ph.D., FACSM; Steven J. Fleck, Ph.D., FACSM; Barry Franklin, Ph.D., FACSM; Andrew C. Fry, Ph.D.; Jay R. Hoffman, Ph.D., FACSM; Robert U. Newton, Ph.D.; Jeffrey Potteiger, Ph.D., FACSM; Michael H. Stone, Ph.D.; Nicholas A. Ratamess, M.S.; and Travis Triplett-McBride, Ph.D. Progression Models in Resistance Training for Healthy Adults, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: February 2002 – Volume 34 – Issue 2 – p 364-380