Beginners Running. Exercises For A Whole Body Workout.

Work out at the gym or at home?

If you’re looking to add an exercise routine to your running staple then think about whether you want to do this through a gym/exercise class, or at home. And whether you want additional cardio or muscle toning, or both.

At a gym/exercise class, look for something that is fun and motivating. Zumba (or anything dance-related) fits this bill – much more fun in a class than on your own with a DVD. Equally, spinning and boxercise/interval training or yoga/Pilates classes where you may need the instructor’s advice and motivation.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to go to the gym then a varied library of DVDs at home is ideal.

When choosing workout DVDs think about the following:

  • The kit you need (workout mat/fitness ball/band/weights etc)
  • The space you have available
  • The time you have available
  • What you want to achieve – cardio or muscle toning or both
  • If you live in an apartment with people below you; are the floors ok if you’re jumping about a lot, or will the neighbours complain?
  • Whether you prefer a male or female instructor
  • Whether there are sample videos on the internet so you can try before you buy.

For over all toning, strengthening and shaping, if you have the space, my personal recommendation would be the fitness ball workouts. It works the core with every exercise and a strong core prevents back injury, it gives a flatter belly and better posture. You can add weights to the routines and use it for yoga and Pilates moves too.

If you don’t have a lot of space then try stretch band exercises or yoga, which only need a mat. You can look up examples of these workouts on YouTube and try a few before investing in a DVD.

If you’re overweight, any toning exercise will help. By improving the muscle tone and strength the muscle becomes more taught, making any fat lying over it look firmer.

In addition, muscles are the calorie burning powerhouses so working muscles and making them more efficient means they burn more calories, even at rest.

To tone muscles, use light weights – either hand, wrist or ankle weights – and do lots of repetitions, rather than heavy weights and low numbers of reps. The latter is for bulking up the muscles.

Single, Additional Exercises for Runners.

It’s a popular myth that running trains all the body’s other areas. Upper body, lower body and mid-section strength all add to running performance. It makes sense that strengthening all muscle groups (not just the ones you assume are weaker) creates better balance for the body and prevents injury.

A 2013 study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science showed that resistance (weight) training enhanced running performance and built muscle fibres. This latter point is especially important as we age because we lose muscle mass.

Here are a few exercises you can do during the day and without having to change into your exercise attire or get out any equipment. You can do them:

  • While you’re waiting for the kettle to boil/microwave to ping
  • While cleaning your teeth
  • While waiting for the shower to get hot
  • While the bath is running
  • While waiting in line for something
  • During the ad breaks on TV.

“A strong bum is the key to a happy life.” So says sports medicine specialist Dr Jordan Metzl. Try these:

Lunges
Lunges

Squats and lunges – the runner’s best friend.

Ok, so doing this while there are other people around might earn you some strange looks, so do these at home.

Squats from a chair:

  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, in front of a chair.
  2. Keep your back relaxed but straight and fairly upright. Slowly squat to sitting (don’t actually sit down).
  3. Hold for a second and then slowly push up again through the heels to a standing position. By pushing through your heals you should be able to life your toes in your shoes.
  4. As you push up to stand, zip up your pelvic floor muscles (as if you were stopping the flow of urine) as a bonus exercise.
  5. Work up to 6 sets of 15 reps.

Lunges:

  1. From a standing position, lunge one leg forward keeping your torso upright, your front knee over your toes and the back shin parallel to the ground.
  2. Now push through the heel of the front foot to return to standing. You’ll feel it through the thighs (quads) and butt (glutes).
  3. Do 5 sets of 15 reps, resting for 30-60 seconds between each set.
  4. You can add a plyometric variation to this: instead of stepping back to a standing position, spring into the air to switch legs. Use a controlled action and land lightly.

Calf raises.

Calf raises:

  1. Simply stand with your feet flat on the floor (don’t try this in heels but do wear a shoe, especially when you’re new to this exercise).
  2. Rise up slowly onto your tip-toes.
  3. Hold for a pulse then
  4. Lower back to the floor.
  5. If you’re wobbling while you’re on tip-toes then rest your hand on the wall or a surface at waist height until your balance improves.

Upper body exercises.

Push ups:

  1. Either use the floor, a chair against the wall, the side of the bath, or the wall if you really have no upper body strength.
  2. Place your hands just wider than shoulder width apart with your legs straight out behind you in the classic push-up style.
  3. Slowly lower your upper body towards the floor/chair/bath/wall and
  4. Push back up again.
  5. Breathe out as you go down and in as you push up.
  6. Do 4 sets of 4 reps and increase the reps as you get stronger.

This works the chest (giving a nice bust uplift) and upper back and arm muscles.

Tricep dips.

Tricep dips:

  1. Again, use a chair against the wall or the side of the bath.
  2. Stand with your back to the chair seat/bath and lower yourself so that your palms are resting on the edge of it, fingers curling over the rim.
  3. Keep your elbows pointing back behind you and lower your butt towards the floor.
  4. Hold for a pulse and push back up.
  5. Breathe out as you go down and in as you push up.
  6. Do 4 sets of 5 reps and increase the reps and you get stronger.

The triceps are the muscles at the back of the upper arms, often called ‘Bingo Wings’ in the UK – they’re the ones that flap about when you wave. Improving their tone gives elegant arms in summer clothes.

How to plank safely.

Midsection exercises.

A toned midsection is the Holy Grail for a lot of women. There is no spot fat reduction without surgery so try these to tighten up the core muscles.

Plank:

  1. Go down onto the floor so that your elbows, knees and toes are supporting you there.
  2. Lay your forearms and hands flat and facing forward and lift your knees up so that your weight is through your forearms and toes.
  3. Tuck your belly muscles and zip up your pelvic floor.
  4. Keep your back straight and eyes looking down at the floor.
  5. Keep breathing and count slowly, holding that position for 10 if you can, but stop if your lower back starts to sag.
  6. Lower to the floor and repeat.
  7. Aim to increase the time while maintaining your form – don’t let your butt stick up in the air or your lower back sag.

One foot balance.

One-foot balance:

Do this in bare feet or flats so that you don’t injure the ankle.

  1. Just stand with your feet flat on the floor and be aware of your centre core.
  2. Take one foot slightly off the floor and gently place the back of the heel of this foot against the toe of the foot that’s on the floor.
  3. Zip up your core and pelvic floor as you do so.
  4. Hold this position for as long as you can, keeping your core zipped up to maintain your balance.
  5. If you need to place your finger tips lightly on a waist-high surface then do, but only until your core is strong enough so you can balance on your own.

Balance sit-ups:

Wear loose clothing for this one and take professional advice if you have an existing back problem.

  1. Sit on the floor and bend your knees.
  2. Zip up your core muscles and put your arms out ahead of you at shoulder height.
  3. Lean back a little and lift your feet off the floor, straightening the hips and knees a little. Find your balance.
  4. From this position lean back and straighten the hips and knees out a little further as if you were opening scissor blades. Maintain your balance by gently zipping up and locking the core all the time.
  5. Now scissor up so your knees come back to your chest (they don’t have to touch the chest).
  6. Scissor out again by leaning back and straightening the hips.
  7. Breathe out as you scissor out and in as you bring the knees back to the chest.
  8. Repeat 5 times and increase the reps as you get stronger.

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