Strength Training for Runners

Strength training for runners is an important event.

What Does Strength Training Have to do with Running?

On the face of it, strength training for runners doesn’t make sense. Running fast means lessening the weight you carry around, which is why you won’t find any “chubby” world-class runners. In fact, runners tend to be lean and mean machines, especially for those who specialize in long distance running where champions look like they’ve been starving for some time while languishing in a prison camp.

Recently, however, a growing number of the running population has come to the realization that strength training for runners has its benefits. Perhaps one of the most important benefits is that being physically strong helps prevent injuries while running. And not only does it make you stronger, but it also makes you run more efficiently. In fact, it makes you run faster!

It’s important to note however that runners have their own priorities, and these are not the same as those of bodybuilders. Runners need a different strength training program than a football player. So instead of exercises that involve pushing away weight from the body, the exercises runners should perform need to concentrate on working the target muscles that will improve balance.

According to the foremost experts of our time, here are the strengthening exercises runners need to do:

  1. Planks. Do about 3 to 5 reps of these. This exercise will work the muscles in your shoulders, lower back, and core.
  2. Lower Body Russian Twist. Lie with your back on the floor. Your knees, however, should be bent 90 degrees from your body, and your lower legs should be perpendicular to the floor. It’s like you’re sitting down, except that you’re lying on your back. Now keep your legs in this position while you lower them to one side. Return your legs to their original position, and then work on your other side. That’s a single rep, and you need to do 10 to 12 of these. If you find this too easy, keep your whole leg straight, 90 degrees from your body. This exercise will work your core muscles.
  3. Scorpion. Go into the pushup position, but your feet should be resting on a low bench. Now try to raise your right knee to your left shoulder while you rotate your hips to the left to help you do so. Then reverse your hips to the right and try to reach behind your left shoulder with your right foot (which, by the way, is impossible so don’t be disappointed when your fail). Do as many as you can for 30 seconds, and then do it with your left leg. This exercise will work your core and shoulder muscles. If you find it too hard, just do step one. If it’s too easy, place your shins on a stability ball instead of your feet on a bench.
  4. Rotational Shoulder Press. Stand straight while you carry a dumbbell in each hand just at your shoulders, with your palms facing each other. Now stretch your arms as you rotate to the left, and then go back to the original position. Then do the same as you go to the right. The entire sequence is one rep, and you should do 6 to 8 of these. This workout will work your core, triceps, and shoulders. If this is too hard, do just half the reps, or do it without the rotation.

Strength Training for Runners Offers Many Advantages

One of the many advantages of strength training for runners is that these exercises don’t take an inordinate amount of time, and you only need to do them twice or thrice a week.

Strength training offers so many advantages that everyone, no matter what age, and no matter the gender, should do them regularly. If you haven’t done any strength training before, now is the perfect time to do so.

A good place to put together your strength training workout routine is to subscribe to the Newsletter and then follow along with your choice of the yoga, Kettlebell or dumbbell workout series on video. With the individual videos that you’ll find there, you can put together a strength training workout for running alone or focus on general muscle building and endurance. Besides hiring a fitness coach, video is the next best way to learn from.

Strength Training for Women

Strength training for women is ideal when properly done.

Traditionally, strength training for women has not been exactly a mainstream idea. Most people don’t really find muscled women all that appealing, and many women don’t engage in strength training because they’re afraid that they’ll look like a female version of the Incredible Hulk.

Strength Training for Women: End the Double-Standards

Even in the Olympics, this double standard has endured, and it was only in the 2000 Sydney Olympics that women’s weightlifting was included.

Like strength training for men, there isn’t a single program out there that’s perfect for every woman. But the best strength training programs for women will have the following features:

  • Heavy weights. This is perhaps the most important aspect of them all. Regardless of what you hear about strength training for women, lifting heavy weights does not cause massive muscles. Most women who do get those large muscles consume a lot of calories for that very purpose, and they probably take a lot of protein supplements as well. Since strength training is about tearing muscle fiber, those puny 5 pound weights are virtually useless. Women really need to lift weights which feel heavy for them, so that the workout becomes effective.
  • Variety. The body adapts to exercises, so you need to challenge it in different ways so that it doesn’t stop progressing. There’s also the extra benefit that having varied workouts may prevent you from getting bored.
  • During the first few months, you may want to start with the basic exercises. These involve barbells dumbbells or Kettlebells, but don’t get intimidated. These exercises are the power clean, deadlift, squat, overhead press, and the bench press.
  • Some of these may have different versions for women. Once you master these, you may want to look into several different versions of each of these exercises.
  • Compensate for your weakness. Everyone, men and women alike, has weaknesses. While it can be exhilarating to improve all your strengths, it’s imperative that you work on your weaknesses. You’re only as strong as your weakest point. For women, the most notable weaknesses are the inner and outer thighs (which pros call the hip adductors and abductors), the mid to upper back, the shoulders, and the triceps. You overcome these weaknesses by doing some exercises that target these specific areas.
  • Motivation. A lot of women admit to quitting, since there’s a subliminal atmosphere of disapproval about women lifting weights. So work with people who want to see you succeed in order for you to always have the motivation to push forward.

Contrary to popular belief, strength training is important for women as well. It’s not just political correctness, but common sense.

Yoga Stretches Can Help Lower Back Pain

Doing yoga stretches can be a blessing for lower back pain sufferers.

Can Yoga Help Your Lower Back Pain?

The American Heart Association says that most people will suffer some form of lower back pain in their life. And if you have this debilitating affliction, you know how limiting it can be. Aside from improving heart health, helping you lose weight and drastically increasing brainwave function and recall, proper yoga practice can actually reduce lower back pain.

But there are a few yoga poses and positions that do a better job at this than others. Practice the following yoga poses in your routine every week, and benefit from less lower back pain as a result but be sure that you have proper clearance from your doctor and be certain that you are doing the poses correctly. A good yoga instructor can help you with this.

Whether sitting at your computer on the job for hour after hour, or bent over in your backyard garden, your daily activities can lead to lower back pain. One pair of yoga poses that works so well together for reducing back pain is the Cat/Cow combo.

By moving back and forth between these two postures, you begin to warm up as well as stretch your back muscles. These include the muscles in your lower back. Look to your yoga trainer or coach for proper form and function, or turn to the many yoga courses and programs offered on the Internet for convenient use in your home at your leisure.

One of the yoga positions well known for strengthening your lower back muscles is the Chair pose. A quick word of warning… If you are new to yoga take it easy with this particular mode. Mimicking the natural human body movement when you sit in a chair, you hold this pose for 10 deep breaths.

As you squat this focuses attention on your lower back muscles, and over time can condition your body with such strong muscles in that region that you not only can treat lower back pain, but you greatly reduce your risk of contracting it in the first place.

While Downward Dog may sound like a depressed canine, it is actually an excellent yoga pose for supporting all of your back muscles. This wonderful position also helps improve your overall body posture, and even engages your abdominal muscles. The longer you are able to hold this pose in a comfortable manner the better and more beneficial it is to your lower back.

Spinal Twist sounds like a great name for a rock band, but is actually a great pose for overworked back muscles. Beginners are recommended to take this slowly, as over-twisting can aggravate and accelerate back pain.

With the Spinal Twist pose you are looking to stretch gently. If you begin to feel pain of any kind, back off and move to a more comfortable position. The Standing Forward Bend is a beneficial exercise in many ways. It also effectively uses gravity to more gently and comfortably stretch your lower back after positions like the Chair pose.

With your arms raised above your head, swan dive forward on your next inhale and bend at your waist. Practicing this yoga pose will eventually allow you to touch the floor, and this is one of many simple to perform but helpful yoga positions which can help you reduce back pain.

What to Eat Before and After Yoga

Take time to think about what you eat and when before and after doing yoga.

Eating Right to Get the Most Benefits From Your Yoga Routine

To get the most benefits from yoga, poses should be done on an empty stomach.

Not only do poses work the outside of your body, but certain ones also work the inside, and if you are full or still trying to digest a big meal, you can’t do many of the poses properly.

What to Eat in Regards to Yoga

The Yoga diet is different from other types of diets in that it is not centered on counting calories or quantity of food. Instead, it relies heavily on the quality of certain types of food in their natural form, such as:

  • whole grains
  • seasonal fruits
  • vegetables
  • milk
  • honey
  • dried fruits

As you look at the list, notice nothing on it is processed or refined. Everything is just as nature provides it. Also, the diets of yogis stress balance and to achieve that goal in their eating, they eat select items from each food listed.

When to Eat in Regards to Yoga

As noted, yoga is best performed on an empty stomach. If you eat a meal from the recommended items, make sure you do not eat later than 1 hour prior to your practice. That way what you ate has time to digest and will not interfere with your yoga experience. If you are eating a meal heavily laden with meats or other processed and refined foods (which you shouldn’t be in the first place), allow 3 to 4 hours before doing your workout routine.

Eating Before Yoga

While not recommended, sometimes you have to have a little something to eat to carry you through the workout – especially if you are just coming from work and have not eaten in a while. A small serving of yogurt along with some fruits or vegetables a ½ hour to an hour before class would give you the energy and stamina you need to get through your poses.

Eating After Yoga

If it takes you a while to drive home after your yoga class, bring some unsalted almonds and dried fruit with you to eat on the way home. For your evening meal, concentrate on eating healthy protein like eggs or fish along with some whole grains and vegetables.

Hydration is important. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking water throughout the day and after your yoga class, but try to avoid drinking water just prior to your class. Doing yoga immediately after drinking 8 ounces of water can produce nausea in some students while others experience stomach cramps. Some yogis benefit from drinking a glass of organic juice after class to help replenish nutrients and electrolytes lost during the practice.

By eating smart and adhering to the timelines in this article, you can get the most benefit and fulfilling experience from each of your yoga classes.

What Yoga Clothes To Wear?

Choosing the right yoga clothes will give you a better experience.

There’s Many Choice for Yoga Clothes

What to wear? When you are deciding what you should wear while practicing yoga, you have entirely too many choices. Should you wear loose fitting yoga clothes, or tight ones? Are flashy, bright colors acceptable at class? Or are you expected to be muted and conservative in your clothing color choices?

These are all great questions that deserve consideration when you decide what you should wear while performing yoga asanas, poses and sequences, but there are a few simple rules you should definitely follow.

Opt for Comfort With Your Yoga Clothes

Remember, as with any physical exercise, your goal with yoga should be to dress for comfort and fit. You should be able to move easily from one pose to another without having to fuss with your outfit. If you are attending yoga class for the first time, you are already experiencing enough anxiety. No need to add to that by wearing ill-fitting clothing.

The focus of yoga is calmness and serenity, so choose clothing in colors that promote peace and tranquility in yourself and others is a good idea. One of the most popular brands of clothing many women really like is Kate Hudson’s Fabletics line. Fabletics is comfortable, stylish and affordable.

Beware of Wardrobe Malfunctions with Your Choice of Yoga Clothes

Light and loose-fitting clothing made of cotton or linen is fine for yoga. What may seem obvious may not be, so leave the leather, synthetic rubber and denim for other activities. And men, make sure that your clothing is loose, but not overly so. No need for an accidental exposure which might embarrass you as well as your fellow yoga classmates.

For women, you need to ensure that there is not an accidental wardrobe malfunction. Test out potential yoga outfits at home in front of a mirror, or simply ask your instructor for some guidelines in this area.

The Right Yoga Clothes Helps Your Instructor Help You Better

Remember, you are simply trying to cover your body, not hide it. You are aiming for function over fashion. If you are bathed in voluminous folds of fabric, your instructor may not be able to correctly see your alignment or body posture. To give you proper insight and guidance, your teacher needs to be able to see your body parts move.

And when choosing one fabric over another, this is generally personal choice. Don’t forget, however, that cotton absorbs sweat very efficiently, and retains it. If you know that you sweat heavily, you may want to choose quick-dry clothing materials that wick the sweat away from your skin. This lets your body breathe more easily.

Layer Your Yoga Clothes in Colder Weather

Many established yoga clothing companies have developed a layering method which offers many benefits. The lightweight jackets with zippers, long-sleeved hoodies and other products they make are excellent for colder weather.

These are also great to bring to a yoga class that is being held in a cold or cool room. And by wearing layers you raise your core temperature, which loosens muscles and allows your body to cool down slowly.

When wearing layers of clothing as you practice yoga, you can simply remove a layer at a time if you start getting too warm. Follow these simple clothing tips and you will maximize your physical and spiritual experience, while minimizing embarrassing or uncomfortable yoga sessions.

A Good Time of Day To Practice Yoga

It doesn't matter as much to when but if you practie yoga or not.

When you perform your yoga routines is individualistic and should be done when it best fits in with your daily schedule, lifestyle and body signals. Some yogis champion for morning workouts; others prefer to practice yoga mid-day; still others swear evening is the best time.

Your Daily Schedule When You Practice Yoga

If you have the time in the morning or can make the time, right after you get up is a good time to practice. Because yoga is best practiced on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning is a good time to run through your yoga routine. With an early morning routine, when you ate last is not an issue, as it can be at other times of the day. Because you are fresh, you can practice a variety of active energizing poses and perform a full workout, but realize the downside is your muscles may be stiff during the first few poses.

If midday is your best time of day for yoga, you may prefer to concentrate your practice on seated bends and twist poses. It can drain away the stress from the morning and prepare you for the afternoon.

For many yogis, the best time of day is in the evening. The workday is over, you most likely have not eaten since lunch (outside of a small mid-afternoon healthy snack) and your muscles are loose from the daily grind. It can be the perfect time of day to practice calming and relaxing poses.

Split yoga practices are also popular. Some yogis do a short routine in the morning to get them ready for the day and a longer routine of different poses in the evening to relax them. Regardless when you practice, finish with the Corpse Pose.

Your Lifestyle When You Practice Yoga

You may be one where the time of day does not drive your yoga practices, but instead your lifestyle. These people fit in yoga practices where it best fits in with their daily schedule. If you take yoga classes, most studios offer several classes throughout the day, so finding one that fits your schedule shouldn’t be too difficult. You may start out with some energizing poses and wind down at the end with calming and relaxing ones.

Listen to Your Body Signals When You Practice Yoga

Once you have been doing yoga for a while, you will find yourself in better tune with your body. If you listen to what it has to say, you may find out that you are practicing too often.

Our bodies are sensitive also to the change in seasons. You may find a select group of poses work well in summer, but not in the winter. However you may also find that certain poses work well both in the spring and fall because of the likeness in temperature during those two times of year.

You will find some great yoga demonstration to help you get started right here but regardless of which poses you do or when you practice yoga, the important part is reaping the benefits of doing yoga to improve your health and well-being.

To Learn Yoga at Home or in a Class?

Learn yoga at home or in a class, here are the solutions.

Learning Yoga at Home or in a Class is a Matter of Personal Preference and Convenience

Yoga has been proven to reduce stress, help relieve lower back pain, increase longevity and deliver a host of other positive and beneficial health attributes. And you may want to get started practicing yoga at home, versus in an organized class. There could be many reasons for this.

The available yoga classes offered in your town may be far away from your home, or you might have young ones to tend to. Maybe you just prefer to exercise alone, or feel sensitive about your body weight or shape, and would like to get started on your own at first. Whatever your reasons for learning and practicing yoga at home, there are a few things you need to know.

Practicing Yoga at Home is a Low Cost Option

First off, practicing yoga at home as opposed to some other exercise has never been easier. A home practice of yoga requires a sticky mat and you as a basic beginning. You can always purchase two blocks and a strap for modifications, and perhaps in the future purchase a yoga blanket.

Even if you buy all of those items, as well as a meditation cushion, the physical space you need and the financial outlay you incur to practice yoga at home are both minimal. And classes offered outside your home can be costly.

Remember that when learning yoga at home, you will have to be your own strict teacher. Regular classes are attended at a particular time, and you should probably set up a space and time which is dedicated to yoga in your home. Make sure your yoga space is uncluttered and serene, and one tip here is to add images and objects that create a sense of peace and tranquillity.

Since there are literally hundreds of forms and modifications of this ancient spiritual practice, choose a yoga style which fits you best, and stick to it. Beginners can start off with forms like Iyengar or Kripalu yoga, which help you learn proper positioning.

A Yoga Instructor Can Show You How to Do Yoga at Home

While learning yoga at home can save on financial and time investments, you can get great training in a class. That means that if you want to practice at home you may want to contact a yoga teacher or instructor to ensure your efforts are correct, so that you can receive maximum benefits.

After a time you can then begin to develop your own personal practice privately at home. And if no instructor is available, the beauty of the Internet provides helpful yoga DVD courses, books and even yoga flash cards which you can purchase and have delivered to your front door.

What if you find certain aspects of both home practice and out-of-the-home structured classes attractive? Then you may want to look into joining an online yoga club. This gives you access to podcasts, user guides and video direction from trained yoga masters, available in your particular time frame, and in the privacy of your home. And there are smart-phone applications which allow you to complement your at-home yoga practice with on the go, anywhere availability.

Whether learning yoga at home versus in a structured class setting, you can access the many mind and body benefits this simple, spiritual and physical exercise delivers.

Is Practicing Yoga Religious?

Practicing yoga is not a religion but it can be a religious experience.

Practicing Yoga is Designed to Work with All Religions

In researching the origins of yoga leads us to understand that it was created as a spiritual practice with the goal of achieving a “union with the absolute.”

But since the early 1960s in the US and other countries of the Western world, when yoga started to be practiced for health benefits, the lines have been blurred between the religious and physical aspects of this ancient mystic practice. And in the 1980s, Hatha yoga became exponentially popular in the United States, practiced in YMCAs, Christian churches, physical therapy clinics and nonreligious yoga-specific training centers.

The fact that yoga was first created as an Eastern form of thought and philosophy in no way detracts from the physical benefits it delivers. Many Western proponents of yoga will argue that it is not religious. And in the bestselling “Meditations from the Mat” the author claims that there is nothing in the ancient yoga texts that eliminates the practice by any particular religion.

As a how-to guide for right living with a goal of spiritual and physical conditioning, practicing yoga can benefit you regardless of your spiritual or religious beliefs.

Is Practicing Yoga Religious? It’s a Matter of Perception…

The difference is in your perception. In the Western world it is seen primarily as a physical exercise regimen. In the Eastern world yoga is regarded as a spiritual life practice.

But since the human mind and body benefit so wonderfully from the regular practice of yoga, it really doesn’t matter how you view this simple but powerful activity. Healthy weight loss, reduction of stress, improved concentration and memory and even a reduction in your risks of contracting heart disease are all healthy benefits that yoga delivers.

Then there are those yogis in the Western world, like David Life and Sharon Gannon, who have developed their own yoga methods. Their Jivamukti version is based on yoga as an adaptation of practical philosophy and not religion, according to its creators.

However, both Gannon and Life openly attest that yoga is definitely linked to Hinduism and philosophical schools which also include Vedanta, Samkhya, Jainism, and Buddhism. First beginning to appear in the Upanishads as early as 1,000 BC, yoga was without a doubt created as a more spiritual practice than a physical one.

And since the very tenets of this ancient spirit and health enhancement point to each individual’s path of development, there is not any simple religious or nonreligious adaptation that we can point to and identify as yoga. There are several schools of thought and practice, both religious and physical, which dictate different forms of yoga.

Kundalini focuses on strenuous exercise and deep breathing. Hatha postures and continual movement are the basis for Astanga yoga. And there are more yoga asanas, sequences and methods which focus on sexual energy, body sensation, mental enlightenment and other immediate goals.

There is no doubt that yoga has its origins in the ancient spiritual and religious Eastern world, but today’s yoga practitioners are as diverse in their religious beliefs as are the many forms of this beneficial mental and physical exercise.

5 Top Yoga Poses for Beginners

When you're confused about what yoga poses to do, start with these five top yoga poses to get you moving.

End the Confusion by Starting with These Top Yoga Poses

If you are considering taking up yoga, you are no doubt confused which poses to begin with as there are well over 100 different ones to choose from. When you are ready to begin, these 5 top yoga poses will give you a good feel for yoga. Hold each pose for 15-30 seconds before returning to its starting position.

Top Yoga Pose #1: Downward-Facing Dog

The starting position is on your hands and knees with your knees slightly behind your hips, feet shoulder-width apart and your hands slightly forward of your shoulders. Start walking your hands back toward you while raising your body. At the peak of the exercise, your hands and heels of your feet will be on the floor; your body should look like an inverted “V”. The first few times you try this pose, you may not be able to fully do it. Do the best you can and continue to work toward the desired end state.

Top Yoga Pose #2: Upward-Facing Dog

For this pose, you’ll start by lying on your stomach. Place your hands at your sides as if you were going to do push-ups. Now extend your arms and push your upper body up; your knees and feet should still be on the floor. Tilt your head back so you are looking up at the ceiling.

Top Yoga Pose #3: Child’s Pose

Start by kneeling on the floor. Drop your buttocks down toward your heels as you stretch the rest of your body down and forward, extending your arms in front of you. Relax your butt back onto your toes, trying to push your butt into the ground. Simultaneously, extend your arms out as far in front of you as far as you can.

Top Yoga Pose #4: Warrior II

Starting position is standing with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Now lift and rotate one leg 90 degrees while keeping your other leg at the starting position. Lean forward on the leg you rotated until the shin of that foot is perpendicular with the floor. At the same time, straighten your leg that is still in the starting position and raise your arms until they are parallel to the floor. You should now have one arm pointing directly in front of you, and the other directly behind you. Continue to look straight forward and hold this pose for the required time. Repeat on the opposite side.

Top Yoga Pose #5: Tree

From the standing straight position with your shoulders back, slowly lift up one foot and place it on the inside of your other leg about knee-high. At the same time, place your hands together in front of you and slowly raise them above your head. Hold this pose for the required time and repeat using the opposite leg.

Rotate though these five poses two to three times without rest for three to four days per week. Focus on building the amount of time you can hold each pose until you can hold each one for 60 seconds. As you can see by reading through each pose, focusing on the task is essential to doing it right.

You can find more yoga poses for beginners on video right here . Those yoga videos will help you learn how to do many popular yoga postures.

How Can Yoga Improve Your Posture?

A great way to improve your posture is by doing certain yoga poses.

Certain functions that we do a lot, like a long-drive commute or sitting in front a computer for extended periods of time, can raise havoc with our posture over time but there are ways to improve your posture. If you find your posture has deteriorated and you tend to slouch when standing upright, certain yoga poses can get you standing tall again.

Here are 6 Yoga Poses That Help Improve Your Posture:

Mountain Pose

The purpose of the mountain pose is to get your body to realize when your back is in perfect alignment with your head, neck and shoulders. This is called the neutral position. If you have difficulty with this pose when first trying it, doing it with your back against a flat vertical wall can help you find your neutral position. Once you know what neutral feels like, you can then do it without using the wall as a prop.

Boat Pose

This pose, called Navasana, strengthens your lower abdominal muscles, which support your lower back and pelvis. While breathing deep, hold the pose for at least 30 seconds.

Locust Pose

Salabhasana is an upper body pose that focuses on strengthening the muscles that hold the shoulder blades in alignment. As the muscles become stronger, they shorten thus pulling your shoulder blades down and back, increasing your vertical posture and alignment.

Bridge Pose

This is one of the best poses to correct for poor posture. It works by strengthening your spine and increasing its flexibility. This pose along with 69 others can be found on these online yoga videos.

Standing Forward Bend

With your hands interlaced behind your back, this pose stretches out the shoulders and hamstrings. To get the maximum benefit from doing this pose, pull your shoulders up by tightening up your shoulder blades as you bend over in half. Once in the bent position, release the pressure on your shoulder blades letting them slide back into place.

Cat-Cow Stretch Pose

While most of the other poses have been done from the standing position, the starting position for this pose is on all fours. By moving your spine through flexion (back down/head up) and extension (back up/head down) you’ll find the ideal neutral position of your spine.

Doing Desk Yoga to Improve Your Posture

Yoga doesn’t have to be done in a studio or at home; there are some modified poses that you can do to improve your posture while seated at your desk:

  • Seated Forward Bend – Push your chair back from your desk. While still seated, place both feet flat on the floor. Now interlace your fingers behind your back. Straighten your arms back while folding at the waist, bringing your interlaced hands up and over your back. Rest your chest on your thighs and release your neck. Hold for 15-20 seconds.
  • Seated Cat-Cow Stretch – While seated, start by placing both feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on your knees. Now the breathing; on the inhale, arch your back and look up toward the ceiling; on the exhale, round your spine and look down. Repeat for 3-5 breaths.

While yoga doesn’t make you taller, it appears that you are taller by you finding your spine’s neutral position and making you stand more erect. Plus as a side benefit, it can help alleviate neck and lower back pain. So if you find yourself with a poor posture, try doing yoga to improve your posture and your overall health.