Rest day? How about some Strength & Cross-Training

Today is my day off from running. It’s a cross/strength training day!

Cross-training is taking part in alternative forms of exercise, adding variety to the workout routine, rather than doing the same thing every time. Most importantly,  it helps enhance runners total conditioning and running performance. It should be part of every fitness plan because it helps reduce the risk of overuse injuries, improves muscular balance, targets your muscles in new and different ways, and aids in muscle recovery.

I am a member at the Healthworks – a women’s only fitness gyms in Cambridge – for almost ten years, and what I love most about it is their great amount of classes they offer every day and their variety.  All the instructors are very knowledgeable, professional and enthusiastic!

Usually on Saturday and on Tuesday morning I like to take body pump with Claudia and spinning class with Jakki who I love.  Jakki exudes energy and inspiration throughout the class and her classes are very intense and challenging with a good mixture of interval work which get my heart and lungs pumping.

Spinning is a great alternative to running as it develops lower body strength without the hard impact on the knee.  I was reading that cycling works out your leg muscles even more thoroughly than running since the quads and calves are strengthened with every pedal rotation.  Cycling also strengthens the connective tissue of the knee, hip, and ankle regions, reducing the risk of injury.  Today class was focused on speed work, sprints and intervals where she combined drills consisting of short periods of high intensity effort, achieved with speed and resistance divided by a period of recovery.  Physically very  demanding.   Mind over matter was Jakki saying for the class.

After spinning I took Bodypump class which is one of the fitness classes by Les Mills.  Bodypump is the original barbell class that strengthens your entire body. This 60-minute workout challenges all your major muscle groups by using the best weight-room exercises like squats, presses, lifts and curls.  Great music, awesome instructors and the choice of weight inspire me to get the results I came in for – and fast!

Why strength training? There are many benefits of strength training. As a runner, the primary benefits are: injury prevention; increased power; increase speed, increased stride length and running economy.  Running creates a slight muscular imbalance in the legs as the hamstrings and calf muscles develop at faster than the quadriceps and shins. Weight training helps address this imbalance.   Additional by strengthening muscle, as well as bone and connective tissue like ligaments and tendons weight training not only helps to prevent injury but also helps to reduce the severity of injury when it does occur.  The stronger the muscles, the longer they will take to fatigue and consequently the less risk of being injured.

Bottom line cross-training and strength training can benefit your running, health, fitness, and performance.

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