I learned early on that strength training is an important component to mountain running. You can get by without physical conditioning in road racing or track distances (I don't recommend it) but if you want to stay injury free and run to your full potential on the trails, then you might want to consider supplementing training with strength conditioning. If you're not a runner, these exercises are also great for your fitness!
Justin and I have been attending the Performance Kinsesis classes at 5Focus that past month. The classes have been a good way to break into strength training. We had a long stretch without racing so it was the best opportunity to add a new component to our training. We both felt weighed down and sore from jumping into it but we are slowly adapting.
We were finally in a steady rhythm of our new training regimes, and then our package at 5focus ran out. The kinesis package was actually awarded to Justin for winning the Lake Union 10k last August so we got through on a freebie. We could renew the package for a practical deal of $15/class but we are cheap students and I'd rather put that dough toward a new pair of running shoes. So I resorted to other options...
Don't be a hater, but Pinterest has some great core and hip strength exercises floating around. The majority of "pins" usually consist of a photoshopped barbie-ish woman in a skimpy sports bra, but every now and then there is a truly helpful routine. I collected a few, adapted most of them, scapegoated the 5focus classes for ideas, and then set up my own circuit. Then I hit up the internet for the best deals on equipment. 5Focus has fancy kinesis machines, but I can easily work the same muscles on my own accord with the simple items pictured above. 5Focus highlighted my weakest areas so I now know what I need to focus on.
I also like the idea of a backyard workout so I don't have to feel like I'm on display in a public area. I usually don't need a trainer calling at me to keep me motivated and I'd rather not choke on air conditioning. Instead I put on some tunes in the backyard twice a week and work my core zone.
I didn't want to take pictures of myself doing each exercise, so the following links will guide you in the right direction. These four basic items will get you off to a good start. Here's what you'll need:
Yoga Ball: There are endless balance exercises you can do with this ball. I find myself constantly tripping and finding my balance in rugged areas on the trails so I would denote balance as an important focus for strength conditioning. Core and hip strength are what I use this yoga ball for. Fitness Magazine has one of the better charts of ball exercises.
Medicine Ball: I use this mostly for core and arm strength. I went for the six pounder, but I probably would have been better off with the four pounder since I'm more interested in high reps. And I'm weak. So I do reps of haybales and use the medicine ball to build my core like this during sit-ups.
Resistance Bands: Not only can you work your entire body with resistance bands but there are great stretches you can do as well post run. My favorite exercises are on page 27, 33 and 34 of this manual. I'm also a fan of the thera-band squat.
Yoga Mat: This isn't necessary, but if you're allergic to grass or don't want ants crawling up your crack you might want to invest. It's nice to have a surface to lay on for basic crunches.
We also have a portable pull-up bar that was bought a few years ago. You can easily find one for around $20 online. Justin usually grabs the bar whenever he walks past it.
I am an outdoor and travel junkie who is currently completing my doctorate in occupational therapy overseas in rural Fiji. On Sweet World Travels you will find stories of my life with my husband, the communities we serve, and the many adventures we take.