Archive for January, 2012

Using TRX Workouts to Improve Your Running and Sports Performance

As I wrote in my post on the Airdyne Exercise Bike, another tool I use to improve my running time is TRX workouts.  The TRX system is a whole body exercise aparatus that uses your bodyweight and some very well designed straps to give the user a whole body workout.

Personally, the TRX suspension trainer has improved my core strength, upper and lower body strength, mobility, and flexibility.  This has had dramatic benefits on my running performance as I know that my whole body is in better shape which allows me to run more efficiently and with more power.  Combined with my endurance work I have been able to see strong gains in both 5-K and 10-K time.  I did this without increasing the time I spend on the road but focusing on using the TRX from two to three times per week.

Most importantly other professional runners use the TRX their training.  Ironman Champs Chris Lieto, Linsey Corbin and Tyler Stewart all use the TRX as part of their regular routine.

On Amazon.com, there are a number of positive reviews of the system and many people have discussed how they use it to improve their running performance.

What is a Suspension Trainer?

The TRX falls into the genre of fitness equipment called suspension trainers.  Basically it is a series of straps and handles that the user attached to a stationary object and uses bodyweight exercises to build strength, mobility, and flexibility.

Here is a definition from Wikipedia which describes a suspension trainer the best:

Suspension Training is a type of bodyweight exercise in which a variety of multi-planar, compound exercise movements can be performed. These are done with the aim of developing strength, balance, flexibility, and joint stability simultaneously. Suspension Training can be considered a type of resistance training.

These trainers are also great in that they are very portable and take up very little space.  This means that you can use it at home without taking up any space.  You can also take it on the road and use it in hotel rooms to ensure you get your additional training in.

How TRX Workouts can Improve Your Running Time

The TRX system can be used in a number of different ways.  However, we are worried about covering running.  TRX running is what we will call a program that is focused on building up our running performance.

The benefits to runners and other athletes can be best explained by Matt Dixon, world-class trainer:

“My big message is that whether you’re training for cycling, running or triathlon, people tend to dramatically over train and get very fit but very tired. We put the TRX up there as equal in importance to swimming, biking and running [for triathlete clients],” says Dixon, who is also an instructor at the VeloSF cycling training center. “That’s one of the secrets of our success. We have far fewer injuries and much greater strength and stability as a result of integrating TRX training into training programs.”

They key is less injuries and greater strength and stability.  As part of a whole training program runners who have built the TRX into their programs are faster and less prone to injury.

TRX Workouts – Training with the TRX to Improve Your Running

There are a number of good TRX workouts that you can do to improve your running.  I want to start with a video from the people at TRX that give a good overview of how to train for endurance events like running using the TRX suspension system.

 

The exercises outlined in this video will go a long way to get you ready to take on longer runs and actually improve your running time.  Some other examples include the TRX corkscrew, the TRX jump squat, and even the TRX muscle-up.  All of these will improve your whole body strength and allow you to recover better for those longer runs.

Where to Buy the TRX

I hope I have convinced you that the TRX is a viable tool for runners.  Bar-none, the best place to buy one is on Amazon.com.  They are the cheapest.  Be sure to get the TRX door anchor kit so you can use it at home.

 

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Posted by The Running Guy - January 18, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Categories: how to improve running time   Tags: , , ,

How to Get Faster at Running by Training with the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells

When I first started running the question I had in my head all the time was, “How to Get Faster at Running?”  I thought I had been doing everything right.  My mileage was steadily increasing over the weeks as I built up to my half-marathon race at that time.  But it was not getting that much faster. It wasn’t until I purchased a set of Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells and started to build strength workouts into my running program.

Why Strength Helps Us Run Faster

Do you think that strength workouts will be of no benefit to you as a runner?  If you are like most people then I bet you do.  However, building whole body strength has a couple of huge benefits, including helping you run faster.

Consider this quote from Runner’s World:

“Running faster is easier if your whole body is working with you,” says Jim Fischer, head coach of men’s cross-country and track at the University of Delaware. “A runner with strong legs but weak arm muscles and weak core muscles will always be slower than a runner with total-body fitness.”

It stands to reason that a stronger body will work better and actually allow us to have quicker leg turnover and more efficient and powerful whole-body movement which can only lead to faster running time.  So, if the question is, “How to Get Faster at Running?”, the part of the answer needs to be building strength.

Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells

Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells

That is where the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells come in to play.

Strength, Not Size

Before I talk more about these dumbbells and my program, I want to emphasize that we are talking about building strength, and not necessarily size.  As a runner you don’t want to get bulky as the extra weight will slow you down.  As such, you don’t need to be doing huge olympic lifts in your strength training. Instead you are going to focus on basic movements with heavy weights for lower reps that will add strength but not  size.

Why Adjustable Dumbbells

I workout at home a lot.  As a busy professional I don’t have a lot of time to be going to the gym in addition to logging the miles I need to depending on the race I am working towards.

That is where adjustable dumbbells come in.  These dumbbells pack up to 52.5 pounds in each dumbbell (there are obviously two) which saves a lot of space.  Basically, you simply turn a dial to select the weight you want and pull the weight up.  Only the weight you choose comes out of the base.  It is actually pretty cool.

How to Improve Your Running Time with Dumbbells

The key to workout with adjustable dumbbells in reference to improving running performance is to lift real

Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells

Breakout View of SelectTech System

heavy.  You want to be able to stimulate your muscles to get stronger and the best way to do that is to slowly build up the weight you lift over time.

You also want to focus on around 5 to 8 reps, meaning that by the end of those 5 to 8 reps you cannot possibly do another rep with good form.  Do this a couple of times a week and add additional weight once those 5 to 8 reps are getting too easy and you will get stronger.

Summary: For each dumbbell exercise, do 3 sets of 5 to 8 reps max.

That being said, you don’t need to fully take my word for how good these are nor how to workout with them.  You can see other people’s suggestions for how to use the dumbbells by reading the product reviews over at Amazon.com.

Which Exercises to Do

Here are the best exercises that runners can to to get faster at running:

  • Straight Leg Deadlift

  • Lunges

  • Squats

  • Dumbbell Rows

  • Bench Press

  • Lateral Dumbbell Raise

  • Calf Raise

Summary

So to sum up, I would recommend that any runner build in a strength component in to their running program.  This will both reduce risk of injury and also help you to run faster.  Stronger is better!

I purchased my set of adjustable dumbbells at Amazon as they were way cheaper than any store in my city or any other online retailer. Check out the current prices, and overall positive reviews, by going over to Amazon now.

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Posted by The Running Guy - January 15, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Categories: Improve Your Running   Tags: ,

How to Improve Running Time By Using the Airdyne Exercise Bike

I have drastically improved my running time by training on an Airdyne Exercise Bike. I have one of these bike both at home and the gym where I workout at and the benefits to my running performance have been very clear. Over the past year I have been able to cut my 10-K run time down by 3 minutes and my half-marathon down by 7 minutes.

If you think about how you train for your own races, you are probably doing most of your training is simply heading out to run. During these runs you may do drills, fartleks, hills, and sprints, all with the goal of improving your running time. That is fine as you get started, but as the miles add up over the week many runners risk injury and reduced performance Airdyne Exercise Bikebecause they don’t allow time for complementary exercises. That is where the Airdyne Exercise Bike comes into play. If you build a program with this bike into your running schedule you will see similar results that I have over a relatively short period of time.

The Key Benefits for Runners of the Airdyne Exercise Bike

The airdyne bikes are designed in a manner that will bring huge benefits to any runner. Here are a listing of what these benefits are:

  • Builds strength – because of the progressive resistance you get with the Airdyne you actual build leg and upper body strength during your workout
  • Effective cross-training exercise that works complementary muscles (quads and core) that will improve your running speed
  • Increase leg turnover speed due to the pedalling action that requires a consistent and steadily increasing level of resistance
  • Provides your whole body from a rest from the impacts brought on by running – the Airdyne bike provides a low impact workout that complements running nicely
  • Different from normal exercise bikes in that the resistance builds as you go faster – this forces you to progress in terms of both strength and cardio ability
  • Amazing cardio workout – I dare you to try to do at a steady pace on this thing for over twenty minutes!

How the Airdyne Works

The Airdyne exercise bike is designed differently than other exercise bikes. The main difference is the way it uses the resistance to provide you with the level of workout you need. There are no dials or knobs to twist! If you are anything like me I can be a bit lazy and on exercise bikes ALWAYS go with a lighter resistance Airdyne Exercise Bikethan I should.

Instead of using friction as its resistance mechanism, the Airdyne employs wind resistance. At the front of the bike there is a large fan that the user turns by using the pedals and pushes and pulls the handles. As you pedal and use the handles harder and faster the fan spins creating wind resistance. The fast your spin the harder it gets, and continuing at a pace that pushes you will build leg and upper body strength as well as cardio fitness.

If you do a program of 1 to 2 times per week supplementing your running workouts, your legs and upper body will get stronger and you will improve running time!

The Two Downsides of the Airdyne

There are only two downsides that I have come across with both my own and my gym’s bikes. The first is the noise. With the large fan spinning at a high rate it is loud. Not a problem if you don’t want to watch TV while you bike. I would suggest you focus on your workout and not watch TV, but that is my choice.

The second downside is that it does take some maintenance to keep it running smooth. You need to keep the chain oiled and ensure all the bolts are tight. This is easy to do and the manual covers it well, but just be aware.

A Sample Workout Routine to Supplement Your Running Program

I have found the best workout to complement my running program is a high intensity interval training (HIIT) program on the bike. Running is usually a long and steady type of workout so supplementing with HIIT is very valuable in that it allows for recruitment of different muscles and nervous system responses.Airdyne Exercise Bike This will make you a better runner.

Specifically, I either do a Tabata program or a longer HIIT interval. In Tabata, I go balls to the wall for 20 seconds and rest for 10 seconds and repeat this 20 times. By the time I am done I am spent – just be sure you actually go all out on the pedals and handles!

For the longer intervals I pedal hard for 30 seconds and rest for 30 seconds. This just breaks the workouts up and makes it more interesting.

Again, this type of training works different muscles and is very valuable to runners.

Amazon Reviews

I like to reference Amazon reviews to see how good a product really is. In fact, I encourage you to do the same. Click this Amazon link and you can see how many positive reviews the Airdyne Exercise Bike has. In fact, at the time of this writing there are 158 reviews with 144 of those a rating of either 4 or 5-stars. So don’t take my word for it.

Summary

If you are in the market for a piece of exercise equipment to improve your running and supplement your running program, then the Airdyne Exercise Bike is the best option.  You will get stronger and your cardio will go through the roof – mine has.  And, as stated earlier my times are better.

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Posted by The Running Guy - January 13, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Categories: Improve Your Running   Tags: