These resistance band workout suggestions cover the core areas of strength, stamina, joint health, flexibility and balance – all of which are vital areas for runners.
Resistance band training is ideal for runners, as it allows you to plan your workout to target specific areas of your physical health depending on your specific needs. So, if you’re a sprinter, you can concentrate more on building lower body strength; if you’re a road runner, you can look at strengthening your joints to better cope with impact stresses; or for long-distance runners, you can focus your workouts more on stamina training.
In this article we’ll look at five key areas where resistance band training can make a difference to runners, and help you hit that new personal best.
Using a high resistance band allows you to add significant muscle load to the exercises you do as part of your workout routine, building muscle mass and strength, which is especially important for sprinters and relay runners. Concentrate on the quads, glutes and calf muscles to develop explosive power, putting you at an advantage right off the blocks.
One exercise which targets all of these key muscle groups is the banded squat. While classic squats rely on your own body weight for resistance, banded squats allow you to work your muscles harder by using increasingly higher levels of resistance band as you develop greater strength.
Another ideal exercise to build strength is the hip flexor march, wrapping a hip circle band around the arches of both feet and bringing your knee up in a high step, alternating between legs. This is vital for strengthening the hip flexors, which provide drive through the knees when running.
For distance runners, using a lower resistance band with higher numbers of reps per lets you increase your stamina, which is a vital aspect of middle to long-distance running, enabling your body to more effectively supply nutrients to your muscles over a long period of exercise.
Exercises such as dead bugs can help to build stamina and strength. With a band looped around the arches of both feet, lie down on your back with your knees raised above your hips and bent at 90 degrees. Hold your arms straight out (vertically). Tense your core muscles and alternately kick out your right and then left leg, reaching back with the opposing arm on each kick.
As any runner knows, one of the most common areas of injury is in the joints – hips, knees and ankles are all vulnerable to damage from overuse or poor running form. Resistance band exercises enable you to target the muscle groups which support and protect each joint, giving you a much better chance of avoiding strains, sprains and inflammation.
Ankle dorsiflexion is an important exercise to prevent you from injury by rolling or spraining your ankles. Using a floor level anchor, sit on a gym mat with your leg straight out in front of you and the unanchored end of the band wrapped around the arch of your foot. Practice moving your toes up towards your shin, pulling against the resistance of the band.
Muscles, tendons and ligaments can all be overstretched during a run. To mitigate against causing long term damage, use resistance band training to improve your flexibility and range of movement by completing stretches and rotations to loosen up before hitting the track.
To stretch out your glutes and hamstrings, standing kickbacks are perfect. Anchor your band to a secure point at floor level, and standing in front of it, loop the other end around the arch of your left foot. Standing straight, move your foot back and up behind you with your knee slightly bent, before switching to the other foot.
Working out in a range of different positions using a resistance band is the perfect way to naturally build and hone your sense of balance and develop a healthy and athletic posture, which will allow you to make the best use of your strength, stamina and flexibility during a run.
One great exercise to develop balance, along with training your leg muscles and joints is the 4 points lateral walk. Start with your feet placed hip-width apart, and your resistance band looped around your mid thighs. Bend your knees and squat slightly to adopt an athletic stance. Take a sidestep to the right, stretching against the band, and then follow with your other foot. Keep your knees facing straight forward or slightly outward throughout.
Once you’ve completed about 15 steps to the right, repeat the exercise in reverse to lead with your left foot. Once you are back in your starting position, move the band to your knees and repeat the steps above. The third time, move the band to your ankles, and for the fourth time (hence the name “4 points lateral walk”), you should loop the band around the arches of your feet.
If you can incorporate some of the exercises above into your workout routine so that you are covering each of the five categories we mentioned, you’ll be well on your way to developing the all-round improvements you will need to keep developing as a runner and to stay safe from accidental or overuse injuries. Keep pushing for that new personal best!