I asked for questions on my Facebook page, Nick Adams Fitness, for this column. I had great feedback so I decided to do a Q&A. If you want more detailed answers, contact me on Facebook, Gmail or schedule with me at Nautilus Fitness Center.
Q: How to increase endurance and speed for runners?
A: Strength training is a must. The goal is to get you the strongest running body possible and strength training is the way to do it. You can train year-round, and just scale back when you’re coming up to race day so you aren’t cutting into your performance and recovery. You need to be doing exercises that offer the most carryover to running, so focus on exercises that will make you use your body as a single unit, just like when you run.
Squats, deadlifts, lunge variations, pushups and pull-ups all come into play. You need your back and shoulders to be just as strong as your legs and core when you run. You can’t neglect anything. Single leg variations of exercises are just as important and will help you with stability. Some examples would be single leg split squats and single leg deadlifts. My clients have had success keeping their repetitions to 5 and on the single leg variations anywhere in the 8-12 range. Remember not to neglect your core, so any core exercise hold for 30-60 seconds.
This brings us to the speed component and for this the answer is simple: movements. Jump squats, frog jumps, bounding and high-knees are just some examples of movements you need to incorporate. These will work more of the fast twitch fibers and help to add that extra burst of speed.
Q: What are good low-impact exercises for back pain?
A: First and most important, go to your doctor before starting any program and make sure your back pain isn’t a back injury. You can work through pain, but with an injury you need specific rehabilitation before starting any sort of program. Be smart about what you do in the gym and have the most information possible before starting anything new.
Once you have that covered, you need to stay active and keep moving. Aerobic exercise is low-impact and a great way to help alleviate back pain: anything from walking, stationary bike, stair step machine to water therapy. Stay active, stay functional and you will allow yourself to control your weight and lose weight, which will take pressure and stress off of your spine and joints. Stabilization exercises such as planks, bridges, hip and leg extensions, pelvic tilts are where you need to start. Once you have that stability, you can start on a training program.
I had a question about youth strength training and the most important thing is to keep it fun — correct form, bodyweight exercises to build up strength and coordination. The carryover will be immediate. One of my younger athletes just placed third at state in shot put!