In usual fashion, The Maple Grove Barefoot Guy inspired this post. Christian writes about the need for strong hips/ass as a prerequisite to good running form. I couldn’t agree more.
I’m a huge fan of strength training for runners as a form of crosstraining. I have an entire section of my book dedicated to weight training, I routinely recommend programs like Kemme Fitness and Crossfit, and I even support Christian’s seemingly ridiculous “train for an ultra by doing nothing but deadlifts” idea. The crosstraining Shelly and I do uses a lot of “ass-centric” exercises.
Pay attention to how runners run in your next race. Now look at their asses. Do this enough and you start to see a pattern. The best form is achieved by those runners with the best asses. Aesthetics alone can usually be used as a predictor of better form. Christian gives a great explanation of the reason behind this phenomenon in his post, so I’ll spare you the details.
Of course, there’s more to good form than just ass-building exercises. There ARE a few other things that have to be done to achieve good form, but they’re pretty simple.
Instead of covering the elements of good form, I’ll give you a few more options to achieve a great ass.
1. Run up and down hills. It’s no secret- We love running up and down hills. The bigger the better. It does wonders for building muscle along with motion-specific physiological adaptation. The best way to train for ultras is mountain running. It also promotes better form because it teaches efficient motion.
2. Walking lunges. Walking lunges (and their less-interesting sibling standing lunges) work pretty much all the important “running muscles.” I vaguely remember my kinesiology professor making a claim that walking lunges are one of the most complete exercises one can do. Once you get the basic motion down, spice them up by doing uphill/downhill lunges. Take it to the XXTREME level by doing them while carrying a slosh tube.
3. Bear Crawls. I have Pete Kemme to thank for this one. Shelly loves bear crawls. I hate them. Like any good marriage, we do a lot of compromising. I do bear crawls if she carries the slosh tube up and down hills. Even though I despise the exercise, it does wonders for the upper leg/hip muscles. For fans of strapless dresses, it’s a pretty good shoulder workout, too.
5. Squats. Squats can be either weighted or unweighted (air squats). I prefer air squats mostly because we don’t have an easy way to carry an Olympic barbell and bumper plates in our trailer, and they seem to be a little better crosstraining for endurance running. The key to air squats- good form. Many people do them incorrectly and end up jacking their knees. Try to keep your shins vertical throughout the range of motion.
There you have it- five exercises that will give you a great ass and lay the foundation to great form. As you can tell, Shelly has pretty damn good form.
How about you? Anyone else notice this correlation? Do you have a great ass? If so, I bet you also have pretty good running form. Should we create a “good form mosaic?”