Start your week off right with our “anywhere” workout. A quick set of bursts you can do in the morning, add to your cardio routine, or use if you are beginning a fitness regime. With a different series each day of the week, you won’t get bored but you will get toned!
“There’s very good evidence” that high-intensity interval training provides “many of the fitness benefits of prolonged endurance training but in much less time,” says Chris Jordan, the director of exercise physiology at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Fla., and co-author of the new article.
Work by scientists at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and other institutions shows, for instance, that even a few minutes of training at an intensity approaching your maximum capacity produces molecular changes within muscles comparable to those of several hours of running or bike riding.
Interval training, though, requires intervals; the extremely intense activity must be intermingled with brief periods of recovery. In the program outlined by Mr. Jordan and his colleagues, this recovery is provided in part by a 10-second rest between exercises. But even more, he says, it’s accomplished by alternating an exercise that emphasizes the large muscles in the upper body with those in the lower body. During the intermezzo, the unexercised muscles have a moment to, metaphorically, catch their breath, which makes the order of the exercises important.
The exercises should be performed in rapid succession, allowing 30 seconds for each, while, throughout, the intensity hovers at about an 8 on a discomfort scale of 1 to 10, Mr. Jordan says. Those seven minutes should be, in a word, unpleasant. The upside is, after seven minutes, you’re done.
I love this workout! Quick enough to fit into any busy schedule, and it’s also intense enough to make sure you really do get your workout done in those 7 minutes. Just push through and finish strong, and those 7 minutes will be over in no time!!
Get Strong. It’s not uncommon for runners to acquire muscle imbalances that create more work for the body when we ask it to run or move (inefficiency). In fact, even runners that strength-train regularly can fall victim to muscle weakness if they’re not addressing the imbalances directly.
For example, prolonged sitting can cause the glute medius on both sides to weaken or shut off, causing instability and lateral shifting in the hips. This weakness hinders your running form via wasted lateral movement and can also cause overuse injuries like Iliotibial Syndrome and other issues down the chain.
The key is to not only include the typical functional multi-joint exercises for runners (squats, lunges), but to also include the more simple exercises (like the clam) that might not seem like they’re doing much but are helping you activate and strengthen a weak, inactive muscle. Here is a list of exercises that will help balance your body strength and better stabilize to run more efficiently with less wear and tear.
Planks (standard, mountain climbers, side plank raises)
Squats (single and double leg)
Row with resistance tube or weight
The Bridge (with both feet on the ground or single leg)
You can also find the IronStrength Workout for runners here or download my free Strength Workout for Runners for your smart phone here.
Get your power on. Adding plyometrics into your regular routine will boost strength and speed by improving the elasticity of the muscle via the stretch-shortening cycle. That is, when the muscle is stretched before an explosive contraction, like bending through the knee before a single leg jump, it contracts more powerfully and quickly.
Because these exercises are explosive in nature, it is best to weave them into your program after you have established a solid base of strength-training, once per week, and in rotation with your strength-training program. Perform these exercises after your runs to focus on good form, as performing plyometrics with sloppy form can quickly lead to injury. Here are three plyometric exercises for runners. By the way, plyometrics are a little like child’s play once you get the hang of it.
Power skips: Keeping your arms in running form, skip for a total of 20 on each leg, focusing on landing lightly on the balls of your feet and increasing the height of each skip.
Leg bounding: With an exaggerated running form, bound forward by jumping with each stride, focusing on an exaggerated knee lift for 20 seconds. Walk back to recover and repeat 2-3 times.
Squat jumps: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend into squat position with your hips back and knees bent. Tap the floor with your hands and jump up reaching your hands to straight over your head. Bend your knees as you land, touch the ground again, and repeat for 20 seconds.
Improve your stride rate. Your stride rate is simply the number of steps you take in a minute. To find it, count the number of strides on one foot for one minute and double it. The goal is to have a stride rate of around 180, or 90 per foot. If it’s much less (170) than that, it likely means you’re creating more vertical energy (oscillation), projecting more upward motion than forward, and you guessed it, wasting energy. It also means you’re employing braking forces with every stride rather than rolling quickly over the ground. The key is to practice patience while increasing your stride rate and decreasing the time you spend on the ground.
To improve your stride rate, you can run to a music mix at 180 bpm, invest in a metronome (musician’s timing device), or add the following drill to the beginning or end of your runs (it makes a great active warmup). Although this drill (and running with a faster cadence) may feel awkward at first, that just means you’re creating new neuromuscular patterns that will soon start to feel more natural. It’s important to note that when running to music or a metronome, it’s best to focus on taking shorter strides and increasing the cadence gradually. If your stride rate is 170, for example, you could set it to 174 and progress slowly from there.
Striders: On a flat straightaway, start running with short, quick strides. Gradually increase the length of your stride while maintaining quick turnover for 30 seconds. Slow down gradually, walk back to the start, and repeat a total of four to six times.
It’s important to remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and optimal running efficiency isn’t, either. The good news is a little time invested with these exercises can make a significant difference in your running performance down the road.
¾ cup spelt flour (Readers have reported success with Arrowhead Mills gf as well.) (120g)
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp dutch cocoa powder (30g) (Regular cocoa is fine; the Oreo cookies just won’t taste as authentic.)
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp xylitol or sugar (or coconut sugar) (78g)
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ cup vegetable or coconut oil (44g)
3 tbsp milk of choice (45g)
2 tbsp pure maple syrup (or agave) (30g)
½ cup peanut butter (or allergy-free alternative) (110g)
½ cup coconut butter (For a coconut-free version, see “nutrition info” link below) (110g)
¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
stevia extract to taste, or ¼ cup powdered sugar
Combine first 5 ingredients, and stir very well. In a separate bowl, combine all liquid ingredients for the cookies. Mix wet into dry to form a dough, then refrigerate 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Put dough in a plastic bag, and smush into one big ball. Remove from bag, roll into a thin dough, and cut flat circles using a circle cutter or a circle-shaped lid. Bake on a greased cookie tray for 11-14 minutes (depending on whether you want softer or crispier cookies). They’ll still look a little underdone when they come out of the oven, but that’s ok. Important: allow to cool 10 minutes before removing from the tray.
For the filling: first make sure your coconut butter is softened. Mix all filling ingredients in a small food processor (or very patiently with a fork, if you must. Texture might be a bit crumbly if you mix by hand; be sure to start with softened peanut butter). Divide filling among half of the cookie discs, then top with remaining cookie discs and fridge so filling firms up. Makes 20-25 sandwich cookies, depending on the size of your circle cutter and whether or not you bother to re-roll all the dough.
Peanut Butter Oreos: Calories and Nutrition Information
Weight Watchers Points Plus: 2 points
Information above, calculated via caloriecount.com, is for two chocolate wafer cookies stuffed with filling in between.
If you do use the coconut version, the peanut butter masks any trace of coconut flavor. However, if you need a coconut-free version for any reason, use this recipe for the filling:
½ cup peanut butter (or allergy-friendly alternative)
Process first three ingredients together until super smooth. Add a little milk of choice only as needed to thin it out. Adding too much will make the filling gummy. If you must, you can technically cream this together by hand. It just takes a lot of stirring to get it smooth!