Think you need to hit the gym because it’s January? Think again. These at-home efficient body-weight exercises will have your glutes and core firing in no time. Endurance athlete, Pilates instructor, yoga teacher, and functional movement specialist Hayley McGowan recommends three exercises to strengthen stabilizing muscles for the trails. 

RELATED: Must-do strength exercises for trail runners

Photo: Marc Rafanell-Lopez

When we run, we want certain muscles to activate with each step. For example, when we step forward with our right leg, we want our left glutes to fire. Strengthening our glutes and core can help keep our hips stable, which is essential for trail running. Lateral stability helps us in running when the terrain gets more technical. When running on technical trails, especially on descents, lateral stability can protect our knees and help prevent injuries in other areas.

Side leg lifts. Photo: Hayley McGowan

1. Side leg lifts

Purpose: strength, stability, and mobility in hips and core. Bottom hip works in stability, while top hip works in mobility.
How to do it: Place bottom hip directly over bottom knee. Extend your pelvis fully by pushing your hips forward and keep both sides of your waist long. Place fingertips on the floor, using core to hold yourself upright. While maintaining this position, lift top leg off the floor. Imagine sliding your heel up a wall as you lift. 
Where to feel it: Should feel side of hip working, not in front. If you feel the front of your hip, pull top leg back more. Keep bottom glute and top thigh activated.
How much: 10 repetitions, holding the leg up for 30 seconds.

Single leg glute bridge with leg lifts. Photo: Hayley McGowan

2. Single leg glute bridge with leg lifts

Purpose: strengthens hamstrings, gluteus maximus, and gluteus medius (when knee is bent). Strengthens hip flexors and lengthens hamstrings (when knee is straight).
How to do it: Press into hands with shoulders rolled back and chest open. Lift hips with both feet on the floor. Lift one leg up to line up thighs. Keep hips level be squeezing bent legs and glute muscles. Maintain level pelvis and lift leg up straight with a flexed foot. Point toe and lower as low as you can without letting your pelvis move. Keep core activated to protect your spine. 
Where to feel it: hamstrings, glutes, and core
How much: start with 10 on each side, emphasizing perfect form.

3. Side plank with optional twist

Purpose: strengthens obliques (‘twisting ab muscles’), which are important for our spinal stabilizers and mobilizers. Obliques are key for supporting our entire body when running on uneven surfaces such as trails.
How to do it: Press into bottom hand while pressing down with feet to lift hips as high as possible. Place hand under shoulder and eye gaze to top hand. Lengthen your waist. Activate bottom glute to keep hips high and wrap shoulder blades back and down. Option to place top hand behind head and add a rotation of the ribs.
Where to feel it: Should feel side of hip working, not in front. If you feel the front of your hip, pull top leg back more. Keep bottom glute and top thigh activated.
How much: start with 10 on each side, emphasizing perfect form.

RELATED: Add strength to your running with bodyweight exercises

Report error or omission

Related

Leave a Reply