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When many people think of muscle strengthening exercises, the first thing that comes to mind is weight lifting. However, squats, bench press, and dumbbell curls are not the only one way to build muscle. Perhaps the most important muscle exercises for runners do not involve lifting weights, but rather only require contracting and releasing muscles, also known as “isometric exercises.”
Isometric exercises involve muscle activation techniques in which the joints do not move. Rather, specific muscles of the body are contracted and released, which causes muscle fatigue and will result in a growth of muscle mass.
These types of “static” exercises are a great way to work on weak muscle areas without putting unnecessary strain on joints. They are especially useful for correcting muscle imbalances in common problem areas including the back, hips, and quads. Here are some common isometric exercises for runners:
- Plank Bridge: Lay face down on the floor and prop yourself up on your forearms and toes. Try to flatten your back and hold for at least 20 seconds. Repeat three times. This is a great exercise for your core.
- Wall Squats: Lean your back against the wall and slowly lower into a squat so that your quads are parallel to the floor. Hold for at least 20 seconds and stand back up. Repeat 3 times. This exercise is great for the stabilizing muscles of your quads and hips
- Calf Raises: Stand on one leg and hold onto the back of a chair for balance. Stand on your toes and hold for at least 20 seconds. Repeat with the other leg. This is a great exercise for strengthening your calf muscles and preventing achilles tendinitis.
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