For runners, the onset of winter doesn’t have to mean cutting down on training. On the contrary, it’s a great time to reflect upon how to make your workout more efficient and put in place some great training that will stand you in good stead over not just the winter but also the coming year.
Complementing your running schedule with some leg workouts is one of the best ways to build strength and endurance. You can use hills or intervals outside, or you could head to the gym to make the most of hi-tech equipment designed with runners and athletes in mind.
LA Fitness gyms are great for treadmill intervals. Setting the treadmill to 0% or 1% is recommended for continuous running, but for intervals you might want to try it at 2%. Sprint for 30 seconds followed by 30 seconds walking. The short, sharp bursts of interval training helps improve both speed and cardiovascular fitness, boosting aerobic capacity and also fat loss.
Another way of using the treadmill is with alternate inclines, which mimic the natural landscape outside with its varying slopes and flat areas. Running on an incline gets your heart pumping quicker so it’s great for quick, intensive workouts. Try alternating between inclines of 5% and 7%, or higher if you’re up to it, changing the slope every minute.
You can also incorporate leg squats and lunges into your treadmill workout. These primarily work the quadriceps, but also benefits hamstrings, calves and glutes. This type of leg training is great for strengthening tendons and ligaments to decrease the risk of injury.
It’s not all about the treadmill. If you want to build up your leg muscles, then weight training is the way to go. Resistance machines typically use weights as the resistance, with various cables and pulleys to connect the user’s movements to the weights. Specific movements are usually required to control the weights. Resistance machines are great for focusing on specific muscle groups and, because they’re designed for precise movements, they’re good for teaching proper technique. Try out leg curl machines to work the hamstrings in isolation and seated calf raises (on a seated calf machine or leg press machine) for the calves (especially the soleus). Leg presses on a leg press machine and squats on a squat machine will work the upper thighs.
While gyms are great for treadmill intervals and working out on resistance machines, sometimes nothing beats joining a class. Many people find attending a class improves their motivation and makes exercising more fun, and LA Fitness has a great range of classes for runners to work their legs. Classes to get your blood pumping as you develop strength include circuits, step, body attack (an interval training inspired class) and boxercise, while body pump uses resistance techniques that focus on various muscles groups, including squats and curls for legs. Legs, bums and tums classes are conditioning sessions that focus specifically on those areas.