I absolutely love to train my backside, so when I was recently asked to write a post about strength training for runners, I opted to talk about the importance of training your backside.
Glute activation and strength is extremely important for all of us, but especially runners. I came to learn this running in Costa Rica. Here, I have been exposed to many different outdoor terrains like running up the face of a mountain side or in the sand on the beach. Yes the views have been amazing, I can’t complain, however this different type of terrain has challenged my body. Running in the sand is much tougher than on a hard flat surface. Running up the face of a mountain is much more taxing than on the treadmill. These terrains forced me to become a stronger, fitter, and smarter runner.
In my quest to improve, I learned just how valuable glute strength training is to runners. Here are the tops reasons I believe runners should train their glutes:
1) Injury prevention
Strong glutes will protect you from pain and injury. Having a strong and stable pelvis (hip bone) is fundamental to good spinal health, proper movement patterns, and avoiding back pain and injury. The best way to protect and stabilize your pelvis is by having strong glutes.
When the glutes are weak or turned off, the joints around the hips, namely the lower back and the knee can take on a lot more stress. Left unchecked over time, this can lead to pain, or even worse, injury in those areas. If you suffer from lower back pain or knee pain it’s always a good idea to make sure your glutes are strong.
Unfortunately, flat surface running or jogging doesn’t activate the glutes that much. Therefore, in order to strengthen this area you need to proactively train your glutes with exercises like deadlifts, squats, lunges, and hip thrusts. Done with the correct form and with weights, these exercises will provide the strength in your glutes to prevent injury.
Strong glutes will help you run faster. Often times, runners believe the power in their stride comes from their calves and quads. Although those do play a role, they are minor compared to the role of your glute and hamstring muscles.
When you run, especially at higher speeds and at an incline, the power of your stride comes from hip extension. Hip extension is the act of driving your entire leg backward after it hits the ground. The glutes are the main muscle responsible for hip extension, so the stronger your glutes, the more powerful your stride becomes.
Strong Glutes Will Help Increase Your Metabolism. The glutes are the largest muscle group in the body, isn’t that cool? This means strengthening them not only creates functional strength for running and life, but also increases your metabolism.
Muscle is a more metabolically active tissue than fat, meaning it requires more energy to sustain itself. Therefore the more muscle you have the higher your caloric expenditure is each day, increasing your metabolism. In addition, when you train big muscle groups like the glutes you release various hormones into your body that help regulate blood sugar and promote fat burning in the body. When you go running, you don’t normally activate these hormones.
Combine this with healthy eating habits and you’ll be lean, strong, and running faster than ever. (If you need a resource for creating easy and tasty healthy meals, check out a meal prep guide here).
So, are you ready to train those glutes?
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