Running has always been my go-to for fitness. It’s such a great way to tune out the world and your thoughts and just focus on the sound of your heartbeat, your feet on the pavement, and an upbeat playlist. When you run you’re giving your whole body a workout. Normally I run with weighted bands on my ankles but there are ways to add onto your run to give it an extra boost without any equipment at all. Of course, you can add the ankle weights to give it even more, but don’t push yourself starting out.
One of the things I like to add are crossover lunges. During your run, slow enough that you’re not going to trip over yourself or twist your knee, and take a step to the side. One leg will remain planted and as straight as can be while the other bends into a squat position. Now when you do a crossover with the lunge, you want to make sure that the shoulders remain facing forward and that your body doesn’t twist with it. This exercise works the outer part of the thigh. Go as low as you can, step, and switch legs.
Now let’s blast those glutes since it’s summertime and nobody wants a saggy bikini butt. This starts off with a regular lunge, but then adds a kickback to it. If you’re doing this during your run, slow down, and go straight down into a lunge, making sure the weight stays in the heel. The back leg comes all the way down as low as you can and then, as you come up, shift your weight forward and kick your back leg back. So, you lunge down, kickback. Lunge down, kickback. Lunge down, kickback. As you lunge down, keep your shoulders back so you’re going straight down and not leaning forward, as you transfer your weight forward to kick back you can lean forward so you’re not falling over. Squeeze that butt to really push through!
As you’re running, you can always do a lunge, I even do it as I walk my dog up the hills in my neighborhood. Squeeze through the lunge and do it uphill for an extra push. Another favorite of mine is tiptoes. I used to run a mile every night on my tiptoes (no joke) for strengthening my calves and my ankles.
Running backwards, “retro running”, is also an easy and super beneficial add-on to your typical run. Running backward will strengthen the opposing muscle groups that you normally work when running forward. Forward running puts a lot of pressure on the hamstrings and knees. Backward running will strengthen your calves, quads and shins to balance your muscular strength. Did you know you also burn more calories running backwards? Going backward burns a fifth more calories than running forward. Not only is this great to enhance weight loss, but for those who are busy, going backwards burns more calories in a shorter period of time. Yes it requires more effort because it’s not a natural movement, but it also results in greater cardiovascular efficiency and increased stamina. With backward running, you will naturally keep your back straight as you move which improves posture and works your core abdominal muscles.
It’s a quick 10-20 minutes out of your day that has so many benefits both physically and mentally. So to (sort-of) quote the movie Forrest Gump: RUN, Darlings, RUN!