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An Elaboration on Consistency

“Marked by harmony, regularity, or steady continuity; free from variation or contradiction.”

Merriam-Webster Definition of Consistent

Attain Wellness works with many different types of people, from all walks of life, with all different kinds of wellness goals. And one of the biggest measures and markers of attaining most goals boils down to one main factor: consistency.

Aside from movement (and nutrition) quality, intensity, variety, recovery, and more, all of those things don’t matter if you aren’t consistent. If you aren’t consistent, you’ll never be steadily workings towards whatever goal you have. But when it comes to consistency, and developing a lifestyle that naturally incorporates your wellness goals into your life, this word can have many meanings. 

Similarly, depending on the specific goal you have, it might require you to have different levels of consistency at any given time. True, while in definition, consistency means free from variation or contradiction, there can be changes in levels of consistency needed for each person, during a given time. 

This article’s main objective, however, is to address one fundamental point:

Consistency does not mean daily.

Even in its definition, consistent is described as regular and steady. There are no rules, clauses, or additional definitions that describe consistency with a daily requirement. 

In the context to health, requiring yourself to change your lifestyle from not participating in certain exercise activities or nutritional activities at all, and suddenly putting a daily requirement on yourself can be rather jarring and difficult to manage, especially if you are starting from scratch.

For most people we work with, daily exercise consistency, specifically, can cause more setbacks than progress. Sometimes in the physical sense, but almost always in the mindset. 

Finding even 30 minutes to yourself during the day can be hard enough, and when you put pressure on yourself to exercise every day, it can cause shifts in schedule that are only realistic or easy in the short term, and soon after you begin this routine you might shift your way back into only exercising a few days a week, or in some cases, back to none at all. 

This can create a mentality of failure and discouragement, and it can even prevent us from wanting to try to incorporate exercise into our routine in a different way in the future. If we know we tried this before, and couldn’t keep up with it, why would we want to try it again?

“It just doesn’t fit into my schedule…”

But have you considered that your goal wasn’t set properly in the first place? SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound) have an extremely important characteristic to them – they are attainable and realistic. Going from moving zero days a week to 7 days a week for most people isn’t attainable nor realistic. If you fall into this category, try to start again and take an honest look at your schedule and current routine, and see where consistent exercise can fit into your schedule, and plan out for a specific amount of time into the future. Not just, “next week I’ll…”

Remember: consistency means regular.

If you are able to keep a regular exercise schedule of even once a week, but do so for a few months, you’ve now consistently incorporated exercise into your life. 

The best part about this, is, once we are consistent and it becomes part of our lifestyle, we then get to see if and how we’ve reached our goals. Is there room for, or a need to, try and incorporate a consistent second day of exercise? Is this realistic? If so, repeat this process and treat it like you did for the first day. 

Because you have already added the consistency of exercising one day a week, this second day can be thought of as only adding in “one” day of exercise, it shouldn’t be thought of as: “Now I need to try and find TWO days to exercise!?”, because you already consistently exercise one day a week – that is now a part of your life – so this second day is no different than the first.

Starting slow, incorporating consistent habits into your lifestyle, then building upon them is almost always the more effective strategy for creating a new routine or establishing a new habit (or even breaking an old one). 

It should also be mentioned, now, that when it comes to exercise, daily exercise isn’t often necessary, and might prevent you from performing at your best for each workout due to fatigue and under recovery. Depending on your goal, daily movement or activity might be required, but when we work with Attainers with those needs, there is always a very specific strategy for incorporating daily exercise, where certain days are more intense, while others are lighter or shorter, or maybe only focus on mobility training that isn’t heavily taxing on your body. This keeps injury risk down, while still being able to incorporate maximum levels of exercise. 

If you perform the same (or similar) levels of high intensity exercise every day, proceed with caution, and take a look at how you have trended toward your goals. 

Is this getting you closer to your goal? If not, then more exercise isn’t the answer since you are already performing it daily. 

Begin to look into the intensity you bring to each workout. Do you feel recovered and ready to perform at maximum intensity and quality every workout? Would one day off to recover lead to better form, better mindset, and greater strength for your next workout? Is your nutrition being monitored, where a day of rest from the gym but a day of quality nutrition would better serve your goals?

Depending on your goal and where you are starting, generally speaking, any amount of exercise, or any little amount more of exercise is going to positively impact your overall health. But it is extremely important to keep in mind that for some, there is an upper limit to what our bodies can tolerate, both in order to recover and in order to safely progress.

Thinking that consistency = daily when it comes to exercise can have adverse effects on our minds and our bodies, which can have repercussions that last much long after we first decided that we needed to exercise every day. 

Staying Motivated While Quarantined

For most of us, it wasn’t too long ago that some level of movement was required, regardless of whether or not it was intentional, to get through the day. Traveling to and from work required getting ready; hopping on the car, train, or bike; and walking to and from the office. 

Since state-issued quarantines, however, home and the workplace have become essentially synonymous. This blending of environments has promoted more sedentary lifestyles. Aforementioned commutes have been reduced to moving from your bedroom to your home’s office or living room. And let’s be honest – sitting down is comfortable, and the bed you sleep in is just around the corner.

As sedentation becomes more and more likely, motivation may understandably start to wane. In lieu of exercise or going outdoors, one may opt for a nap. Done sparingly, this isn’t the worst thing (everyone loves a good nap). But letting quarantine limit movement can potentially undo healthy habits that were established beforehand. 

So what can we do to motivate ourselves to move during a time in which rest is substantially more accessible than staying active?

  1. Don’t punish yourself for taking a rest day.

Having a motive means having “something…that causes a person to act.” (merriam-webster.com)

By that definition, someone can absolutely have motivation for taking a rest day. Maybe that afternoon meeting with your team drained you. Maybe you pulled an all-nighter the day before to complete a project. Maybe the kids are being a bit too rambunctious and need your undivided attention. Whatever the reason, resting in and of itself is necessary. 

Problems may arise when resting seems to become less of a solution and more of a part of your daily routine. Are you resting because you’re genuinely fatigued and need to recharge, or because you don’t know how else to spend your time?

The key here is to have a reason to rest. Whatever that reason is, use it to hold yourself accountable when choosing between rest and movement.

  1. Engage in activities that you enjoy.

Think of an activity that you love. Is that activity accessible to you while in quarantine?

It’s a harsh reality that some activities we enjoy doing (e.g. swimming, organized sports, going to the gym) are inaccessible because of quarantine measures. Having these activities stripped away entirely can not only impact our routines, but affect how motivated we are to stay active. It is not a well-kept secret that we are motivated to do the things we like.

Finding alternatives for those activities that can either replicate or substitute them is vital. Let’s take basketball for example, a relatively accessible sport. All you need are shoes, a ball, and a hoop. But in a quarantine, finding an open court (let alone others to play with) is hard to come by. An alternative to shooting around can be to work on dribbling if you’re by yourself, or passing if someone you are living with is available.

Some other examples:

  • Ball sports: play catch in the yard; use cones or markers for individual drills
  • Swimming: dry land exercises to improve overall strength
  • Weight lifting: body weight workouts with household objects

It’s also important to recognize that there is no better time than now — when we may not have access to the activities we love — to try new activities. These new activities do not have to replace the old ones entirely, but can act as a substitute in the interim. Light running, hiking, and online classes are just some of the activities available to you if you are looking for something new to try.

Staying motivated will be easier if we are able to keep doing the activities we love. Find alternatives to these activities that can let you continue to enjoy them while in quarantine, or try something new and see how you like it!

  1. Engage in activities at a time that works best for you.

Before the quarantine, most work schedules could only  accomodate a morning or night workout. And although training at the lunch-hour is possible, you may be limited depending on your training preferences. 

Now that travel time has been greatly reduced (if not eliminated altogether), it is time to reflect on the time of day we choose to workout. Is that early, 5:30 AM workout really your preference, or is it out of necessity? Do you still feel rushed to fit in your workout between the end of work and dinner?

Being honest with ourselves about when we like to workout out will allow us to stay motivated to train consistently. If you don’t have to make a sacrifice to workout, such as waking up early or rushing through it, you might develop a better relationship with exercise. The newfound excitement around exercising being something you can look forward to as opposed to something that feels forced will likely result in more energy and enthusiasm during the training session (or even sessions!).

  1. It’s okay to change your mind.

Routines are great because they promote consistency. Consistency allows us to get into a rhythm that will help us feel in control of our lives and motivated to continue engaging in activities. But what if we start to realize that we aren’t as motivated to continue with the routines we had before (or even during) the quarantine?

It’s important to recognize that your preferences and what motivates you will change. And that’s fine. Let there be a natural ebb and flow to your likes and dislikes. If you commit to certain activities just because they have always been a part of your routine, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment when those activities no longer bring you the same joy. And again: all because an activity doesn’t bring you joy now doesn’t mean it won’t in the future.

Think of movement as a journey on which you are free to move about. The journey can be never ending if you allow yourself to not be rooted in one place.

Final Thoughts

The big takeaway from all of this is simple: do the things you love and establish routines that work for you. Not every training session or bit of physical activity needs to be arduous. We are allowed to have highs and lows while confined to our homes. And you are allowed to experiment, to try new things. You never know what new things you might discover about yourself and what truly motivates you.

Opinion: The Dangers of Fitness Trackers

“How many calories did you burn?” 

This is often a question you get from your workout buddy or hear after your group fitness class.

Smart watches and fitness/activity trackers have taken over the industry by storm. It seems as though everyone in a fitness class or on a run is wearing a smartwatch or activity tracker. And for great reason — they can track your mileage, heart rate, intensity, duration, and a few other key metrics depending on the make and model.

There’s no denying that these little devices can boost motivation, add accountability, and provide a fun social experience to fitness when you compete and share your activity with your friends. 

But here’s the problem: None of these trackers measure quality.


Quality can be measured in many different ways. Depending on your goal or perspective, a quality workout might simply mean a certain caloric burn, a certain amount of miles run or biked, or reaching a target heart rate.

But those are response-based metrics. They’re a result of activity independent from what you are actually doing. Burning calories happens for all types of movement, it’s not specific to a particular activity.

Sure, you can often select the type of workout you’re doing with these trackers which may measure your workout slightly differently for each, but that said, these internal measures are not based whatsoever around your movement quality. They’re predominantly related to your heart rate measurement, and some mathematical calculations based on your input height and weight.

Movement quality is measured by fluid mobility through a range of motion in joint systems, proper form and activation of muscle groups when performing specific exercises, stability of your joints, etc.

A 45-minute, high intensity workout might burn over 300 calories, to which your watch will say: “Great work!” Which is great, especially if it fits your goal(s). Moving more in any capacity is always a good thing. But as we push ourselves a little harder, as our frequency of exercise increases, fitness trackers will still give you the same data points. From body-weight squats during your first fitness class, to loaded squats with 100lbs of weight on your back, the scope of your data will still be limited to (more or less) calories burned, duration, heart rate. 

But what about what’s happening outside of your workout intensity? Do the data points accurately measure the progress you’ve made towards your goals, or do they seem disconnected? 

For example, if your goal is to gain strength, you might not appear to be burning many calories during your workout. Strength training workouts do not elicit the same response as, say, a circuit training class, because your heart rate will stay relatively low. If you look at your watch after a strength session and see that you only burned 250 calories, this could concern or even demotivate you.

A key component of strength training, however, is movement efficiency, or learning optimal movement patterns to generate the most force. Are you expressing movement quality or proficiency during your circuit training or strength training class?


If you’re trying to chase calories and want to get as many reps in as you possibly can to get the highest calorie burn, you might just be one rep closer to an injury.


This isn’t to paint some doomsday scenario or use scare tactics to convince you to stop paying attention to your fitness trackers. Because they in fact can be extremely helpful tools as outlined when it comes to motivation, social engagement, daily movement and general activity tracking, and more. 

Put simply, as the emphasis on exercise and daily activity continues to grow, we must become wary of the adverse side effects of exercising with faulty movement patterns – as they do actually exist in a very real way. Injury through repeated stress, adverse muscular adaptation and imbalances, and a whole host of other risks are associated with poor movement quality, which is something your fitness tracker does not track or take into account. 

It’s true, moving more will almost always produce a positive result, but begin to look a bit deeper than your heart rate and your calories burned.

Redefine what it means to have a “good workout.”

If you’re tired one day and your watch tells you for the same workout you did last week, you burned a hundred fewer calories, don’t let that discourage you or make you believe that was a bad workout. 

If you focus on movement quality, work within your limits for each day, and exercise at all in the first place, you are on your way to a happier and healthier life, regardless of what your fitness tracker says.

Goal Setting

Overview

In this article, we discuss SMART goals, specifically what they are and how to make them. Will walk you through an example that illustrates how SMART goals are helpful, and why you should make sure that every goal you set is a SMART goal. 

Goal Setting

“What are your goals?” is a question nearly everyone asks each other around New Year’s Eve, and it is one of the many questions we ask during our Attainer Assessments. 

Goals provide us with a sense of direction. Where do we want to go? How will we get there? Having an end goal in mind is the first part of any new journey. Without them, you are sure to get lost. 

Let’s compare goal setting to a cross-country trip. Imagine you are traveling by car from New Jersey to California. That’s a 43-hour journey. Are you going to make this trip in one shot, or will you take stops along the way?

Long-term Goals

The long-term goal in this example is to reach California. It is the final destination of your journey. 

Short-term Goals

If you are able to drive 43 hours without stopping, I applaud you. If not, you’ll need to hit some checkpoints throughout your journey to help you manage your trip to Cali. Think of these “checkpoints” as short-term goals.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Why would it be ill-advised to make a cross country trek in one 43-hour car ride? Well, you might get hungry, thirsty, and/or start to doze off from lack of sleep. All of these things may halt your progress, or worse, make you cancel the trip altogether. 

But you love the idea of getting to California! It’s something you’ve wanted to do for a long time and you want to make the trip happen. It’s best for you to come up with a plan to make the trip more manageable to help you fulfill this dream of yours. This is where SMART goals come into play!

When we ask new Attainers what their goals are, we reframe them to be SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Bound.

Specific

“I want to get to California,” is not a specific goal. In how many days will it take you to get to California? What time of year are you taking this trip? 

Let’s make this goal more specific. “In July, I will drive 43 hours over a seven day period to California.” 

Measurable

Is this goal measurable? Forty-three hours in seven days is an average of six hours a day. So yes, this goal is measurable! After each day you can track how many hours you’ve driven and see if it is higher or lower than the average.

Attainable

Are you equipped to make this 43-hour trip? If you don’t have a license, the answer would be no. But if you do have a license, you are legally allowed to make this trip!

The other question we have to ask is if you have a seven-day break in July. If there is no break in your schedule that lasts seven days, you’ll not be afforded the time you need to make your trip to California.

Realistic

Let’s say you do have a license and a break equal to seven days. Great! The next question is whether or not you can drive six hours a day. 

Have you ever driven six hours in one day before? If the answer is no, a six-hour drive may seem daunting, especially considering that you’d have to do it for seven days straight.

Time Bound

You’ve allotted yourself seven days to make this trip — that much is clear. However, how much time have you allotted yourself to prepare for this trip? Are you doing this spur of the moment? Or is this a trip you’re going to take in three months? If you are well prepared (e.g. know where’ll you’ll stop, budget appropriately, make arrangements as needed, etc.), the chances of having a successful trip increase.

With this in mind, let’s make an addition to the SMART goal: “In five months, I will drive 43 hours over a seven day period in the month of July to California.”

Now that’s a SMART goal.

SMART Goals and Short-Term Goals

Now that we have a SMART goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound, we can use short-term goals to appropriately measure our progress. 

In the five months leading up to the trip, a checklist of all the supplies you’ll need to get and arrangements you need to make can be created. 

Sample Checklist

Supplies

*Toothbrush

*Clothes

*Wallet

*Car

*Money for gas

*Food

*Water

*Phone (with GPS)

*Phone Charger

There’s definitely more we can add to this list, but getting all the items on your travel checklist would be a short-term goal. Completing this short-term goal gets you one step closer to making this trip to California!

Now for the arrangements:

Sample Checklist

Arrangements

*Reserve car for seven days

*Schedule vacation days for the duration of the trip

*If traveling alone, inform friends/family of destination + stops

*Reserve hotel rooms by locations where you’ll rest

Again, more can be added to this list, but making all of these arrangements is at least another measure of how prepared you’ll be for the trip, and it’s something we can count as another short-term goal.

Once you are on the trip, destinations you plan to stop at after each six-hour trip can also serve as short-term goals. In other words, the states in which you stop become checkpoints, markers of your progress so far. This way, the trip can be viewed as a combination of shorter trips (as opposed to one long one), which is far less intimidating. 

Application to Health and Wellness

The example above is not a SMART goal related to health and wellness, but we can use the same strategy when planning our health and wellness goals. 

With the new year in full swing, take a look at the goals you set for yourself. Are they SMART goals? If not, how can they be modified to look more like a SMART goal?

Send us a DM on Instagram or Facebook, or email us with your New Year’s health and wellness goals, and will help you construct a SMART goal!

Running Form 101: Part 2

Posture

This is the second article in a three-part series on running form analysis. In this article, I analyze Attain Wellness Head Strength Coach Ben Ilaria’s running form. 

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Although running is the most accessible sport to humans (in some cases, runners don’t even need shoes), it is by no means an easy sport. Proper running form is critical to performance, much like how a golfer’s swing dictates whether the golf ball lands on the green or in the water. 

So what exactly does proper running form look like?

Posture

Running is a forward motion, and your posture plays a critical role in maintaining forward momentum. Thanks to the forces of gravity, a slight forward lean is all it takes to carry your momentum forward. 

In the picture above, Ben demonstrates a good forward lean. The vertical green line indicates the tilt of his torso, while the horizontal green line shows that instead of having anterior tilt, his hips are in a neutral position. So what is causing this forward lean? The answer lies in what’s happening further down the body.

Try this test out. Stand tall somewhere with cushioned space in front of you. Gradually start leaning forward without tilting your hips, and try to keep your whole foot on the ground. If performed correctly, you should start to feel that your forward lean is initiated by a tilt at the ankle joint, not the hips.

Observe the orange circle at the bottom of the image. Notice how the longer leg has an anterior tilt while the foot (inside the orange circle) is still in contact with the ground. When the push-off leg is straightened to begin the next gait cycle, we should be able to draw a straight line (the orange line in the image) from the ankle joint to the shoulders.

An anterior pelvic tilt can be a sign of a weak core and tight hips. Both a weak core and tight hips can negatively impact your running efficiency by causing breakdowns in form. A strong core is needed for stability, while mobile hips allow runners to increase their stride length (which is a component of running speed). 

Below are exercises and stretches you can do to strengthen your core and loosen your hips.

Core Strength (Anti-Flexion): A core-strengthening exercise is the Front-Loaded Walking Lunge. Although the quadriceps are the primary movers, core strength is still required to maintain stability throughout the movement. 

This exercise helps strengthen the core muscles to resist flexion because of how the weight is distributed. Since the weight is towards the front of your body, you have to maintain an upright posture to avoid falling forward. A strong core allows you to keep that upright position.

This exercise is also more accessible than the Front Squat, which requires far more total-body mobility. Either dumbbells, kettlebells, or a barbell can be used as the load at the front of your body — whichever is most comfortable for you based on your ability. If you cannot perform the exercise with weight, start with bodyweight and focus on keeping an upright posture. 

How to perform the Front-Loaded Walking Lunge:

  1. Grab a dumbbell, kettlebell, or barbell; rack the weight on your shoulders
  2. Take a step forward and get into a lunge position. Make sure that your front foot stays completely on the ground. (Much has been made of how your knee should be positioned in relation to your foot — as long as your whole foot remains on the ground, you will have performed a successful rep. However, always try your best to keep your knee stacked over your ankle or midfoot).
  3. Pushing through your front foot, raise yourself back up and bring your back foot to meet your front foot. (To increase the difficulty of the exercise, instead of bringing the back foot to meet the front foot, go right into the next lunge).
  4. Continue alternating legs for 8-12 reps on each leg. 
  5. Repeat for three sets.

Tight Hips: Tight hips inhibit knee drive when running. Although high knee drives are associated with sprinting, long distance runners should still have the capacity to get their knees up high. After all, speed is a product of stride frequency and stride length, and if you want to increase stride length, you need to increase your knee drive. 

Keeping your hips loose will promote their mobility. Proper warmups and cool downs are a great time to stretch muscle and avoid hip tightness. 

The Quadruped Hip Extension and Pigeon Pose are great exercises for keeping the hips loose. Although the Quadruped Hip Extension actively targets the glutes, it passively stretches the hips throughout the movement, which makes it a great move at the beginning of your dynamic warmup. The Pigeon Pose directly targets the hips and allows you to get a deep stretch.

How to Perform the Quadruped Hip Extension:

  1. Start in a table top position.
  2. Keeping your leg bent at a 90 degree angle, lift one leg at a time up towards the ceiling (or sky if your outside).
  3. Hold this position for two-three seconds, then lower back to the starting position
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 on the opposite leg.
  5. Alternate until you have performed 8-12 reps on each leg.
  6. Repeat for three sets.

How to perform the Pigeon Pose:

  1. Get into a high plank position (yoga plank).
  2. Draw your right knee to your chest and invert your leg so that your right foot comes as close to your left hand as possible.
  3. Sink your hips into the ground. Extend your arms forward to get an even deeper stretch.
  4. Hold for 20-30 seconds).
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 on the opposite leg.
  6. Repeat for 2-3 sets depending on your level of hip tightness. 

Incorporate these exercises into your warmup and cool down routines to promote core strength and hip mobility so that you can maintain a proper forward tilt. 

Remember: your forward lean should be initiated at the ankle joint. Tilting at the hips can be a sign of a weak core and tight hips, and negatively impact running performance.

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This was Part 2 of our Running Form 101 series. Keep an eye out for Part 3 to find more ways to improve running form and become a more efficient runner!

Running Form 101: Part 1

Toe Out

This is the first article in a three-part series on running form analysis. In this article, I analyze Attain Wellness Head Strength Coach Ben Ilaria’s and my running form.


Although running is the most accessible sport to humans (in some cases, runners don’t even need shoes), it is by no means an easy sport. Proper running form is critical to performance, much like how a golfer’s swing dictates whether the golf ball lands on the green or in the water.

So what exactly does proper running form look like?

Leg Positioning

After reading this sentence, stand up and walk around, looking down at your feet the entire time.

Were your feet pointing forward? Out? In?

Your knee wants to point in the direction that you’re moving. Your feet, ideally, should be pointing in the same direction. That said, walking is an activity that produces minor impact forces; force exerted on the knee will be minimal.

Running, on the other hand, produces higher impact forces. If your knee and foot are pointing in separate directions, it will produce too much external rotation of the lower leg, causing tears in the medial meniscus tendon (referred to as “runner’s knee”). (Breakwater) To prevent this injury when running, it is important to make sure that your knee and foot are pointed forward.

Ben
Paul

Examine the pictures above. What do you notice?

The pictures above show Ben (left) and I (right) immediately after the toe-off phase of the gait cycle. Ben’s right foot is toeing out, whereas mine is straight. If Ben’s foot positioning were to stay the same throughout the gait cycle, he might start to develop runner’s knee.

Upon further observation, however, we notice that Ben actually strikes the ground with a forward-facing foot. Additionally, his knee and foot are pointed in the same direction. So what’s happening?

The answer lies in the hips: either hip tightness (which can cause tibia torsion), or Ben has retroverted hips. (Gonser)

Hip Tightness: Hip extensor muscles (muscles activated by the back leg in both pictures) are made up of the semimembranosous, semitedinosus, bicep femoris, and gluteus maximus. If your job requires you to sit for long periods of time, your hamstrings can become tight.  The standing hamstring stretch can help the hamstrings return to a lengthened position, promoting internal rotation of the leg back to center.

How to perform the standing hamstring stretch:

  1. Find an elevated surface; place one foot on the elevated surface
  2. Maintain a straight back and elevate your chest by rotating your shoulders backward
  3. Tilting at the hips, reach towards the elevated foot
  4. Hold for 30 seconds; repeat on opposite leg

Standing Hamstring Stretch

If performed correctly, you will feel a stretch in the back of your thigh.

Retroverted Hips: Some people are born with retroverted hips. Retroverted hips refers to a phenomenon where the thigh bone or pelvis are naturally rotated backwards. (Gonser) To ask someone to turn in their foot can cause more harm than good. Instead, it is recommended to promote a midfoot or forefoot strike and strengthen the muscles throughout the core to promote stability. The pawback drill and plank variations are great exercises to help improve in these areas.

How to perform the pawback drill:

  1. Stand tall next to a fence, wall, or other support
  2. Raise your inside leg up so that your thigh is parallel to the ground
    1. Your leg should be bent at a 90 degree angle at the knee
  3. Lower your leg towards the ground, extending it throughout so that it is straight when it makes contact with the ground
    1. As your foot strikes the ground, drag it back it along the ground to stimulate glute and hamstring activation
  4. Begin the next rep by contracting your hamstring and raising your leg back to the starting position

How to perform a plank:

  1. Get into a pushup position with grounded feet and hands underneath your shoulders
  2. Engage the muscles of the “core,” which include the glutes, abdominals, and obliques
  3. Hold for 30-45 seconds
  4. If this variation is easy to perform, move support from the hands to the elbows
    1. Additionally, the side plank variation targets the obliques
Yoga Plank
Forearm Plank

Incorporate these exercises in your pre and/or post-workout routines. Additionally, if you work a desk job perform the standing hamstring stretch at least two times a day to counteract the shortening effects of sitting and to promote internal rotation of the leg back to the center position.


This was Part 1 of our Running Form 101 series. Keep an eye out for Parts 2 and 3 to find more ways to improve running form and become a more efficient runner!

Citations:

Gonser, Steve. “Why Do I Toe Out When I Run?” RunSmart Online, 3 Apr. 2016, runsmartonline.com/articles/efficiency/why-do-i-toe-out-when-i-run/.