For those that pick up the sport of running later in life (AKA past high school as far as I’m concerned), there are a lot of terms you come to hear, speak of and then eventually understand.
At first, running is really just about finding a good pair of supportive shoes and heading out the door. Then you’re likely to get sucked into the world of running gear and gadgets to eventually find yourself spouting off words and phrases like “cadence” and “stride” curious about what you can do to improve your performance and PR the crap out of your next goal race.
I started out much of the same way and recently I had one of my clients at Strength In Motion Studio approach me and ask me what she can do to increase her running stride. Little did she know, we’ve been incorporating a lot of exercises into our warmups, workouts and finishers that actually do just that.
When you break it down, running speed is produced when you multiply your stride frequency by your stride length. A lot of this has to do with how strong you are and the power that your legs are capable of producing but all comes down to your mobility.
Simply put, if you aren’t mobile then you’re not really moving. If your hips are tight then you’re restricted in your range of motion. In order to increase your range of motion and open up those hips there are a variety of things you can do, starting with incorporating these Ultimate Sandbag exercises into your warm up.
I bet you’re looking at these and thinking….I could do those Ultimate Sandbag exercises without the Ultimate Sandbag and while you’re not wrong, you also wouldn’t be getting the MOST out of the drill if you did it with bodyweight alone.
Let’s break it down why these Ultimate Sandbag exercises work so well!
Alone, the half kneeling position is all sorts of amazing. Not only is is great for improving core strength but it really helps to highlight where your weaknesses are. Unlike standing or being the in the Tall Kneeling Position, compensating imbalances becomes a lot harder.
Ultimate Sandbag exercises like Press Outs takes the Tall and Half Kneeling a step further as it helps to not only improve flexibility in the hips but also activate the glutes and lats teaching the body to work together to produce force.
You can also take it a step further by progressing Ultimate Sandbag exercises to the Half Kneeling Arc Press which really challenges the body due to the instability of the position and the Ultimate Sandbag. More importantly, it also helps to produce a more effective hip flexor stretch.
Keys to performing the Half Kneeling Press Out/Arc Press: Assume the half kneeling position with the shoulders stacked directly over the hip of back leg and knee with the front knee at a 90 degree angle. Tag your back toe so that it engages with the ground, maintaining a neutral pelvis and spine. Press the Ultimate Sandbag out vertically while maintaining tall posture and slowing bring it back into the chest. Watch compensations such as leaning forward and widening lead leg stance.
The other stretch that you can incorporate into your warm up to increase running stride is the hip bridge. Technically speaking, we should have started with this first since we always work from the ground up – so if you were to incorporate these into your warmup routine then definitely start with the hip bridge and progress to the half kneeling position from there. However, Ultimate Sandbag exercises are best when you just use them period!
Anyway, the hip bridge may or may not be new to you but in regards to increasing stride length it’s important since it really helps to unlock the hip flexors, activate the glutes and with the help of the Ultimate Sandbag, engage the core and lats.
Like many DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercises we can progress by not just making the load heavier (actually kinda of our last option) but by changing leverage. Like making the bent knee straight which provides a bit more of a challenge.
Keys to performing the Hip Bridge: Begin with feet flat on the ground with shins vertical and upper body flat on the ground. Hold the Ultimate Sandbag above the chest while pulling the outside handles apart. Push through the ground as you extend your hips and squeeze your glutes at the top of the bridge. Lower back down and pause before performing another rep.
Find each of these Ultimate Sandbag exercises demonstrated below in the video.
Of course, mobility is only just the beginning of the many ways that you can work to increase your stride length. Extending beyond the warmup, there are strength training Ultimate Sandbag exercises, power and plyo work and speed exercises that you can introduce as part of your running routine that will all help to improve your running stride, frequency and speed.
It’s literally more information that I can fit into one post which is why I will be making a series out of it over the next month or so. Be sure to check back or subscribe to The Fit Foodie Mama email list so you don’t miss out!