Thursday, February 13, 2014

A WEIGHTY ISSUE

Nearly a foot of new snow fell today, and I took the day off from running. Several hours of snow shoveling provided a good workout, but later I performed a ritual that I firmly believe is essential for every runner.

We runners are in magnificent physical condition. Our arteries are like superhighways, and our legs are powerful. Running long distances, climbing hills, and good, hard speed workouts have created legs that rival those of thoroughbred horses.

Often, however, runner neglect their other half.

Of their bodies, that is.

No matter how we have sculpted our legs, our daily training runs do little for our upper bodies, and if we don't address the issue, we run the risk of owning mashed potato-like muscles from the waist up.

I'm not suggesting that we become body-builders, rather that a regular weight-training program will go a long way toward upper body fitness.

Today, I did my 20-minute weight training routine, which I try to complete three times a week.

Low weight, high repetitions is the method I have used to maintain muscle tone without increasing muscle bulk.

My workout consists of three sets of bench presses. 15 repetitions, with a 2-minute break between sets. Next, I do a three sets of curls, 25 repetitions per set. Finally, I do three sets of standing rowing, 15 repetitions per set.

Select weights that are challenging, yet comfortable. Create a burn, but, for example, don't allow the bar to crash to your chest during bench presses. If the bar drops to your chest and stays there, you're probably lifting too much weight!

In order to stave off a doughy middle, I do 300 crunches a day. Strong abs help strengthen the lower back.

A couple of years ago, I installed a chin up bar in my house. Each day I try to do 10-15 chin ups.

It's not much, and you can design a program that suits your needs. I try to avoid lifting weights the day before a critical workout, such as a long training run, a tempo run, or a speed workout.

Maintain a regular weight lifting regimen, and you  will look better and feel better. Your upper body strength will create power which will propel your legs during workouts and races, and you will become a better runner.