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 Better Running Through Strength Training 
 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Keeping Fit by . View all columns in series

Arm Muscles
The basic exercise for the biceps muscles is the arm curl, performed with barbells, dumbbells, or machines. Training the triceps involves some form of arm extension, either with free-weights or machines.

A good means for working the biceps and upper back muscles together is chin-ups with bodyweight or on a weight-assisted chin/dip machine. A good means for working the triceps and chest muscles together is bar dips with bodyweight or on a weight-assisted chin/dip machine.

Midsection Muscles
Machines provide the best means for safely and progressively conditioning the muscles of the midsection. In our opinion, the abdominal machine and low-back machine are key exercises for developing a strong and injury resistant midsection. We also recommend the rotary torso machine for strengthening the oblique muscles surrounding the midsection.

If appropriate machines are not available, the basic trunk curl may be the best alternative for abdominal conditioning. The recommended counterpart for the low-back muscles is a front-lying (face down) back extension. Although both of these exercises are performed with bodyweight resistance they are reasonably effective for strengthening the midsection muscles.

Neck Muscles
The neck muscles maintain head position throughout each run. As the head weighs up to 15 pounds, this is an important function. In fact, the first place where many runners fatigue and tighten up is the neck/shoulder area. We therefore recommend the 4-way neck machine to strengthen these muscles. If you do not have access to this machine, perhaps the best approach is manual resistance. That is, place your hands in front of your forehead to resist slow neck flexion movements, and place your hands behind your head to resist slow neck extension movements.

Table 1 presents the recommended strength training exercises for an overall conditioning program that should be beneficial for runners.

Table 1. Recommended Strength Training Program: Basic Exercises

Major Muscle Groups Machine Exercises Free-Weight Exercises

Quadriceps Leg Extension Machine Dumbbell Half-Squat
Hamstrings Leg Curl Machine Dumbbell Half-Squat
Chest Chest Cross Machine Dumbbell Bench Press
Upper Back Pullover Machine Dumbbell Bent Row
Shoulders Lateral Raise Machine Dumbbell Overhead Press
Biceps Biceps Machine Dumbbell Biceps Curl
Triceps Triceps Machine Dumbbell Triceps Extension
Low Back Low Back Machine Back Extension (Bodyweight)
Abdominals Abdominal Machine Trunk Curls (Bodyweight)

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 About The Author
Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., is fitness research director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. He is strength training consultant for numerous national organizations, such as the American Council on Exercise, the......moreWayne Westcott PhD
 
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