If we were to analyze our body movement in regard to running, we would notice a forward motion in one direction. Running is mainly a lower body exercise, using the legs with a little help from the upper body for counter balance. It is often overlooked in training that, to have great force production in forward motion, we must first be able to guide that movement with great lateral stability in the frontal plane. In order to generate power through each and every step, and for the entire body to contribute to that power, we must have a good connection through the core.
Another thing that makes lower body power and running truly efficient is the ability to achieve triple flexion and extension of the ankle, knee, and hip with good stability (i.e. motor control) to drive that movement and those generated forces in the intended direction. The following exercises will help enhance your running mechanics and add to your ability to generate faster, stronger steps in the most streamline direction needed. (Great for supplementing your training if you are preparing to compete in the AFM Fittest on May 30!)
Purpose: This movement combines a lower body movement in a narrow base with mechanics and strength needed in running. An additional benefit: using the steel mace with an asymmetrical, one-sided load challenges the stability laterally in the frontal plane. Controlling the offset weight will translate into better and more efficient forward movement.
Purpose: One of the key aspects of any locomotion movement—whether walking, running, skipping, or changing direction—is that it requires alternating control of each leg. This is why the ability to have a strong, single leg stance is important. By activating your core to control the pelvis, one leg can flex into leg drive position with power while the opposite leg extends with power. If there is not good timing and sequence when the core or torso activates to create stability, then it makes it difficult for the lower body to express the leg drive.
Purpose: Lowering the body using its own weight is a great way to challenge strength, balance, and stability on a single leg. You can easily start with a partial squat and work your way into a full squat as you become stronger. Squatting on the box allows the free leg to remain more neutral to the body as it hangs to the side rather than having to hold it flexed out in front of the body. As the body learns this simple yet challenging movement, it is critical to follow good form and aim to improve form and technique on every repetition.