Putting in your mileage alone isn’t all you need to train for the American Hot Shots Extreme Run. You’ll be facing obstacles that require you to jump, vault, crawl, and climb. Add these lower-body strengthening exercises (as well as our previous post on upper-body training suggestions) to your weekly running schedule so you can give Hot Shots all you’ve got.
Consult your doctor before embarking on any exercise plan to make sure you’re in ideal health to rock the course. Defer to your coaches and health professionals when it comes to proper exercise form.
Lower Body Strength Building
For those in the habit of running regularly, glute exercises are important because they balance out a runner’s powerful quads. Increasing glute and hamstring muscles can do wonders for speed, strength, and endurance, and working the rest of your leg muscles can help prevent injuries. Here are several exercises that will work your lower body in a way that running doesn’t.
Single Leg Deadlift
This move works your glutes, quads, and hamstrings, but also engages the muscles in your ankles and the lower parts of your legs for stability.
Stand with your back straight, chest up, and feet shoulder width apart, holding a dumbbell in one hand. Keep your chin tucked toward your chest and your back straight as you lift the opposite leg from the hand holding the dumbbell in a backward motion. Keep your shoulders square and back straight as you lower the weight toward the floor, and then bring it back up as you bring the back leg to the ground and straighten into your starting position. Repeat 8-12 times, and then switch legs.
You can also do the movement keeping the toe of your back leg lightly touching the ground. This will increase the demand on your core muscles and help build balance and ankle stability.
Step ups are great for both your glutes and quads, and can be modified to work both glutes at the same time.
Place one foot up on a box or bench with your toes pointing straight ahead, knee bent to create a perfect 90-degree angle, even with your hip or slightly higher. Keep your shoulders back and back straight as you step up onto the box, keeping your weight on your active leg, only touching the box lightly with you’re opposite toe. Resist folding your knee inward to avoid injury. Lower your foot slowly back to the ground. Do 8-12 reps on one leg and then switch.
You can make this move more challenging by holding dumbbells. To make this move even more challenging, after stepping up, kick your leg back to engage both glutes.
Squats are important for your posterior chain, balancing out the strong quads that come from running and preventing injury. You will need a kettlebell, dumbbell, or other object to hold as you do this move.
Hold the weight in front of you with your elbows tucked into your torso and your back straight. With your feet shoulder width apart and toes facing forward, lower your butt toward the floor. Keep your bodyweight in your heels, knees out, and elbows tucked in until your knees are bent past 90-degrees. Then, return to a standing position with an explosive movement. Repeat 8-12 times.
Once you have reached the squat position, use the opportunity to stretch the back and hip flexors by pushing against the insides of your knees with your elbows.
This lateral movement works the outside of your hips (otherwise known as external hip rotators), a sometimes-forgotten but very important part of the lower body.
Position yourself on your hands and knees, with your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips. Keep your elbows locked and pull your navel toward you spine in order to keep you back straight. As you continue to look at the ground, move your femur directly out to the side, lifting it to a 90-degree angle, then returning it to the ground without putting any more weight on it. Repeat 8-12 times.
If you are extra flexible, you can lift your leg above 90-degrees out to the side.