This week was Phase 4 of the Kinetic Revolution 30-Day Challenge. I think some of the exercises have been pretty amazing– about as important as Phase 2 was two weeks ago. Here’s what I’ve been doing, as well as some additions I’ve made.
What’s in Phase 4
This week focused on four basic exercises– all done with a resistance band.
- Resistance Band Squats. This is a pretty basic squat movement with a nice neutral back and reaching only down until the butt touches the bench. The resistance band keeps a focus on pushing the knees outwards, which does a great job of firing the glutes up.
- Single-Leg Resisted Toe Touch. Resistance band under the supporting foot and held in the opposite hand. This is a forward-bending single-leg deadlift– and the resistance band really makes it target the glute much more effectively.
- Lateral Resistance Band Walk. This is a classic gluteus medius exercise that my physical therapists have always called the “crab walk” because that’s exactly the way you move– a side-to-side movement.
- Single-Leg Rotations. Along with the single-leg resisted toe touch, this is another balance-related exercise. With a resistance band around your legs, balance on one leg and rotate on the supporting leg.
What Was Most Useful for Me
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of Phase 3 of the 30-Day Challenge, which is why I didn’t post about it. Phase 3 was all about flexibility. I think that didn’t work as well for me because my flexibility sucks– and it will take a bit more than 20 minutes a day to get significant headway in that department. I’m similarly challenged with my balance, so I didn’t really love the balance-related exercises. Again, not because it wasn’t useful but because it’s going to take a bunch more work to get me to improve.
So the most amazing exercises during this phase for me have been the squats and the lateral band walk. The squats, of course, fire up the glutes in a strong way and the lateral band walk is fantastic for getting the glute medius going. The single-leg toe touch is also fantastic for getting the glutes going– probably even more effectively than the squats. The only problem, however, is that these exercises require some balance to really do effectively.
I mentioned in my Day 12 Update that I think the best way to do any set of exercises is to do them immediately before a run. This is particularly important for strength routines like those outlined in Phase 4 because muscles get recruited more effectively when they are activated more often. I also think that the hip flexor work that was introduced in Phases 1 and 2 is critical, so I continue to use it as part of my routine in addition to the four exercises in Phase 4. So far, it’s been great. I can really feel the muscles engage when I follow the exercises with the motion of running.
What Else I Added
One other addition that I’ve been incorporating into the routine is to work on my hip flexors with a resistance band. The folks over at Inform Running have been talking about the cross-extensor reflex and it’s connection to glute activation. The idea is that we have an automatic reflex where our glute muscles on one side get fired when the opposite leg hip flexor get fired. It makes sense to me that the glutes and hip flexors go together, so it also makes sense to work on activating them at the same time. It just so happens that the folks over at Inform Running recommend a resistance band exercise that fits in really well into the Week Four routine. But instead of doing it lying down, I do it upright and by marching in place. There’s something about doing it in a marching fashion (not just repetitions of the same leg) that really gets my glutes going. Do that marching action with a strong posterior pelvic tilt and a straight supporting leg and the contralateral glute light up like a Christmas tree. I guess that there really is something to this cross-extensor reflex thing.
So here’s my modified version of the week four routine:
- Marching Hip Flexor Exercise with Resistance Band. See above. This targets the hip flexors and also gets the glutes involved.
- Hip Flexor Stretch. This stretch is from Phase 1 of the 30-day challenge. It’s mostly a stretch, but also gets the hip flexors and glutes working together in a slightly different way that’s also critical to running.
- Split Squat. This exercise is from Phase 2 of the 30-day challenge– again targeting the glutes.
- Resistance Band Squats, Single-Leg Resisted Toe Touch, Lateral Resistance Band Walk, and Single-Leg Rotations. All of these exercises are part of the normal Phase 4 routine. With each set, incorporate the three additional exercises and stretches outlined above.
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