One of the most important and beneficial exercise for runners is a squat. The best way to improve the strength and mobility is to use different types of squats. To only squat one way will not have as many benefits. To save their body, improve their performance and stamina, runners need to get stronger. Stronger runners can utilize more muscles fibers for speed, power and endurance. The ability to recruit more fibers also helps later in a long run when you start to feel the fatigue. Being stronger will help to push back the onset of fatigue, run more economically and have some energy left to push at the end of a race, especially for ultra-runners. To get stronger at the gym will make you a stronger runner.
What are squats?
A squat is a full-body, compound, multi-joint exercise that strengthens nearly every muscle in your lower body, but it focuses on:
These are the most important muscles for runners, they power the stride, and support proper running form. When these muscles are strong and functional, it will help prevent injuries and help you run faster and better. For an injury prevention perspective, squats are highly beneficial because they strengthen more than just your muscles. Squats also help strengthen the bones, ligaments and insertion tendons in your legs. The movement of a squat is very specific to running; while running, you basically include a series of coordinated one-legged squats. Stronger squatters will become less injury-prone and faster runners.
Why are different types of squats more beneficial?
Even though different types of squats work the same muscles, the emphasis on each exercise engages the muscles slightly differently. Which means the muscle development will be different as well.
For example, a sumo squat has a different foot position than a traditional bodyweight squat, which emphasizes different muscles. Both exercises work the same muscles, but the sumo squat places more stress on the inner thigh adductors and glutes. Different squats equal different stresses and levels of mobility and range of motion. The result: A stronger, more mobile and faster runner. Stronger and faster runners with proper running form recruit more muscle fibers overall, engage the glutes better, and require a larger range of motion.
5 Types of Squats:
Bodyweight Squat: Stand with your feet hip width apart and toes facing forward. Start the movement by flexing your knees and hips, sitting back on your hips. Lower down until your thighs are parallel to the ground and then come back up in the starting position. Keep your head and torso up during the entire movement, otherwise you disengage the core.
Prisoner Squat: Stand with your feet hip width apart, toes facing straight and your hands behind your head. This is the starting position. Start by flexing your knees and hips, sitting back with your hips. Lower down until your thighs are parallel to the ground and come back up. Again, keep your head and torso up.
Sumo Squat: Stand with your feet wider than your shoulder width apart and your toes turned out. Start the movement by flexing your knees and hips, sitting back with your hips. Continue until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Keep your head and chest up and come back up into the starting position.
Narrow Squat: Start with your feet together and toes pointing straight ahead. Start the movement by flexing your knees and hips, sitting back with your hips. Lower down until your thighs are parallel to the ground then come back up. Keep your head and torso up during the entire movement.
ATG Squat: Stand with your feet hip width apart and toes facing straight ahead. Start the movement by flexing your knees and hips, sitting back with your hips. Lower down until you can’t squat any lower, your butt should be as close to the ground as possible. Come back up to the starting position, keeping your head and torso up during the whole movement.
Mix and match these different types of squats 2-3 times per week. Each type of squat will train your mobility, and strength in different ways. Once you become comfortable with these exercises, adding weights will help you get even stronger.
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