Who Needs a Gym? (Really.)

Personally, I love everything about the gym.  I am one of those bizarre individuals who wants to be the first one there (#morningperson) – the calm before the athletic storm, the heaviness of the uncirculated air, the perfect precision (read as anal) of every weight, ball, and kettlebell in its place.  But that doesn’t mean that I ever need to pick up a weight to get a great workout.

In fact, the beauty of the Bay Area is that nearly 365 days/year, the great outdoors is primed to be my playground.  Grabbing a quick total body workout post ride or run is surprisingly easy, and requires nothing but, well, a little motivation.  If you've got 15 minutes, I've got a 3x3 below with balance, flexibility, and strength that will benefit every endurance athlete.  


1)   Inchworms.  These are my favorite - ever.  Inchworms load the anterior chain while providing flexibility to the posterior chain.  You can add in all sorts of variations to further advance the difficulty – push-ups, knee to elbow touches, etc.  Inchworms have a big sister better known as the burpee for a power-based (plyo) alternative.

2)   Mountain Climbers.  These are incredibly versatile.  The basic version (knees to elbows) can easily advance into a lunge format (heels to wrists) by intensifying the plyometric action. 

3)   Plank.  Hold it.  Walk it.  Rotate it.  Lift a leg.  Lift an arm.  Make it a headstand.  Just set your timer, build your proficiency, and keep it fun.  There is no substitute for a rock solid core for run, ride, climb, lift, and PLAY durability.

DROP IT LOW (All about the Base)

1)   On/Off Tension Squat.  I love to oscillate between an on and off tension squat, as you transition from a loading exercise to a mobility exercise.  I will typically use a 2:1 ratio in off:on tension (i.e. more mobility).

2)   Lunges.  Keep these variable!  Runners and cyclists should grab some curtsy lunges to hit lateral hip strength and mobility, but an alternating forward to reverse lunge is an awesome package for coordinated hip and glute activation.

3)   Single-Legged Deadlifts.  These should load your hammies and activate your glutes.  Bend and snap for more... bend and snap.  While it's true that a fair amount of power in your run stride comes from your quads and calves, the reality is that this duo plays a MINOR ROLE in your ability to generate a powerful stride in comparison to your hips, hammies, and glutes.  These three muscles comprise the movers for hip extension - the single most important factor in your ability to run faster.  Seriously, hit your deadlifts.  These are a no brainer.

BONUS)   Calf Raises.  Do not ignore your lower leg.  I repeat.  Do NOT.  Ankle instability or soleus/achilles immobility can take an athlete down faster than a cramp at the end of a race.  Mix up your raises – heights, toe positions, and speed.

HIGH AND TIGHT (The Upper Deck)

1)   Hand Release Push-Ups.  These are going to snag your entire anterior chain as well as your mid and upper back.   The key here, however, is control at the hips.  Your belly shouldn’t be the last off the ground – if that’s the case, drop to your knees on these push-ups until your core strength catches up.  P.S.  If you want to achieve "legend" status, throw these into your inchworm.

2)   Hollow Rocks.  Your body = Leg of a rocking chair.  The “longer” you can make yourself, the better, but don’t be afraid to start these using an “L” shape - especially if you find you don't yet have the control through your pelvis to keep your lower back from activating as a primary mover.  

3)  Windshield Wipers.  Strength + Mobility across the lateral motion of your hips and back.  

Remember:  Keep it fun, and make it manageably short - a little work several days/week is far more beneficial that A LOT of work once or twice/week.




Kate Ligler