Take a look at this video and identify what is wrong.
By the end of this article you should be able to understand *what* is wrong, *why* it happens and *how* it can be corrected.
For my runners out there, this one’s for you.
I used to log *hours* of running every week.
Since 2013 I have drastically cut my hours of running and turned them into minutes.
Despite the recent lack, I still enjoy running; I like it enough to do it every now and then.
I have completed three half marathons.
Long story short: I get you, runners.
Maybe you run short runs, long runs and occasionally you do yoga.
One day you think, “Man, I outta cross train or something.”
So you hop on a spin bike or you jump in the pool.
While there is absolutely nothing wrong with these forms of cross training *for endurance,* there are other ways to enhance your running speed, agility and even more, your overall athleticism– beyond simply doing other types of endurance exercises.
Consider this: when you pound the pavement, or you spin the pedals on a bike, you are simply moving forward and backward. When you swim you are, (again), only moving forward or backward.
What about moving sideways? Does that matter?
Yes, move laterally if you want to improve athleticism and potentially avoid injury.
Moving laterally is key. When you do this, you will engage different muscles and use them more than you typically do in regular forward moving exercises–adding to overall strength.
The specific muscle to focus on in lateral movements is the gluteus medius muscle– a tiny muscle in the side of the booty that can play major role in a runner’s gait.
“Gait,” is a word to describe or refer to a runner’s form, or their walking pattern.
In January 2014 I attended a running workshop in Chicago with the Shred415 team where we discussed various strength exercises, lateral movements and running drills to enhance runner’s speed.
That day, there was one major takeaway: move laterally.
It stuck with me.
I never again omitted a ski hop, lateral lunge, clam shell or side crawl (some type of lateral movement) from my floor exercises when coaching at Shred415.
Even more, it struck a personal chord with me.
I realized I have always moved sideways.
Cartwheels, chausses, side leaps, side jumps etc. As a gymnast we trained to move all in directions. I’ve never known what it’s like to NOT move in crazy ways.
However, as we grow up– just getting into the gym and doing basic forward/backward movements can be tough; lateral movements are neglected.
Here’s the problem with runners– some are so into their running game that not only are they incredibly concerned with their times each training day, but they rarely stray from their favorite routes.
They also rarely rest.
While being competitive and motivated is great, being too consumed with the racing times and routine can detract from overall fitness.
Never mind rest and recovery, it is key to switch it up and add *strength.*
Guilt is not a good feeling; taking time away from your route or your running routine should never make you feel weak or guilty.
Taking a break from running can be a good thing if you are supplementing your training with strategic lateral strength exercises.
Most runners will agree with me, that aside from feeling good, you really just want to improve your times and avoid injury.
Am I right?
Not only that, but I am sure you have cringed before, when you saw a runner who seems to rock their hips more side-to-side than forward with each stride.
Not to say you are “that guy,” BUT you may not have developed your gluteus medius muscles to their full potential!
What about the runner that looks more like a bounding rabbit than an athlete?
There are ways to fix the gait and correct running form for improved athletiscim. Even more, runners who build glute strength can achieve faster race times that FEEL GOOD.
After I began strength training my mile times went down and I was running less.
Some runners have had the “aha!” moment and decided to come to places like Barry’s Bootcamp, Shred415, or Equinox running class.
In my experience, several runners who came into Shred415, did so to use HIIT to improve speed by use of treadmill sprints and hill intervals. Many of them also wished add weight lifting to their regime for overall athletic balance– not to mention, develop a better physique.
Mixing it up at a place like Barry’s Bootcamp, or Shred415 is a good way for runners to learn how to incorporate weights for hypertrophy and work on higher rep ranges, encouraging muscular endurance.
Classes like Shred415 and Barry’s Bootcamp are also the perfect opportunity to also work on giving the gluteus medius some TLC.
Not only is a HIIT class like the aforementioned, but it is also a perfect time to hone in on running form– especially when the coach is queuing, “calm hips,” “quick feet,” or ” still hips!” “not too much swinging!”
But the question most people have is: how do you keep the hips calm or still?
You may be confused at first because you are unsure how to contract those muscles to keep them still and exert all energy forward (in turn generating a faster speed).
This is why activating the glute med on the “floor” in these classes OR during a strength training session is KEY; you learn where to feel it and how to activate it.
At the 2014 running workshop many of the movements discussed by Mike Thompson of Fast and Fit Coaching LLC and D Mike Kelly of Nova Care reminded me of my gymnastics, pole-vaulting and cheerleading days.
It made me realize two things:
1. The specific, distinct soreness in my side booty I remember feeling after intense cheerleading practices and gymnastics lessons growing up now makes sense. In those sports, we were constantly bounding and leaping different ways–ways in which the glute med has to work very hard.
2. No “butt and legs” workout or squat day at the gym ever gave me that type of sore, when done without lateral movements.
Must I say it again: MOVE LATERALLY.
Excess movement up and down or side to side running is inefficient.
Further, side to side motion inhibits speed and can even lead to injury through completing hours of training with poor form.
The gluteus medius is a small muscle. Thus, the drills and exercises you can do to activate it and/or strengthen it are fairly simple.
It’s incredibly easy to incorporate these exercises to your strength training sessions. At the end of the article I will also demonstrate *how* to do some basic lateral movements.
Consider them to be very important “accessory exercises.”
If you truly want to see better times, better form, and feel better– take one day a week (at least), and try strength training exercises that incorporate lateral movements.
Just like it’s important to include various micronutrients throughout the week in your diet, focusing on muscles you may not even realize are weak, will result in enormous overall progress.
So often people are moving forward in their running, forward strength movements like lunges, deadlifts and squats, and simply walking forward in day to day life.
Let’s go sideways and get stronger.
Side crawl with weight?
Lateral lunge (weighted or unweighted)
Ski hops (power movement)
Side planks– add a leg lift to increase the intensity for the glute med.
Side to side (lateral) hops
Side shuffle on a treadmill (The video below shows my preferred way, on a 5.0 incline).
Banded squat with a lateral leg lift
Side crawling in crawl stance
Side crawl in push-up position
Banded walks–you can do these with one or two bands. If you use two, place one around the ankles and the other just above the knees.
After reviewing the above exercises, make sure these movements are done with a coach, if possible, and without pain. Pain is felt for a reason–indicating something is wrong. Stretch before trying these and listen to your body.
Want your own *free* sample strength workout with lateral movements?
*Sign up for my newsletter* and a sample, effective strength workout will come your way in just three days!