Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Resistance

I am determined to get back to triathlons next year, so I've started mixing some bike workouts into my week's training. (Swimming is out of the question since the lake will soon be frozen and there's no pool nearby.) I've also decided it's time to really dedicate myself to some strength training.

I'm not a big fan of weights, although I do pick up my 2- or 3-pound dumbbells occasionally. What I do like is my resistance bands. They are easily portable so I can do my workout at the yoga studio if I need to, and, unlike dumbbells, don't hurt when I drop one on my toes.

One part of my body seems to resist getting stronger, and that's my quads. It takes four or five days for my quadriceps, and particularly my right quad, to stop being sore after a fast run or a targeted workout. The four muscles that make up the quadriceps, rectus femoris, vastus intermedius, vastus lateralis and vastus medialis, are responsible for knee extension. They are important muscles for yoga, running and cycling, so I've been trying to get them stronger and better able to recover. Lunges with a resistance band are now a strength-training staple for me.

To do lunges, stand with your right foot on the middle of the resistance band, holding the ends of the band in each hand with your arms by your sides. Step your left foot back far enough so that your right knee will stay behind your toes when you lunge. You should be on the ball of your left foot. Bend your right knee a bit. Bend your elbows, lift the ends of the resistance band to almost shoulder-height and hold them there.

Keeping your core strong, back straight and chest lifted, slowly lower your left knee towards the floor. Your knee might lightly touch the floor, but don't put your weight on it. Make sure your right knee stays behind your toes and try to get your right thigh parallel to the floor. Then slowly lift up to the staring position.

Do two or three sets of 12-15 reps on each leg. You can build up by increasing the repetitions or switching to a heavier resistance band.

What I didn't resist was doing all of my planned workouts last week. I was on the treadmill or the bike trainer for 4 hours and 11 minutes, running 13 miles and pedaling 12 miles. The week included a run when I ran 11:07 minute miles, my fastest treadmill run so far.
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