What Is Calisthenics For Trail Running?
You might not be thoroughly familiar with what defines calisthenics, but seeing it in action is more common than you think. Calisthenics is an exercise or training that uses your body weight instead of the typical barbells and dumbbells.
While there certainly are more advanced moves in calisthenics, some of the basics include push-ups, pull-ups, and lunges. In recent years, calisthenics gained back its popularity. One Google search will lead you to several videos and online content that shows you different ways how to do calisthenics.
Beginners are also attracted to this exercise type since it doesn’t require one to have extensive knowledge about calisthenics. Calisthenics is one of the most effective ways to build functional strength. While weight lifting can develop your muscles, it might cause muscle imbalance in your body if you do not execute it properly.
Since calisthenics will utilize your whole body, practitioners tend to build lean, more balanced physiques than their weight-lifting counterparts.
Because of its simplicity and non-complex nature, athletes do calisthenics as one of their cross-training routines. You do not have to purchase additional equipment or a gym membership to do the exercises.
You can see practitioners of calisthenics do their workout in parks, especially ones that have bars. However, some places have parks created to promote calisthenics.
How Calisthenics Work for Trail Runners
Trail running is one of the most original human activities. Almost everyone from childhood learned how to run. One can argue that human bodies are designed by nature for running, especially on trails. Our ancestors used to run when hunting or fleeing from predators and enemies; this is why running is one of the most “natural” forms of exercise.
However, there are several ways you can take to improve your running skills. Cross-training is one way to help you improve your endurance and overall performance. When looking for another activity to improve your running specifically, you need to look at exercises that engage your whole body with an emphasis on your legs and core.
You might already know that leg muscles aren’t the only ones that humans use while running. We use 70% of our muscles when running, but most of these muscles are on your legs and core.
Calisthenics, being a form of exercise that uses movements that engage your whole body, is a perfect activity a runner can do to improve their performance. As mentioned earlier, calisthenics only utilizes bodyweight; that’s why it shapes runners’ bodies into a more balanced machine.
There are specific exercises you, as a runner, can do to focus on training your legs and core. The upside to these exercises is that they don’t require bulky and expensive tools and machinery to perform.
If you are a beginner in strength training and using calisthenics as your cross-training program of choice, we can start with a slow progression. You need to focus on your form and how you do all the exercises. Properly executing calisthenics translates to your running performance. The slower and more accurate you go, the better it is for you.
As a starter, you can begin doing 1 set of 5 exercises at 12-15 repetitions each. As your strength progresses, you can then start making the routine more challenging. Start by increasing the number of sets from 1 to 2, then take it up to 3.
You can then execute more challenging variations of calisthenic exercises to further your strength training—an example of these variations 1-legged lunges instead of using two legs.
Listed below are some calisthenic exercises that are beneficial for runners. These exercises focus on training your legs and core.
Best Calisthenics for Trail Running
Squats are one of the most enduring exercises for runners. It targets your quads and glutes, which help you have a more stable run. To execute the perfect squat, you need to plant your feet steadily at hip-distance apart. As you go lower, bend your knees in a 90-degree angle as if you’re lowering yourself to sit down. Repeat the steps until you become more familiar with them.
Once you’re comfortable and find standard squats easy, you can start doing these variations:
Place your feet wider than your hips as if you’re a sumo wrestler. Then, point your feet slightly outward. Proceed to bend your knees like you’re doing standard squats.
Start by planting your feet at shoulder width, pointing them slightly outward. Place your hands behind your head and interlock your fingers. Proceed to bend your knees as if you’re doing standard squats.
The pistol squat is a more advanced calisthenic exercise. This exercise uses single-leg strength, mobility, and balance. Start by standing with your feet together. Raise your arms in front of you as you lift your left leg. Then, start bending your right knee until your left leg is parallel to the ground. Stand up and repeat the steps using the other leg.
Bend your knees into a standard squat. As you stand back up, kick your left leg to the side. Immediately drop your body down again as you do a traditional squat, then kick your right leg to the side as you stand up.
Planks are a classic exercise to improve your core strength. To do a plank, lie down on the ground on your belly. Bend your elbows and put them on the floor, and slowly elevate your whole body. Your feet should rest on their toes. Stabilize your whole body by flexing your core. Hold the position for 1 minute.
You can also do these variations to add range to your exercises:
Instead of lying down on your belly, lie down on your side with your elbow supporting your upper body. Slowly lift your hips off the ground and hold that position for 1 minute.
The one-arm plank is a variation of the standard plank where you lift one of your arms in front of you while keeping it in line with your whole body posture.
The one-leg plank is another plank variation where you lift one leg off the ground.
Another exercise that can help you strengthen your legs are lunges. To make lunges, start from a standing position. Then, place your left leg in front of you. Bend your knees until your left leg is at a 90-degree angle. Stand back up and repeat the steps using your other leg.
These are only a few of the many calisthenic exercises you can do to strengthen your legs and core. But the above calisthenics exercises are key for trail running. Remember to execute these accurately, so you get the full effect of these exercises.