Week 11: marathon strength-training

Bordering on broken-record status, but the importance of strong, healthy hips cannot be understated.

Repeat after Tier 4 coach Jason Skinner: "When it comes to anything athletic, it really is all about the hips." To that end, your workout for Week 11 will progress through three distinct, hip-focused phases. "This week's series of exercises addresses the soft tissue of the hip, resisting rotation using the hips, and generating power and force with the hips."

You'll begin by getting friendly with the foam roller. If, like many runners, you wait until you feel tightness to get rolling, it behooves you to be a bit more proactive with your approach, as Skinner recommends daily sessions. "If you’re a runner and you haven’t incorporated foam rolling, you’re probably an achy, sore runner," says Skinner. "Running puts a lot of stress on the body, and foam rolling serves as a great recovery method to offset that stress."

Once you've loosened up, you'll work on using your hips to resist rotation. "Anti-rotation core training has become a huge emphasis over the past decade, as coaches have started to realize the importance of the core to resist motion rather than produce it," says Skinner. "This is accomplished by connecting the glutes and the core, which is reinforced by the Cook band and glute bridge exercises."

And, finally, the sequence is punctuated with a power move. "Runners are always so focused on endurance and therefore tend to neglect power training," says Skinner. "This is a mistake. Adding some power training will make you a much stronger runner."

Just getting started? Jump right in, or circle back to the beginning. Access the full calendar of moves.

(1) Foam Roll Hips (mobility)

Place a foam roller on the floor and rest your body on it just below the hips. You should shift your weight and emphasize one side of the pelvis. Slowly roll your body over the foam roller from your hip towards the top of your knee and then back to the hips. Rest on any tender spots for ten-plus seconds until you feel the feedback dissipate. For some, rolling can be pretty brutal. In this case, attempt to take some weight of the roller by bracing your body with your non-involved limbs. You can also utilize a less dense, softer foam roller. Spend 3 to 5 minutes rolling pre-workout, 10 plus minutes rolling on off days.

(2) Cook Band Anterior Rotation (activation)

Attach a Cook band to a cable column or use a handle attached to a cable with some weight. Stand tall with the handles close to your chest. Assume a strong standing ‘plank’ position, with a tall spine and the glutes engaged. Press the handles away from your chest until your elbows are straight. Resist the rotation of the band or cable using the glutes and core. Hold this position for 10 seconds before returning the handle to your chest. Rest for 5 seconds and repeat for a total of 3 reps per side.

(3) Glute Bridge With Band Adduction (movement prep)

Lie on the floor with a band wrapped above the knees and heels on the floor, knees bent 90 degrees. Begin the movement by tucking your butt as if you are trying to flatten your lower back. As you tuck your butt, press your hips towards the ceiling. As you press the hips up, fight the inward pull of the band by driving your knees out slightly. Hold the top position for 3 seconds before dropping the hips. Do 10 to 15 reps.

(4) Kettlebell Swing (movement)

Place a 4-kg kettlebell on the floor about one foot in front of you. Hinge at the hips and rest your hands on your knees. Continue to move at the hips as you reach for and grab the kettlebell. Pick up the kettlebell and let it swing under your body. Reverse the swing by driving through your hips as you return to a standing ‘plank’ position with your glutes tight. Hip hinge again and let the weight come back underneath you, then once again drive through the glutes to swing the kettlebell, producing the swing with the hips and not your upper body. Be sure to maintain a tall spine through the motion. If your focus is on power, perform 3 to 6 reps as explosively as possible. For a metabolic effect, perform 10 plus reps.