Week 13: marathon strength-training

This series of ViPR-based exercises will help correct imbalances.

The human body seems fairly symmetrical: Two eyes, two ears, two arms, two legs. But despite this outwardly balanced design, we are almost always playing favorites. "We have a dominant throwing arm, a preferred running stance, and more importantly, our organs are not laid out symmetrically," says Tier 4 coach Jason Skinner. "All of these asymmetries create movement and postural imbalances throughout the body."

And while a symmetrical face might translate to a successful modeling career, a more balanced, symmetrical physique will make you a stronger, healthier runner, which is precisely why Skinner designed this week's plan to address these imbalances.

"The first exercise, the ViPR Hamstring Stretch, addresses uneven rotation that occurs at the pelvis." he explains. "The ViPR Half-Kneeling Lateral Shift reinforces the core and hip stability necessary to prevent this unwanted shift and rotation, while the ViPR Lateral Lunge will challenge the hip stability and mobility in a very dynamic manner. To finish, we create a metabolic demand by forcing you to move quickly through the frontal plane with some ViPR Lateral Shuffles."

Perform these exercises on your designated strength-training day, at least once this week.

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(1) ViPR Hamstring Stretch (mobility)

Start in an offset stance with one foot slightly in front of the other. Hold the ViPR in the hand of the back leg. Reach back with your hips and reach for the foot of the front leg. As you shift your hips back, tilt the ViPR sideways, away from the front leg (as shown). This will force the hips to shift in the direction of the front leg. Reach as far as you can while maintaining a neutral spine. Return to standing and repeat for 6 to 8 reps per leg. If one side of your hips is tighter, emphasize that side with some extra repetitions.

(2) ViPR Half-Kneeling Lateral Shift (activation)

Hold the handles of a ViPR at chest height in a half kneeling position. Brace the glute of the down leg and grip the floor with the foot of the front leg. Shift the ViPR towards one side (as shown) and resist the motion the ViPR attempts to create in your body. Hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds. Return the ViPR to the original position and shift it towards the other direction. Repeat for a total of 5 reps per side.

(3) ViPR Lateral Lunge (movement prep)

Stand with an upright ViPR in front of one leg. Grasp the top of the ViPR and take a lunging step directly to your side as you control the fall of the ViPr towards that leg. You should sit back into the hip of the leg that you lunge towards. Reach across the body with the hand holding the ViPR but stay tall (as shown). Drive off of that leg and return to the standing position. Repeat for 8 to 10 reps, and then switch directions.

(4) ViPR Lateral Shuffle (movement)

Start in an athletic position and hold the ViPR on edge. Staying low, shuffle towards the down side of the ViPR. As the ViPR gets to an upright position, switch hands, but continue to shuffle in the same direction as you lower the ViPR towards the floor (as shown). When it gets close to the floor, change directions and once again switch hands as it becomes upright. Continue this movement for 20 to 30 seconds or for 5 reps in each direction.