Hi Jon-Erik,

Me and my wife love your website!  We read “Butt it Out” in Canadian Running that you wrote and wanted to start adding in strength training to our running program.  We run with the local running store running group but don’t feel that’s enough to help us finish a half marathon we are training for.  We went to the gym a few times this year (also it’s our new year’s resolution) and used machines like the one where you straighten your legs with the pad on your shins and the one where you curl your legs with the pad on your calves.  Are we making use of our time in the gym?

Thanks and keep up the good work!

Danny and Amanda

Thanks for your question.

The exercises you described sound like the leg extension machine and hamstring curl machine.  I’ll give you an A for effort but I wouldn’t recommend those exercises to runners.  Actually, I wouldn’t recommend those exercises for any athletes – the only sport that I would attribute those machines to is body building.

Machines in general have traditionally been deemed as safe and beneficial to people who don’t have much exercise experience.  In my humble opinion, machines can sometimes be dangerous because the range of motion, even though usually linear, can be awkward or too extreme for someone depending on the machine’s set-up or his/her limb length.  Studies have shown excess and unwanted knee joint stress from the leg extension machine – just an example of how a machine can be harmful.

It will be far more effective and beneficial for you to stand on stable ground and perform double and single leg exercises.  Exercises such as split squats or reverse lunges are great for beginners.  Not only will you develop functional leg strength but you will also challenge your balance and develop single leg hip stability => this will help prevent lateral knee pain and ITB syndrome.

Also, you don’t run sitting down, so why would you strength train sitting down?  Other machines like the hip adductor/abductor machine or the standing hamstring curl machine should also be avoided.

Some people ask me if they can use the leg press machine or incline leg press machine and my response is always the same => learn how to double leg squat below parallel without lifting your heels off the ground while keeping a neutral lumbar spine.  If you can’t, dynamic mobility drills will be an important part of your program. Once you can achieve that, develop strength through that full range of motion.  Here’s a version called the Goblet Squat that I will be featuring in my next Canadian Running magazine article.

So the bottom line: No lower body machines for runners.

Thanks for reading and continue to RUN STRONG.

-JK

I chose JKC because I was looking for something different. I’ve seen and done the trendy workout programs before, I was looking for something that I knew I could see myself still doing a year from now! JKC has a lot of clients that have been going for years. That was a huge motivator for me! The small group coaching sessions are great and I really enjoy the format. It’s nice having 2-4 people working-out with you during your session. The camaraderie is great, everyone is very upbeat and positive – zero gym judgment!

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I had always wanted to start lifting weights and get stronger, but didn’t know where to start. I was looking not just for a gym, but for training on proper technique to prevent injury and a program designed for my specific goals. I also wanted a fun and supportive atmosphere to keep me coming back. JKC delivered on all of this and more.

Jon and Thomas have a wealth of knowledge that help their clients get the most out of their time in the gym. Programs are continuously modified to keep the workouts challenging. Even through everyone’s program is unique, you always have the coaches and other clients cheering you on and pushing you to achieve new bests.

I had been struggling with work-life balance resulting in not exercising or playing hockey as much as I had been doing in the past. In addition to being out of shape, I was starting to experience some back/shoulder issues and realized I needed to make some changes. Around this time, a friend (who was also a client) recommended JKC and that’s when I started!

You really feel part of a community where everyone is welcoming and supportive. You get a program that is designed specifically to achieve your goals, with the ongoing coaching, progress tracking and support required to achieve them. The JKC team are very knowledgeable about fitness and conditioning, and very engaging with everyone to answer questions or discuss anything and everything training related. I also like the flexible scheduling and gym times that work for my schedule (I like early mornings and evenings).

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