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

trap bar deadlift

A few of my wonderful friends and colleagues recommended JKC. I was told by one colleague that “It’ll be the best thing you ever do for yourself” and she was right! To be honest, I didn’t have much experience in any gym setting. And NO prior weight training experience. It was always so overwhelming! But from the first day, nothing was intimidating about JKC. Each workout is set up just for me, and with my specific skills and goals in mind. There are no stupid questions, you learn as you go, and what I really love, I always feel included and important, regardless of my skills/experience.

The people and the training set JKC apart from other gyms or programs I’ve tried in the past. Truly Jon and Thomas meet you where are and help you get to where you want to be. There are no expectations and never any judgement. You can go there having the worst day and you always leave feeling better. Truly JKC has given me a level of strength and confidence I would not have had otherwise ❤️.

cas dyke

I started training at JKC in 2016 because I had built up a number of muscle imbalances from old injuries and activities like rock climbing which had led to some really bad posture and mobility issues. On top of that some friends had convinced me to sign up for a half-ironman. Working with Jon and Thomas was a way to pull my body back into alignment and make sure it wouldn’t fall apart during my race. The staff at JKC pride themselves on continuously advancing their knowledge, which leads to new and inventive way to address problems, old and new. I got my Dad to start training here and recommended JKC to all looking to improve their strength and fitness.

I am turning 67 next month and I started my journey with JKC in 2018. Seven years ago I experienced significant foot pain which had a negative impact on my day to day activities. I learned that issues in other parts of the body need to be addressed to achieve a positive result. My doctor (Dr. Jessica Wade) suggested, along with some other therapies, that I could  benefit from the conditioning JKC had to offer. I previously had not trained in any gym. I observed how many gyms operated and had a sense that JKC would be more my style: training in a small group setting, having such personal attention, and a program meeting my specific needs is fantastic! I love the atmosphere at the gym. Everyone is accepted and you feel supported and comfortable.

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