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

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 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).

I’m 40 years old & started training at JKC in 2015. The gym I was working out at closed and my husband recommended JKC. JKC meets you where you are in your fitness journey and tailors the work to help achieve your goals. I’ve trained with Jon & Thomas pre pregnancy, while pregnant and now post baby and they have helped me enormously to stay fit through all life phases.

I joke with the guys often that I’ve seen no change in my fitness level since joining the gym, but the reality is I’m in far better shape at 40 than I ever was at 30 thanks to them.

Not having much if any experience with professional gyms I though it would be along the lines of going to a facility and doing your own thing, getting some instructions from time to time, if you asked for it, and for most part working out on your own, in a large impersonalized setting. I was a bit apprehensive as I figured I’d be standing around a lot looking at all this equipment wondering what to do with it, or worst doing something to hurt myself. Well I couldn’t have been more wrong. Both Jon and Thomas are very attentive, professional trainers, who lay-out an exercise program, from start to finish, for you. They demonstrate the exercise they want you to do and then watch you do it to make sure you got it right. Jon and Thomas are very thorough, patience and non-assuming.

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