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 originally chose JKC to help me rehab following back surgery. JKC was the first gym where a trainer took the time to help me identify my goals and tailor my workouts to achieve them in a safe and doable manner. 🏋🏼 Jon & Thomas are both highly professional and knowledgeable. 👨🏼‍🎓 With their guidance and informative explanations 🗣 they have enabled me to reach my ever evolving goals. At JKC I’m guaranteed fun 😆, interesting 🙃 and diverse workouts, with Jon & Thomas forever supportive and encouraging. 👏🙌👍👊

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For the past two months I have worked with the JKC team and have never felt better! In addition to a personal fitness plan, JKC’s holistic nutritionist, Julia, worked with me and around my busy schedule to educate me on healthier food options and meal planning. I maintain a daily food log which Julia reviews and provides feedback on and we also have weekly chats to discuss my nutritional goals and potential improvement areas. Julia also helped me to identify and work around dietary constraints which have caused digestion issues for years!

Julia and the rest of the JKC family have helped me get my confidence back! I love starting my days with a good sweat and a healthy breakfast. I understand what foods make me feel my best and my body is well on its way to becoming more lean, fit and happy! I would totally recommend Julia and the entire JKC team!

I started at JKC in January of 2014 and I’m 67 years old. When I had my Initial Assessment, I knew – almost immediately – that Jon knew what he was doing and what he was talking about. I was overweight, out of shape, and in serious need of someone, like Jon, who could get me back on a fitness/conditioning routine that suited me, my age, my less than acceptable physical condition, my sometimes intermittent RA, and my need for a structured, consistent and yet flexible training and conditioning program that would work for me.

Fundamentally, if I made a choice at all with respect to JKC – it was to continue to come back each week. I have not been in a lot of gyms. To be honest, they used to intimidate me. What makes JKC different is their approach to each and every one of their clients. Jon and Thomas – and now Craig – tailor each training regime to the particular needs of each client. That ensures that the training regime will suit each client upon the start of training and changes as the client improves. It adjusts for any physical setbacks such as injuries and it adjusts for success. It is just that simple.

It is also the consistent encouragement that comes from Jon, Thomas and Craig. That voice that comes to you while you are in the middle of a particularly difficult set – rear-foot elevated split squats comes to mind immediately – that says “good job” or “keep it up” or “just a couple more reps.” To know, in that moment, that you are not alone and the trainer is paying attention to what you are doing. That is priceless for me.

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.

JKC is different from other gyms/fitness regimes I have tried in the past because of my level of comfort with the facility and other JKC clients and the amount of knowledge both Jon and Thomas demonstrate through personal attention to form, core development and overall strength is outstanding. JKC is by far the best training hands on attention that I’ve experienced period and I have experienced many over a lifetime of activity and playing various sports. The facility has everything you require plus, as you will learn there are many ways to use every piece of equipment and Jon and Thomas are very creative! There are many age groups and professions who attend this gym from elite athlete’s to the rest of us and the casual but focused atmosphere in the gym makes each visit interesting, friendly and challenging at all levels.

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