Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

Food Mistakes

By Cynthia Sass

Whether you earn your living working up a sweat, or squeeze in workouts when you can, it’s easy to fall prey to eating errors that unintentionally hold you back from getting the most out of your workouts. Here are five common missteps I see, and how to correct them to reap the rewards of your hard work.

Eating Too Little Fat Despite my recommendations to include good fats at every meal, like avocado, nuts, seeds and coconut oil, some of my clients remain fat phobic, and will scale back, fearing that fat is “fattening.” But the truth is, getting enough fat is a smart strategy for both sports nutrition and weight control, because fat: delays stomach emptying, so you feel fuller longer; increases satiety, to shut off hunger hormones; boosts antioxidant absorption, which in emerging research is related to leanness; and ups metabolic rate, to help you burn more calories. In fact, fat is one of the most vital nutrients in your diet, because it’s a structural part of your cells, which means you can’t heal a cell or construct a new one without enough fat to perform these important jobs. Cutting back too much can result in fatigue, chronic hunger, or a lack of satiety, irritability, depression, a weaker immune system and an increased injury risk. So even if you’re trying to reduce your body fat percentage, don’t be afraid to add almond butter to a smoothie, top your salad with avocado, and sauté your veggies in extra virgin olive oil. Filling the fat gap can be the key to finally seeing results.

Using A Sports Drink When You Really Don’t Need One If you sweat heavily, work out for more than 90 minutes, or exercise in hot, humid conditions, reaching for a sports drink rather than plain water is a smart way to keep hydrated, stay fueled and replace the electrolytes lost in sweat. But if you’re exercising for less than an hour and a half, in a climate-controlled gym, plain water should be fine. The carbs in sports drinks are designed to keep you going when you can’t stop to eat, but if your muscles don’t need the fuel, just one 20 ounce bottle means consuming a surplus 35 grams of sugar, the amount in about 20 gummy bears. And while unsweetened coconut water is a little lower, an 11-ounce jug still contains 15 grams of potentially unneeded carbs.

Not Eating After A Workout Because You’re Afraid To “Eat Back” What You’ve Burned While it’s true that overcompensating for a workout by eating too much can prevent you from shrinking your fat cells, striking the right balance is key. Working out takes a toll on your body, and having the right raw materials to heal and repair the wear and tear is important for seeing results. In other words, it’s not just the training itself, but the healing from the training, that mends muscles, boosts metabolism and makes you more toned and fit. So while a good hard workout isn’t a license to sit down to a big plate of pasta, or eat dessert every night, you should be eating something afterwards, with a goal of delivering the nutrients your body needs to properly recover.

Only Eating Protein Post Workout While protein is a key recovery nutrient, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. In addition to a lean protein source, like a smart phone-sized portion of fish or chicken or a scoop of lentils, you should aim for plenty of produce (to replenish nutrients and supply antioxidants), a healthy fat source (which also helps muscles heal and optimizes circulation), a small serving of a whole grain, like wild rice or quinoa (to replete glycogen, the carbohydrate stored in muscle tissue, which serves as a primary fuel source during exercise) and of course fluid, preferably good old H2O (to rehydrate). If you exercise after work, a great post-workout recovery dinner would be a stir-fry made with chicken, shrimp or organic tofu, along with a variety of colorful veggies, over a small portion of whole grain rice, topped with sliced almonds or black sesame seeds. For a simple aromatic stir-fry sauce, that’s not loaded with sugar, whisk together a few tablespoons of brown rice vinegar, with a splash of fresh squeezed citrus juice (like tangerine or blood orange), and a dash each of fresh grated ginger, minced garlic and crushed red pepper.

 

Doubling Up On Recovery Meals For my pro athlete clients, I highly recommend eating something like an all natural bar or shake within 30 minutes of the end of a game or a tough training session whenever possible, because starting the recovery process within a half hour has been shown to help maximize healing. But employing this strategy if you’re not a pro can wind up working against you. For example, if you munch on a bar or grab a smoothie on the way out of the gym, then go home and eat dinner, you may be in recovery overkill. While it might not register as a meal, a bar with 30 grams of carbohydrate, 5 grams of fat, and 10 grams of protein is like eating a small turkey sandwich with mayo. And a smoothie can be the equivalent of three to four handfuls of fruit, plus a container of yogurt. Downing these “snacks” just an hour or so before eating a regular dinner, can mean giving your body far more than it needs for recovery, which results in feeding your fat cells, rather than shrinking them. If you’re going to be eating a meal with an hour of leaving the gym, skip the bar and shake. And if it’s going to be a little longer, munch on something like almonds, which supply some protein, good fat and nutrients, to tie you over.

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Here’s a way to keep yourself accountable while training for a far-away race: book your plane ticket.

Destination races—like the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon series, which hosts runs in cities around the world (from the Nice, France 10-miler during Carnaval to a half-marathon in Las Vegas)—are more popular than ever. In fact, nonprofit group Running USA reported that 13.9 million people finished road races in the U.S. in 2011 compared to 5.2 million in 1991, a 170 percent increase.

But doling out the dough for a ticket is just the first step in preparing to compete someplace far away. Jenny Hadfield, author of Running for Mortals and blogger for RunnersWorld.com, shares seven ways to make the most of your training.

1. Simulate the Course Stuck in Boise while you’re training for Boston? Start by scoping your race’s website for the course layout. Then, do what you can. For example, consider the terrain you’ll be running: If you’re training for a race in snow (likely an uneven surface) in Florida, off-road it, since trails give you an idea of the unevenness, Hadfield says. Pro tip: Bookmark running blogs with inside tips on races all over the world and training secrets from beginners, experts, or elite athletes. Check out Pavement Runner, a San Francisco-based runner’s blog that recaps races from 5Ks to full marathons, and ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes’ blog on RunnersWorld.com.

2. Know Your Temps If you’re going from a warmer environment to a cooler one, your training won’t need much adjusting, says Hadfield. “It’s harder for your body to cool itself than warm itself up,” she says. But if you live in a cool climate and will be running in the heat, do some of your runs on the treadmill. “Gyms are usually 68 to 72 degrees,” Hadfield says. That temperature change can make a big difference—you won’t be bundled up, and you’ll be able to notice little things that could be game-changers on race day, like where your shorts chafe.

3. Pack Smart Wearing compression gear post-workout can reduce muscle aches and soreness, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. In fact, people who wore compression clothes felt about half as much soreness 2 days later than those who didn’t, the research found. Though it has been reported that such clothes help with circulation, researchers think the magic is more in the fact that compression gear reduces swelling and, along with it, pain. Hadfield likes CEP’s recovery socks and tights ($59.95, $199.95 respectively; cepcompression.com).

4. Book an Aisle Seat According to recent research in the journal Chest, window seats on a plane increase your odds of suffering from dangerous blood clots called deep venous thromboses (DVTs). Some studies have suggested a window seat can increase the risk two-fold, mainly because you’re more likely to get up and stretch your legs from an aisle seat—something that’s vital for circulation. No matter where you sit, move around every hour or so. If you can’t get up, flex and stretch your feet to get the blood flowing. Remember, blood clots aren’t an old person’s problem—a high percentage of people who get them on planes are active and young, says Hadfield.

5. Order Tomato Juice on the Plane A Japanese study of 40 people on a 9-hour flight found that drinking one carbohydrate-electrolyte drink (like tomato juice) per hour was more effective at helping people retain fluid than drinking water. The people who had the carbohydrate-electrolyte drink also saw no increase in blood viscosity—a precursor to clots—while the water group did. Electrolytes help balance fluids, which your body can lack after a long workout. A sport drink will work, too: The concoction in the study was 110 milligrams (mg) of sodium and 30 mg of potassium per 8 ounces (oz). Gatorade is similar with 160 mg of sodium and 45 mg of potassium per 12 oz.

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Burpee Equivalents:  Understanding Junk Food in terms of Your Favorite Exercise

by Dr. Jeff Godin, Ph.D., CSCS, & Spartan Coach

Occasionally we slip up with our diets and sneak in some junk calories. When we do, we have to pay the price…In Burpees!  At Spartan Coaching HQ we have been conducting research to quantify energy expenditure during the Burpee exercise.  Here is what we found:

Burpee

 

Calories (kcals)

burpees for 130lb individual

burpees for 180lb individual

1 large French Fries

500

524

349

1 IPA beer

195

204

136

1 Slice of Dominos Peperoni Pizza

260

272

182

1 8 ounce Ted’s Bison Cheesburger

730

765

510

1 scoop of Ben Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream

270

283

189

1 12” Roast beef sub from Subway

970

1016

677

1 Cola soft drink

200

210

140

1 Fried Calamari Appetizer

700

733

489

1 Plain Bagel

320

335

223

1 Slice of Cheescake

1000

1048

698

1 Egg McMuffin Sandwich

300

314

210

1 Cadbury Creme Egg

59

62

41

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How Often Should You Eat?

Posted: November 30, 2012 in Fitness, Nutrition
Tags: , ,

Here is a great article that I found on USnews.com.  It discusses the different diets and recommendations for eating frequency.  I am a firm believe in several small meals a day but I can see how that might not work for everyone.  Enjoy the Article!

 

I’m amazed at the emotions that charge the answer to the question of  how many times a day we should be eating. Some people swear by six small  meals, while others stress three square ones. Others argue that two  daily meals, or even one, will suffice. I’ve also met folks who  passionately believe that snacking ensures a successful diet, while others firmly believe that diets can fail on snacks alone.

The  medical literature isn’t much help in these matters. There are studies  clearly demonstrating that frequent eating benefits weight management.  Other studies, however, show that frequent eating leads to caloric  excess.

So how is it possible for there to be so much division and passion,  both in opinion and in evidence, for a singular behavior? How can eating  more frequently be at once fattening and thinning? The answer depends  on both the foods and the individuals involved.

First,  let’s start with whether or not snacking is helpful or harmful to  weight management. Undoubtedly, the answer depends almost entirely on  the snacks. University of Alberta researchers recently found that a  drink and a snack from a vending machine  would provide 15 teaspoons of sugar and 433 calories—roughly the  caloric equivalent of a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder. By those  calculations, people who snack on food from a vending machine may well  find their waistlines challenged.

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By Vanessa Rodriguez For Active.com

Although we know good nutrition is crucial for training, shelling out those extra few dollars for healthier groceries can be painful. These practical tips can help you meet the needs of both your budget and your body.

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1. Establish your priorities. How important is good nutrition to you? Answering this question honestly can help you determine how much money you are willing to invest in your food. It’s difficult to spend money on things we don’t prioritize. Once we decide that our nutrition is something we want to invest in, it’s easier to make the following changes.

2. Plan and prepare. When it comes to food, saving money always means investing more time in planning and preparation. Yes, we love the convenience of food on-the-go. But eliminating them from your grocery runs can instantly slash our expenses. Be prepared to start washing, chopping, storing, and freezing. Sit down and plan your meals out for the entire week. Make a grocery list and stick to it.

3. Invest in a freezer. If you have the space, this can save you major dollars in the long term. Buy good meat in bulk. Buy entire animals if you can. Get fruits and vegetables in large quantities when they are in season (and therefore the cheapest), then freeze them for use throughout the year.

4. Invest in a nutrition or cooking class. Get a few friends together for a group session to save money. Pay for just a few consultations or classes to cover the basics. Learn to read food labels and get a grocery store tour (be careful when attending free tours—they are usually sponsored by a company with a vested interest in what you buy, so you won’t always be getting completely transparent information).

Spending money on a nutritionist may initially seem counterproductive, but there’s nothing worse than finding out that you’ve been spending all your money on food you thought was healthy, but really wasn’t. Many labels like natural, raw, and whole wheat are not regulated and can be used to sell products at a higher price. A nutritionist can teach you how to determine which foods live up to their labels and which are just clever marketing.

5. Sit down for meals. You’ll be amazed at how much more you eat when you’re on the run. Make time for meals. Sit at an actual table. You generally eat less if you eat with others, plus you are more likely to enjoy your food.

6. Pay more but eat less. Buy higher quality foods but pay attention to your portions. It’s important to accomplish this without feeling hungry, which is very possible by eating the right foods. Fruits and vegetables contain significant amounts of water and are therefore more filling. Whole grains are more satisfying than white flour-based products. In the end you feel full by eating less.

7. Choose your battles. You don’t have to buy everything organic. Pick and choose according to your means, but keep in mind that there are certain foods with higher pesticide loads (and therefore better bought organic). You can find a list of these foods here.

8. Get to know your food community. Most cities have some sort of resource for getting fresh food at a good price. It could be a community garden, a food box program, or a farmer’s market. A little bit of research into your local options can go a long way.

9. Remember that any change is good change. Don’t get discouraged. Your body is the greatest asset you own. Eating well may take up more of your time, but it can also help you live longer and feel happier. You’re stuck with your body for life; how you prioritize your food is ultimately your choice.

Vanessa Rodriguez is the former nutrition editor for Active.com. She is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and an avid ultra-distance trail runner.

by Coach Al Lyman, CSCS, FMS, HKC

      Image      Recently, there has been debate in triathlon circles about the benefit of brick runs. A new school of thought has swept in claiming that running off the bike in training serves no purpose and is of little use. After years of thought on this topic as a coach, and much personal experimentation as an athlete and movement specialist here in our gait analysis lab, here is my perspective on the debate.

In brief, I believe brick runs have great value, but not necessarily for the reasons most people think. In my opinion, the issue of running off the bike should not be presented as a training dilemma or time-saving problem to be solved. Brick runs, in fact, present the opportunity to solve a very important physical MOVEMENT issue for triathletes.

What I know from my work in our gait analysis lab, and confirmed from my own experience, is that it is VERY challenging to get the posterior chain-the glutes, in particular-working properly to be able to run well after cycling. I have personally spent a lot of time practicing and experimenting with ways to trigger better glute activation and involvement before a brick run. I have worked on correct hip flexor stretching, and various dynamic stretching of the entire anterior hip region in order to better activate the posterior chain. I can tell you with certainty that it is very difficult to get the back side of our body going after being on a bike for any length of time. And, to be clear, to run to your potential your posterior chain-including the glutes-has to not only be firing, but must be strong.

But why do the glutes stubbornly refuse to activate off the bike? It is due to a real physiologic phenomenon known as reciprocal inhibition. Reciprocal inhibition causes the muscles on one side of a joint to relax to accommodate contraction on the other side of that joint. The posture of cycling involves sustained hip flexion, making the hip flexors short and tight. Reciprocal inhibition then causes the hip extensors, especially the gluteus maximus, to shut down markedly. As we discuss further, you will see how brick runs work effectively to counter this phenomenon.

The discoveries I have made in my own training, as well as what I see in the athletes I coach, prove to me that the following elements are absolutely crucial to one’s ability to optimize the run portion of a triathlon:

– You must first understand how important the glutes are in running. And its NOT enough that your glutes are strong (although they MUST be STRONG), they must also be able to act as the PRIMARY extendor of the hip, which is their role. Sometimes the hamstring or low back, due to compensation, tries to over take the role of the glute. First order of business for you is to eliminate compensation wherever possible so that the glutes are doing their job, and then via a platform of functional strength training, get them strong.

– You must understand that the glutes work to create hip extension when running to power you down the road. When coming off the bike, the glutes are not doing that job well at all due to reciprocal inhibition. The longer the ride, the greater the inhibition. Therefore…

– It is imperative to PRACTICE running off the bike frequently to develop a precise, in-tune FEEL of what it takes to get the glutes working effectively. How can you do that?

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I found this article and recipe by Marni Sumbal and I thought I would share it on my site.  As an endurance athlete I find it very hard to keep from eating everything in site after long workouts.  These habits and this recipe will help not over indulge from the post workout cravings.  Like any recipe you can make modifications to better suit your taste or for what is in your cabinet.  I replaced the tofu with grilled chicken, the wild rice with plain brown rice, and I left out the nutty dip.   Other than that I kept everything the same.  I hope you guys enjoy the tips and feel free to add a comment on how you modified the recipe or if you liked it.

Two strategies that I find very effective for a healthy balance in athletes and fitness enthusiasts are:

  1. Rearrange your plate with similar foods, emphasizing nutrient-dense options
  2. Assess before you act

For the first point — you will see my recipe below which could be titled either “rice bowl with veggies” or, for more nutritional value and nutrient density, “veggie bowl with rice.” I find this very effective for individuals who struggle with portions, have trouble making healthy changes in the diet (to be long-lasting) or struggle with giving up (or eliminating) favorite foods. This makes it much easier to make slow, gradual changes by introducing more healthful items (like veggies) but not completely give-up some of your favorites.

As we all know, habits can be changed. Learning new behaviors doesn’t happen quickly so by making a few swaps you may find yourself gravitating to a new style of eating. I also find this a fantastic tip for all those who have considered an off-limit food list to change body composition. When working with athletes I coach, we say no food is off-limits but we always address how that food makes us feel and how it helps us reach our goals, which leads me to my second point.

This is for those who struggle with second portions, deciding what to have for a meal or snack or struggling with cravings for that after-meal/mid-day sugary treat. This one is simple to suggest but often a struggle at first to implement. Before every meal or snack, ask yourself how that food will make you feel when you eat. You should strive to feel better after you eat than before you started. I find this very useful for individuals who eat a meal but always need that extra something after a meal. I certainly find nothing wrong with a nice small piece of dark chocolate but for those who always have ice cream after dinner or can’t stop after one bowl of cereal or 2 pieces of bread, just ask yourself: “How will this food make me feel when I am done?”

Like I said it sounds very simple but this can make the difference of eating 1/2 cookie and feeling very satisfied with your small portion of a treat after dinner versus having 2 cups of ice cream with chocolate syrup, granola and a few berries on top.

I hope you enjoy my latest creation. It is inspired by the rice bowl at Moe’s Southwest Grill. If these vegetables are not your favorite, feel free to swap in veggies that you enjoy most.

Veggie Bowl with Rice

 

  • Broccoli
  • Corn
  • Green peas
  • Leeks
  • Fresh basil
  • Red bell pepper
  • Green bell pepper
  • Tofu
  • Olive oil
  • Curry powder
  • Nutty dip
  • Wild Rice — cook according to package/box/bag (if seasoning is in separate bag, I recommend using 1/4 of the seasoning rather than the entire package)
  1. In large skillet on low-medium heat, cover bottom of pan with 1-2 Tbsp olive oil.
  2. Add veggies (recommend to steam corn, peas and broccoli for 1:30 in microwave) and tofu and stir occasionally.
  3. When tofu begins to turn golden brown, add sliced leeks (you can use chives or onion) and basil (chopped).
  4. Turn off heat when mixture is soft (around 12-18 minutes depending on heat) and add 1-2 Tbsp nutty dip and stir gently.
  5. Cover and let sit for 1-2 minutes.
  6. In large bowl, add 1 serving of rice (recommend 1/3 – 1/2 cup wild rice to start) to your veggie mixture. Mix and enjoy!

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Posted: June 13, 2012 in Fitness

Smiley's Healthy Way of Life

When using exercise equipment or when you look at workout videos, they always seem to tell you that your burn rate is up to 1000* calories per hour. The truth is each person doing the workout will burn calories at a different rate. Someone at 200 lbs may burn 800* calories when someone who is 130 lbs may only burn 200*. To accurately measure your calories burned, you will need to use a heart rate monitor.
*Calories are just for an example. Exact amounts must be calculated.

A heart rate monitor* is a device that measures your heart rate in real time.

*Click on hear rate monitor to see some examples.

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A toned, flat tummy is a goal many of us strive to achieve in time for bathing suit season, but endless crunches and ditching all your favorite foods until July 4th isn’t the right–or fun–way to do it. A sculpted core and trim tummy can be attained by incorporating small changes into your day, like holding in your abs while you walk and adding the right healthy fats to your diet. In our lean belly guide, you’ll get diet and exercise tips that will help you eliminate hard-to-reach ab flab and reveal a sculpted, sexy midsection. Here, learn 25 ways to flatten your belly by summer.

Take Your Gossip Session On A Walk
Instead of catching up with friends over food and drinks, suggest a reunion on the move-you’re likely to work out 104% harder if you have an exercise buddy. Suggest a weekly walk-and-talk session, form a friendly fitness club, or take advantage of gym specials together. You’ll motivate everyone to get moving while you grow even closer.

Deflate Your Muffin Top With The Roll-Up
Hold a resistance band taut between hands and lie on the floor face up, with legs extended and arms overhead. Pull abs in, tuck your chin, lift arms toward the ceiling, and roll head, shoulders, and torso up and over your legs as far as you can. Keep heels firmly on the floor and reach hands towards your feet. Pause, then slowly roll back down. Do 5 to 8 reps with 30 minutes of cardio 5 to 6 times a week.

Make Time For Cardio

If you want to burn the most belly fat, a Duke University study confirms that aerobic exercise is the most effective in burning that deep, visceral belly fat. In fact, aerobic training burns 67% more calories than resistance training or a combination of the two, according to the study. 

Try Out Spidey Moves
Eliminate spillover spots with the Spiderman Climber: Get into plank position with arms and legs extended, hands beneath shoulders, and feet flexed. Keeping your abs tight, bend your left leg out to the side and bring the knee toward the left elbow. Pause, then return to start. Switch sides. Do 20 reps, alternating sides, with 30 minutes of cardio 5 to 6 times a week.

Fight Fat With Fiber
For every 10 grams of fiber you eat daily, your belly will carry almost 4% less fat. Thankfully, there are more enjoyable ways to increase your fiber than scarfing down a box of bran flakes: Two apples, ½ cup of pinto beans, one artichoke, or two cups of broccoli will all give you 10 grams of belly-flattening fiber.

Be Pushy At Restaurants
Saying, “I’ll go last” when the waiter comes around could be adding bulk to your belly. A recent study showed that a normal-weight woman was more likely to mimic a thin woman’s eating habits than an obese woman’s. So when you’re out for girl’s night, order first. You’ll keep yourself, and maybe even a friend or two, on track to a flatter tummy. 

Do the Windshield Wiper.
Lie face up with arms out to your sides, palms down, and legs bent at 90 degrees so feet are off the floor. Keep abs tight and slowly lower legs to the left as far as possible, keeping shoulders on the floor. Pause, then return to start. Repeat to the right. Do 20 reps, alternating sides. 

Clean Your House

One more reason to start your spring-cleaning: Vacuuming is a great ab workout. Tighten your abdominal muscles while you push back and forth for a tighter tummy while you clean.

Cut Back On The Pretzels
Too much salt will make you retain more fluid, which contributes to a puffy appearance and extra water weight.

Fry Fat With The Boat Move
Target your deepest ab muscles with The Boat: Lie face up on a mat with arms straight up over chest. Lift your upper body off the ground by rolling through the spine. At the same time, raise your legs so that you’re balancing on your butt, knees bent and shins parallel to the ground. Slowly roll back down onto the mat, lowering legs. That’s 1 rep. Do 5 reps per set, resting 30 to 60 seconds between sets.

Add This Green Fruit to Your Diet
Just half an avocado contains 10 grams of MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids), which halt blood sugar spikes that tell your body to store fat around your belly. Eat these in ¼ cup servings to ward off belly fat without overdoing it. 

Play Catch
Get into a crunch position-lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, shoulders and head off the floor with your abs contracted. Then have someone throw an exercise ball (or basketball) to you-first to your left side so you have to twist and reach to catch it, and then to your right. Do this as many times as is comfortable, and try to increase the number each week.

Skip Your Daily Soda Habit
Where do you think all those bubbles from carbonated drinks end up? They gang up in your belly! Swap soda, diet soda, and seltzer for water or water with lemon juice.

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By Jessi Stensland For Active.com

Having the ability to run downhill fast does not happen by chance. The same rules of efficient running apply whether you’re on the open road or a rocky trail, uphill or downhill.

In simple terms, when the foot hits the ground with a certain amount of force, the better the body is at scooping that energy back up as the foot leaves the ground and not letting it “leak out”, the more efficient, fast and powerful your running can be.

When running efficiently downhill, gravity is your friend. If the body is unable to handle the momentum, it will be forced to put on the brakes to maintain control down the hill. This means a runner will miss out on the advantage of gravity, and will actually have to use some of their energy to fight the force that could be helping them downhill!

There are a few factors that come into play during efficient downhill running, both on and off-road. It’s not about different mechanics or a different style of running than when on flat ground. Think about it as maintaining proper running mechanics and keeping your legs under you as long as you can at the highest speed you can handle.

In the case of extreme trail running, it is also important not only to have the leg speed, but also the coordination and quick reaction time needed to either utilize and/or avoid obstacles along the way.

To do all of this requires proper running mechanics, key muscles activated, stability through the joints and strong, elastic muscles.

1. Proper Running Mechanics As in all running, the foundation of running efficiently downhill relies upon maintaining tall posture and a strong circular motion of the legs underneath the body. In its simplest terms, this means lifting the knees out in front, foot striking directly beneath the body and then pulling the heel back around to start again.

In general, I see many people running lower-leg dominant instead of from their hips, with minimal knee raise. This alone would greatly reduce the ability to keep up with momentum while running downhill and certainly make it necessary to put on the brakes very early on.

2. Activating the Abs and Glutes In any type of movement, the abdominals and the glutes are important to both force production and overall control of the body. Activating and utilizing them properly within your running mechanics gives the body much greater control over the legs. It also minimizes the impact on the quadriceps and knees that so often take most of the beating during downhill running.

Having that control is pivotal to taking advantage of gravity and keeping control over the momentum, especially while avoiding obstacles when on the trail. Be sure to integrate core strength and stability work along with glute activation exercises in your training.

3. Joint Stability Your ability to maintain stability through your spine, hips, knees and ankles during each step is crucial to controlling you body’s direction and forward speed as you hit the ground. Having strong muscles surrounding the joints is key to creating this stability.

Your joint muscles can be strengthened with single- and double-leg strength and balance exercises that challenge both linear and lateral movements. Especially for extreme trail running, being able to remain stable during quick changes in direction is not only great for preventing injury, but helps with quickness and agility.

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