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Heavy lifting for runners: week four

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6 exercises that improve running posture and posterior strength

Movement sparks progress. For high performers, this forward momentum is powered by currents in science, technology, and subculture. To celebrate the launch of ASICS GEL-CUMULUS® 21, Furthermore and ASICS have partnered to harness the power of these currents and show you how to channel them into actual results.

Last week, you strengthened your hip flexors to allow for better extension with each step. When running, that translates into faster strides. When lifting, it gives you the stability you need to rest weight on your back.

That’s important, says Adrianne Nina, Tier 3+ trainer at West Hollywood in California. Back-loaded exercises are more effective at training the hamstrings and glutes than front-loaded ones are, because of the different placement and the ability to go heavier. Those muscles are key to building more forward momentum.

For those reasons, week four in our heavy lifting program sees the addition of the barbell. This routine also more closely mimics running than previous ones have, Nina notes, with walking lunges rather than stationary ones.

As a result, you’ll have the full-body strength necessary to maintain proper running posture and execute strong arm and knee drive. Because of this four-week program, you’ll start your next race training cycle ready to attack the intervals, hills, and long runs that will help you PR in the 5K, marathon, or something in between.

The workout below is divided into three dual-sets, with minimal recovery to lead to hypertrophy (muscle growth). Do it at least twice this week, either as a full routine or before that day’s cardio session, Nina says.

If you don’t feel ready to progress in a particular exercise, replace it with last week’s variation.

Dual-set 1: Barbell back squat

The benefits: trains the posterior chain, important for proper running posture

The load: 70 percent of your one-rep max

Stand with feet just wider than shoulders. Using a rack or spotters, load a barbell onto your back and hold it with both hands. Sit back until knees are bent at 90 degrees. Slowly return to start for one rep. Complete 1 set of 8 to 12 reps. Rest for up to 90 seconds, then start the next exercise.

Dual-set 1: Barbell walking lunges

The benefits: teaches you to maintain stability while moving forward; trains the posterior chain, important for proper running posture

The load: 70 percent of your one-rep max

Using a rack or spotters, load a barbell onto your back and hold it with both hands. Perform walking lunges by lowering to the ground with each step until the back knee is just above the ground and the front knee is bent at 90 degrees. Walk for 40 yards. Recover for up to 90 seconds, then repeat this dual-set 2 more times (for 3 total sets).

Dual-set 2: Single-leg kettlebell deadlift

The benefits: builds contralateral strength and requires you to control weight on one leg, as you do while running

The load: 70 percent of your one-rep max

Stand tall with a kettlebell in the right hand, palm facing toward you. Simultaneously hinge hips, extend the right leg behind you, and lower the kettlebell until chest is parallel to the ground. Slowly return to standing, raising the right knee (instead of planting the foot on the ground) for one rep. Complete 1 set of 8 to 12 reps, then switch sides and repeat. Rest for up to 30 seconds, then start the next exercise.

Dual-set 2: Single bottoms-up carry

The benefits: improves core and shoulder stability; engages the rotator cuff muscle for stronger arm drive

The load: 70 percent of your one-rep max

Stand tall with the right arm bent and a kettlebell in the right hand at chin height, with the bottom up. Walk for 40 yards, keeping the kettlebell in position, then switch sides and repeat. Recover for 30 to 90 seconds, then repeat this dual-set 2 more times (for 3 total sets).

Dual-set 3: Alternating kettlebell swings

The benefits: trains your body contralaterally for better hand-eye coordination

The load: 50 to 70 percent of your one-rep max

Stand with feet just wider than hips. With your left hand, hold a kettlebell on the ground about 12 inches in front of your feet, with your hips hinged and your chest almost parallel to the ground. Lift the weight, swinging it between your legs and up to chest height. At chest height, transfer the kettlebell to the right hand and repeat for one rep. Continue, alternating sides. Complete 1 set of 10 reps. Rest for up to 30 seconds, then start the next exercise.

Dual-set 3: Push-up to row to overhead extension

The benefits: builds thoracic mobility; trains the posterior chain; improves shoulder mobility so you can fully drive your arms both forward and back while running

The load: 50 to 70 percent of your one-rep max

Get in a high plank position with a dumbbell in each hand, shoulders stacked over wrists, and feet together. Perform a push-up. At the top of the movement, simultaneously raise the left dumbbell overhead and rotate your upper body to the left. Slowly return to start for one rep, then switch sides and repeat. Complete 1 set of 12 reps. Recover for 30 to 90 seconds, then repeat this dual-set 2 more times (for 3 total sets).