Adventure Race Training at the Gym – Crunch Fitness Gets You Ready

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Careful. Endurance and adventure race training is not all about racking up cardio miles and hours. Weight lifting comes into play too, as an ultra-important (but often overlooked) component to training for a long distance race. If you want to reduce risk of injury and improve your time, you should be lifting long before you hit the starting line.

Now, here’s the bad news: most athletes training from a cardio-only regimen don’t even race at full performance potential. While their bodies might feel like they reach endurance threshold, with supplemental strength training, chances are they could go harder and faster.

We know, training for an adventure race in a gym sounds crazy, but trust us: if you put time in on the weight circuits, you may see better results and will have better performance recovery and be less injury prone.

The good news? Athletes and gyms are catching on to the trend. Take Crunch, a fitness company with gyms in most major U.S. cities, for example. It crafts small group training programs that run anywhere from five to 20 weeks. Trainers design the program with a specific race in mind (i.e. the NYC Marathon), and modify workouts for individual racers.

You get full bang for your buck because most Crunch personal trainers have raced the challenges themselves, so programs focus not only on physical workouts, but also on much-needed mental prep. They act as quasi coaches. And just over the past year, Crunch saw a 10 percent jump in gym-goers utilizing training programs and equipment for extra explosive and sustained lifting.

According to Crunch Fitness manager Anita Golden, racers trained through an endurance program have seen drastic performance improvements. “It works for first-time racers because it helps them understand what to expect,” said Golden. Many runners who trained alone for their first marathon and race again training through a Crunch program shaved several minutes off their times. “We even had a client that ran a 3:40 in the NYC Marathon. After participating in a strength training program, he ran a 3:17 the following year and qualified for the Boston Marathon.” 

Though Crunch programs differ because they’re race-specific, they all have corrective exercises (think foam roller for tight hips), resistance training, and flexibility exercises. The end goal: to work the muscle groups and hone mental skills needed to become stronger, faster, and more powerful.

Here are two of Golden’s favorite staple Crunch exercises to try on your next visit to the gym. Whether you want a Tough Mudder or a full-fledged marathon under your belt, supplemental strength training is just as crucial as cardio. With a little weight lifting, you never know what could happen with the race clock.

1. Kettlebell Swings

Suggested Reps: Start with 10, work up to 30

Stand, keeping your back straight placing your feet slightly wider than shoulder distance apart. Hold the Kettlebell with two hands, palms facing inward. Bend your knees slightly and push your butt back into a half squat. At the same time, swing the Kettlebell down between your legs. Thrust your hips forward. Bring your legs back to the starting position, swinging the Kettlebell with your arms until it is straight out directly in front of your chest. Release. Repeat.

2. Simple Pull Up

Suggested Reps: Start with 10, work up to 30

Grab the pull up bar placing your hands on top of the bar. Begin to pull up so that your chin is above the top of the bar. Slowly return to starting position. Repeat. The trick with these is to move at a slow, controlled pace to allow your muscles to build strength. Avoid the common mistake of rounding your shoulders. Keep your posture straight to utilizing full range of motion.

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