Archive for March, 2020


“With the right mindset you can turn your weaknesses into your strengths”

Since partial lockdowns (due to Covid19) have been announced I have chatted with a number of athletes whose biggest question is basically “What am I going to do now?”

Well given the restrictions we face I think the answer is obvious – use the time to target your physical weaknesses and turn them into your running strengths.

There are times where we all hit a plateau – where performance just don’t seem to really improve. Even worse there are times when we seem to be constantly plagued by niggly injuries that hamper both performance and enjoyment (think plantar fasciitis, lower back pain, sore hips, Achilles tendonitis).

Runners are really good at saying “I am not fit enough… I better run more” but quite possibly even larger improvement lies in decreasing the effect of your physical weaknesses – therefore improving your running efficiency – saving you energy, making you smoother and … making you faster.

Those that have been following us for a while will know that I passionately believe in the ability of strength training to transform running performance. I have written a number of blogs on this topic. If you haven’t caught up with them the links are below:

Work on the right areas consistently and you will be ready to hit the next parkrun (whenever that may eventually be) in good shape to hit a new PB.


It’s a matter of getting the “best bang for your buck” – in other words where is my running body weakest and how is it impacting my running. Below are the key areas I would examine – and some suggested exercises you might be able to do at home (with minimal equipment) to focus on them

Calves (my personal nemesis and focus, therefore, of much of my own training):

  • Calf Raises – straight leg, bend leg (seated), double leg, single leg, over a ledge, barefoot
  • Pogos (straight leg bouncing)
  • Straight leg rebounds (step of a low box and rebound)
  • Rope skipping


  • Heel slides – single and double leg
  • Reverse Lunges
  • Straight leg bounds
  • Arabesques

Glute (Max – the power unit of our running)

  • Hip Bridging – double and single leg
  • Reverse Hypers
  • Butterfly Hip Thrusts
  • Squats
  • Wall Sit

Glute (Med – for hip stability)

  • Clams
  • Exploding Clams
  • Side Plank variations: for time – arm &/or leg movement, raised
  • Side lying leg raises
  • Lateral Jumps
  • Lateral Hops
  • Curtsy Lunges
  • Skater Lunges
  • Alternating arm arabesques


  • Plank Variations: for time, elbows to hands, dolphin, lateral pull throughs, forward pulls, rotating
  • Bear Walks – forward/backward/lateral
  • “Dead Ants”: Holds, alternating arm leg lowers, resisted lowers, same side lowers
  • Hanging leg lifts

Combined Plyometric Options

  • Squat Jumps
  • Split Jumps
  • Split Lunge Jumps
  • Tuck Jumps

This is very far from a complete list but there is a cross section of very effective exercise from low level to explosive.


  1. Choose your area of weakness
  2. Choose 1-3 exercises that target that area. If you chose multiple exercises try to choose ones that target the muscle slightly different from each other
  3. Complete 2-3 sets of 12-15reps.
  4. Progress from double leg to single leg to explosive as you develop competency and strength through each phase
  5. In strengthening the weakness, start with slow controlled movement – keeping the muscle under tension for extended periods of time through the full range of motion. Develop controlled speed as your competency improves.
  6. The final stage is adding explosive movements. Start with low reps 1-5 and 4-5 sets.  Keep these explosive by not taking reps higher than 8

***Remember this is NOT running conditioning – this is strengthening. Our aim is to make your weaker muscles more stable, stronger and more dynamic to improve running efficiency so we can IMPROVE YOUR PARKRUN PB***

If you would like more information and/or more assistance in exercise selection and prescription feel free to contact Damn Fit Strength and Conditioning: or visit the website

(Re)Building the Masters Sprinter

The Power in the Posterior Chain

When Masters athletes contact us and want to train for sprints they generally fall in to one of four categories:

  • Never competed before but used to feel pretty fast “as a kid”
  • Have been doing parkruns but feel they are supposed to run faster (and much less distance)
  • Ran as a youth and/or young adult and want to get back into it
  • Currently compete but want to improve (or at least not slow down as they age)

No matter which category they fall into we look very early at the effectiveness of their posterior chain.


The posterior chain refers to the muscles are the rear of the body. The Posterior Chain is made of four major muscle groups:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Calves
  • Spinal erectors

 Posterior chain exercises involve contracting and lengthening the muscles in a chain like manner


Hunter Charnesk, the American Physical Preparation expert, describes the Posterior Chain as the “GO” muscles. Despite sprinters generally having very impressive physiques, the muscles we want to develop lie in the power generating engine and not in the “show” muscles. The key component of that engine is the hips. Power is generated by extension of the hip muscles to drive foot into the track. The other muscles of the posterior chain support and sustain control as the hip goes to work.


We need to build strength in each component of the posterior chain. As we progress our training will become more explosive. We also need to ensure that each component of the chain works in synchronicity with the others to ensure the most efficient flow of power and that we don’t have energy leakages.

Below we have listed some of our key exercises for developing the posterior chain. To suit each athlete, and to progress or regress the exercise as needed we can:

  1. Add or decrease volume
  2. Add or decrease speed
  3. Add or decrease weight
  4. Alter foot/hand placement
  5. Alter rest periods
  6. Adjust range of motion


  • Supine Bridge
  • Hip Thrust
  • Squats


  • Roman Chair /45 degree back extension*
  • Good mornings*
  • Glute – Ham – Calf Raise*
  • Nordics
  • Deadlifts*
  • Rack pulls*
  • Kettle Bell Swings*


  • Double leg calf raises (standing and seated)
  • Single Leg calf raises (standing and seated)
  • Pogos
  • Straight leg rebounds
  • Rope skipping

Spinal Erectors

  • Any of the above exercise marked with “*”
  • Reverse hypers (also a great glute exercise)
  • Bent over rows

Exercise such as the Olympic lifts (and their derivatives and variations), sled pulls and prowler pushes are means we use in the gym to develop the co-ordination and efficiency of the posterior chain.

For more information on how Strength and Conditioning programmes can help you improve your sporting performance go to