Strength Tools

What’s Included?

  • What are they
  • When to use them
  • Recommended brands

Dumbells

What Are They?

Dumbbells are a type of free weight used to add additional resistance to your workout. While working out with just your bodyweight is still beneficial and effective, adding additional weight with dumbbells can be an easy, convenient, and simple way to get more out of your workouts (especially if you don’t have access to a gym with weight machines).

Dumbbells are great because they come in such a wide variety of weight ranges depending upon your needs and goals. They allow you to gradually increase the challenge level by moving up weights as you’re ready – allowing you to continue adapting and improving your strength with progressive overload. Dumbbells can be used in endless ways with endless exercises & they can have numerous benefits including more muscle, increased stabilizing and muscle activation, balance, fat burning, and more.

When to Use?

You can use dumbbells during nearly any workout – but it’s a great option for workouts that you’re looking to really maximize and/or when you’re seeking to increase the challenge level of your workouts. Once you’ve mastered the basic movements without weights, then you can gradually seek to incorporate weighted dumbbell versions of these movements & exercises to continue pushing yourself to new levels.

The CDC recommends that adults get at least 2 days of strength training per week – and runners specifically can benefit greatly from adding strength training to their weekly routine. Dumbbells are also a great opportunity to balance out muscle imbalances and/or to target specific muscles and weaknesses.

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Resistance Bands

What Are They?

Resistance bands are elastic, stretchable, bands used for strength training, balance, mobility, rehabilitation, and more. They come in a wide variety of lengths, thicknesses, and tensions (from extra light to extra heavy). Resistance bands are a great tool for adding additional challenge and resistance to your workout – which requires your body to work harder, build muscle, and adapt to new levels. They’re a great option once you’ve mastered a basic movement or exercise & you’re ready to add some extra challenge!

When to Use?

You can use resistance bands in MANY different ways & for MANY different purposes:
Before a workout or run to activate muscles & get them ready for movements
For correcting muscle imbalances & strengthening specific muscle groups
During a workout – they’re great for adding some extra challenge to those leg exercises (squats, lunges, bridges, single leg exercises, etc.)

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Yoga Balls

What Are They?

Yoga balls can be a great way to work on your balance and stability – which can be CRUCIAL for runners. Yoga balls are often used to add some instability to workouts, which challenges your body in new and/or different ways than usual. In addition, yoga balls can be used as a tool for recovery, rehabilitation exercises, and for taking pressure off of certain joints/muscle groups during exercises.

For example, when you’re doing a regular wall sit your back is firmly against the wall & it’s easy to stay in control of the movement. When doing a wall-sit with a yoga ball behind your back, you will need to use additional balance and stability in your back to keep your body stable & ensure that your center of gravity stays firm. This will strengthen your back muscles & core muscles because you’re continuously correcting your movement and thus strengthening those areas of the body.

Yoga balls are great for spine, back, and abdominal health & well-being, and they’re a great way to add some additional challenge to workouts and exercises.

When to Use?

Yoga balls are usually incorporated into workouts when one is seeking to develop additional strength in the pelvis, back, abdominal, or spine. They can also be used to relieve some tension from regular exercises such as the wall sit, back extensions, crunches, glute bridges, and more. If you feel that you need more work with your stability, form, or posture as a runner – then incorporating some exercises with a stability ball may give you some extra bang for your buck with your workout!

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Kettle Bells

What Are They?

Kettlebells are another type of free weight (like dumbbells) but they are designed with a different shape. Kettlebells look like a bell with a flat bottom & a curved handle – this means that the weight is centered vs. distributed on both ends like a dumbbell. Much like dumbbells, kettlebells come in a variety of weights ranging from very light to extremely heavy. They’re a great tool for adding additional challenge and resistance to your exercises – especially the more dynamic movements such as swings, squats, lunges, and pulls.

When to Use?

Much like free weight dumbbells, kettlebells can be easily incorporated into ANY workout & can add additional challenge and resistance for increased benefits, power, and muscle development. Once you’ve mastered a movement or exercises & have the correct form – then it’s a great time to add some additional challenge with kettlebells!

You can use them for exercises that have a lot of movement – swings, around the body passes, rows, figure 8’s, pulls, windmills, and more! Just make sure to properly warm-up and prepare your body for any work with kettlebells – because of the increased power and resistance, kettlebells can pose a risk of injury if you attempt to do a kettlebell exercise before mastering the movement & preparing your body for extra weight.

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Platform/Step

What Are They?

Steps or platforms are a great tool for cardio workouts, strength workouts, and stability/balance work. Step platforms are very versatile & can be used to increase the challenge level of an exercise OR decrease the challenge level – depending upon the height of the platform, the intensity of the movement, and the type of movement. They are often times adjustable, so you can use them for a number of exercises & can continue to adjust as you build experience and strength.

When to Use?

Steps and platforms can be used to add some cardio to your workout, to add some lower body work, and to increase the challenge level of a workout (instead of doing a normal squat or squat jump, you could jump up onto the platform). Steps are also great for adding some stability and balance work to your routine (step up to balance, single leg exercises, etc.). They can also be a great way to include some lateral movements (standing side by side with the platform and side stepping up). You can incorporate a step into your regular workout routine or do some step-specific workouts.

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Amy Haas
Run with Aim, LLC
UESCA Certified Running Coach
NASM Certified Personal Trainer
NASM Certified Nutrition Coach

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