Tag Archives: running

3 of My Favorite Strengthening Exercises

by Kathleen Parker

by Kathleen Parker

“Having been a runner most of my life, it is only in the last 7 or so years that I have actively and regularly strength trained with weights and bodyweight …Running for 40 years became very boring and also was not great for my joints — mainly my knees — because I was not strengthening the muscles around my joints and knees.

…My epiphany was realizing that once you build long lean muscle doing resistance training, your RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) greatly increases, so now even while I am resting, I am burning more calories than I ever was in my 30’s, 40’s and even my 20’s because I now do regular strength training!”
 Read more about Kathleen’s journey from runner to strength training enthusiast

Here, 3 of Kathleen’s favorite strength training exercises to Power Up your body and your exercise routine:

Complete 15 reps of each exercise, with a 30 second rest between each exercise.  Find the right amount of weight to use by selecting a weight that is difficult to lift after 10-12 reps.

bulgarianlunge_igniteyourlifeStep by Step:

  1. Using free weights in each hand, elevate one foot on a step behind you.
  2. As you do a lunge, focus on moving your torso up and down, not pushing it forward. Keep your weight balanced evenly through your front foot and press into the floor with your front heel to come back up to the start position, which works and tones more lower-body muscle.
  3. Do not lean forward or let your front knee extend past your front toe.
  4. Complete 15 per leg.


  • Dramatically improves core strength and balance, as well as agility because it isolates one leg
  • Produces noticeable muscle and strength gains in the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings
  • Reduces risk of injury by minimizing strength and muscular differences between your left and right side


Step by Step:

  1. With your hands on the weights at shoulder’s width apart, extend your legs outward into a full push-up position. This is your starting point, ending point and point of stability.
  2. Tighten your core, firmly straighten your left arm, and slowly row the right weight upward until your upper arm is slightly higher than your torso.
  3. Hold one second at the top and then slowly lower the weight back down.
  4. Keep your chest and hips parallel to the floor throughout and try not to rock or sway to one side.
  5. Repeat the same motion with your left arm. Again, keep your core engaged and tight throughout this exercise. This is a great core exercise!
  6. Complete 15 per side.


  • It’s a compound exercise that strengthens your muscles throughout your back, including the trapezius, lats, rhomboids, simultaneously working the biceps, forearms, and rear deltoids.
  • Works the muscles that draw back your shoulder blades, improving posture
  • Forces the abdominals to contract and work hard to stabilize your body — especially the obliques — strengthening the entire body from head to toe in the process!

deadlift_howtoStep by Step:

  1. Using heavy free weights or a barbell, stand up straight with shoulders down and back.
  2. Bend (hinge) from the hips, keeping a flat back: when bending down, act as if you are holding a tray of drinks and need to close the door behind you with your backside. This helps you push your hips back instead of rounding your lower back — a form blunder that puts you at risk for back problems.  Keep the weights as close to your legs as possible, as if you are shaving your legs with the weights or barbell.
  3. Go down as far as your flexibility will allow you, then squeeze your glutes as tight as possible to lift the weights back up to standing, keeping shoulders back and down away from your ears. Squeezing the glutes will engage your butt rather than straining your lower back.
  4. Remember to always keep those abdominals tight, as you should with any strength exercise that you do!
  5. Complete 15 reps


  • One of the top glute strengtheners
  • Increases your core strength and adds to core stability
  • Targets all of the muscles responsible for your posture and enables you to keep your back straighter during regular daily activities
  • Works your lower and upper body, including your back muscles
  • Develops the muscles you need to carry things, such as heavy grocery bags and suitcases
  • Builds amazing grip strength — your forearms also work hard!
  • Can help prevent injuries by increasing the strength of your muscles and critical tendons and ligaments. Supporting joints with strong muscles is crucial to preventing injury, especially in the hamstrings and lower back.

Power Up | iGnite Your Life

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Strength Training to Better Power Your Run


by Kathleen Parker

by Kathleen Parker

Do you want to improve your sprinting/running/walking ability to get maximum gain for your effort?  Well, here’s how: build lean muscle to power your run!

And you ask… how do I do that?

1.  STRONG ABS improve posture.


An upright stance will help you easily pick up speed!

In a study, runners who did core work for 6 weeks ran more efficiently, shaving 42 seconds off their 5K times.


iGnite strength by the lake

Yes, a strong back and arms combined with a lower-body routine can quicken your pace by 5%!

3. Work on building STRONG HAMSTRINGS!

bridge pose

bridge pose

What makes running really tough? Getting hurt. Studies have shown that strengthening the muscles in the back of your legs can help prevent injury.

4. STRONG QUADRICEPS are a must!

squat to shoulder press with resistance band

When runners added squats and weighted squats to their strength workouts, they could run 21% longer and were 5% faster!
Keep moving!

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Kathleen’s Health-Changing Journey from Runner to Strength Enthusiast!

by Kathleen Parker

by Kathleen Parker

It is MID SUMMER in Austin, Texas, and I still always look forward to returning to this fun city from any destination!
After a week of vacation I would love to share with you some great information that I found and my thoughts on it.

Having been a runner most of my life, it is only in the last 7 or so years that I have actively and regularly strength trained with weights and bodyweight. I have always been active on the lake skiing, which requires pulling strength, but besides that I was not regularly doing much in the way of strength training.

It occurred to me over vacation sitting on the beach having my second vodka tonic that over the past few years, my vacations have become so much more pleasant! I get up a little later than usual and dive in to the activities that are available wherever I am — fun activities. This was not always the case. For SO many years — mainly in my 30’s and 40’s — I felt the need to get up early on vacation and go run down the road, pounding my feet down the concrete path before I could enjoy my day. This would make me feel “better” about myself, but many times it would interrupt time that should have been spent enjoying the morning on the beach, or enjoying the local activities, or the people I was with. I remember many times getting up to run at 5 am if I had an early flight to catch to offset the travel day of sitting. Needless to say, doing that for 40 years became very boring and also was not great for my joints — mainly my knees — because I was not strengthening the muscles around my joints and knees.

The epiphany I had was realizing that once you build long lean muscle doing resistance training, your RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) GREATLY INCREASES, so while I am now sitting on the beach, I am BURNING MORE CALORIES THAN I EVER WAS in my 30’s, 40’s and even my 20’s. So, not only does resistance training increase lean muscle mass which burns more calories, but as your muscle mass increases and your % body fat decreases, you will achieve a leaner and more toned YOU.

For those of you who like to hear the research to back up these claims, here’s the  factual information to back this up that inspired my recent epiphany:

“Strength training, in general is great for the body. It is great for the bones and overall athleticism. Everything we do in life involves having to pull or lift things. So, not just for body strength, it is important to know how to move things around correctly. The monotonous pounding of running ALONE will not carry well into older age. It will keep the cardio-vascular system healthy, as long as diet is also healthy, but eventually, the body ADAPTS and tightens. Shoulders round, knees start to hurt, hips ache, joints get sore. That’s not because of running–running is GREAT–it is because you ONLY ran. The entire body has to be attended to and preserved. It is important to run, but the other STRENGTH exercises that BALANCE THE BODY are equally crucial.” -David de Leon, “Lifting for Life,” Austin Fit Magazine


People lose about 20 PERCENT of their muscle mass between the ages of 40 and 60! By age 70, muscle mass decreases by 40 PERCENT and STRENGTH BY 30 PERCENT. Loss of muscle mass is called Sarcopenia, which can result in diabetes, falls and injuries, muscle and joint pain, bone loss and DECREASED QUALITY OF LIFE. Could being strong be the fountain of youth?? Not sure, but it sure is more fun being strong!”
-Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports

AGING IS NOT A REASON TO SLOW DOWN ATHLETICALLY. As early as your teens and 20’s, maintaining a dedicated fitness routine is the way to stay at a healthy weight, be strong and sculpted and build stamina while creating a rock-solid foundation to prevent BODY BREAKDOWNS IN LATER YEARS. As we move into our 30’s and 40’s, RESISTANCE TRAINING becomes increasingly important since we naturally LOSE MUSCLE MASS as hormones shift and lifestyles become less “intense”, says M. Olson, Ph. D, FACSM, Professor of Exercise Science at Auburn University. “In our 40’s MUSCLE STRENGTH AND LEAN MUSCLE MASS BEGIN TO LESSEN. With age comes a loss of muscle elasticity and opportunity for injury. Most importantly, while METABOLISM NATURALLY SLOWS IN WOMEN 40 AND OLDER, IT IS NOT THE ABSOLUTE. “Despite what many think, OUR METABOLISM DOES NOT HAVE TO DECREASE WITH AGE IF WE EXERCISE REGULARLY AND VIGOROUSLY,” says Reyna Franco, MS, RDN, CSSD.


Challenging the body with high intensity bouts followed by a recovery period increases fat burning, lean muscle, and overall cardio vascular health. Why it works? This is really amazing:  “New research reveals that high intensity interval training (HIIT) actually supercharges your body on a microscopic level enabling the mitochondria, your cells’ powerhouses, to BURN FAT MORE EFFICIENTLY. Doing 10 60 second sprints, each followed by 75 seconds of recovery, 3 times a week, appears to do MORE FOR YOUR MUSCLES THAN 10 STRAIGHT HOURS OF STEADY JOGGING,” according to a study in The Journal of Physiology.


It has been proven in multitudes of studies that CARDIO is so important for our Cardio Vascular health, and the BEST way to do cardio is through INTERVAL TRAINING, no matter what age you are.

I hope this motivates you to wake up in the morning and get going!!  Strength and Cardio Combos can be done ANYWHERE! Push ups and sprints on the beach? Burpees in the hotel room? Or igniting with us here in Austin!

Just remember to get up and “LIVE LIKE SOMEONE LEFT THE GATE OPEN!”

Keep moving!

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5 Tips for Proper Running Technique

iGnite instructor and running expert Alli Phillips shares her top 5 tips for proper running form and technique to improve running efficiency and speed, prevent common running injuries, and allow runners to enjoy this most elemental, fundamental, and wonderful exercise for a lifetime.  Running with better form will make you more efficient and faster; and vice versa, running faster makes you more efficient and improves form.

1. Upper body alignment

  • Stay in a stacked vertical plank: head in alignment with shoulders, ribs and hips.
  • Strong core: all runners should have a strong core to support that vertical plank, so be sure to include some good core strengthening exercises into your running routine
  • Relax the shoulders

2. Lower body position

  • Pelvis under ribs: keep hips neutrally aligned under the ribs. Think of your pelvis like a bucket, not tipping it one way or another, hold it steady under your vertical plank.
  • Strong glutes: be sure to incorporate glute-strengthening exercises like squats, lunges & step-ups in your running routine because strong hips & glutes will help maintain that neutral pelvis
  • Keep  soft, slightly bent knees through all points in your run, keeping your knee like a loaded spring. This reduces the impact on your joints.
  • Feet under the hips

3.  Foot placement or strike

  • You want to the foot to land right under the hip when you’re running
  • Forefoot takes the weight

4. Forward lean

  • When you run, you want a slightly forward lean with your full body
  • Lean & drive from your hips (or your center of mass)
  • Maintain neutral connected plank position as you lean forward

5.  Cadence

  • Fast Turnover: to go faster, simply increase the rate of your step — don’t widen your stride
  • Quick light steps

DRILL: Sub-Max Sprints
Complete this drill after a 10 minute warm-up. This drill will teach your body how to maintain proper running form at a higher cadence/speed.

  1. Run in place 5-10 seconds focusing on body position and high cadence/turnover
  2. Lean or “fall forward” and run fast for 20-60 seconds or until your cadence slows and/or form is lost

Repeat 3-10 times based on your level of fitness.


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STORIES THAT INSPIRE: “Running for my Existence” A Journey to the Boston Marathon

The human body, mind and spirit is capable of anything. Check out the inspirational video and see what happens when you combine a healthy body, determined mind and passionate and loving spirit.  Anything is possible!