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Nutrition & Fitness Tips

How to Turn a Trail Run into a Total Body Workout

How to Turn a Trail Run into a Total Body Workout

Trail running is surging in popularity. With good reason - it gets you to the great outdoors instead of just running on the street. Plus, trails are much easier on your body than concrete or asphalt surfaces are. With beautiful surroundings, you can’t beat a good trail run.

Want to make it even more beneficial? Take the benefits beyond just cardio and endurance training. You can turn a trail run into a total body workout by making a few simple modifications. Just be sure to down the best pre workout drink before you head out and have the best post workout recovery drink ready for you when you arrive. It’s going to be an exhausting - but rewarding - workout.

Start with a Good Warm Up

You should start every run with a dynamic warm up to get your muscles fired up and ready for a great training session. In this case, your warm up also serves as part of the workout. Here are a few simple moves you can do to get your body ready for an intense run:

  • Leg swings - Open up your hips.
  • Butt kicks - Activate glutes and quads.
  • Walking lunges - Fire up your legs and glutes.
  • Squats - Great for quads and glutes.

Your glute muscles are critical to a good trail run, especially if your route includes some steep sections. Aim to spend at least 5 minutes on your warm up. To add some stretching, do walk/stretch/walk/stretch repeats, stretching a different muscle group each time.

Run the Hills

Hill workouts build your lower body strength without being hard on your muscles and tendons. That’s because the force of gravity is less intense on your body when you push up a hill.

Try anything from short hill sprints of 10 seconds or less to medium length and long hill repeats. Medium length hill runs are excellent for anaerobic gains.

Add Intervals

Interval training quickens your heart rate and and breathing rate. The result is better aerobic capacity and higher tolerance of lactate in the muscles - both of which are critical for all endurance athletes.

Some runners associate interval training with doing track workouts, but it’s easy to bring intervals to the trails. Try doing a 1 minute hard / 4 minutes easy interval several times. Or go for an interval ladder that slowly reduces the duration of your hard effort.

An example would be 3 minutes hard / 1 minute easy, then 2 hard / 1 easy, then 1 hard / 1 easy, then 30 seconds hard / 1 minute easy, and finally 15 seconds hard / 1 minute easy. Repeat that series 3 times for a serious workout.

Combine Running and Bodyweight Circuits

If your goal is a total body workout that includes your arms and upper body, you’ll need to add a bodyweight circuit to your trail run. An easy way is to do it is adding 5 minutes of bodyweight work after you complete each mile.

Incorporate moves like burpees, sit-ups, jump squats, and push-ups. They’re exhausting and effective, but also easy because they can be performed anywhere with zero equipment.

Remember, you don’t want to totally burn yourself out after your bodyweight circuit. So make sure you’re training at a level that’s right for you. If you don’t think you’ll be able to finish your run, you know you pushed too hard on the cross training circuits.

Enjoy Your Trail Runs

Getting outside to complete a rewarding run is about more than just the results. It’s also about enjoying the beauty of the great outdoors.

To look and feel your best, use these tips to take your next trail run to a higher level of intensity. You’ll see better results too.


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