Train like an Olympic athlete
Middle-distance runner Melissa Duncan is headed to her very first Olympics this year. Her debut comes after setting a 1500m qualifying time of 4:05.56 back in June 2015 which is the fifth fastest 1500m finishing time in Australian History. As the games draw ever closer, Duncan’s training regime is ramping up and wanted to know how she stays strong and injury free.
“Having strong legs and glutes is essential for the power required in a 1500m race. The better hip stability you have, the more fluent and efficient your running style, which can help reduce injuries caused by poor biomechanics,” says Duncan. To build hip stability Duncan uses a lot of stability ball exercises that zero in on her glutes, hamstrings and lower abdominals.
“I spend three sessions a week in the gym, a variety of resistance and circuit type training. One session is fairly continuous, circuit type training, one session has a focus on ‘getting stronger’, lifting weights and the last involves mainly injury prevention and walking drills,” she explains. “The aim for most of my gym training is to replicate movement patterns similar to those used in running. There is a focus on hip and glute stability and foot control.”
We knew that training like an Olympian was going to be tough but we weren’t sure just how tough until Duncan put us to work with some of her favourite resistance moves. Check out her workout below.
Single leg hip thrust
This move isolates the glute and hamstring while building hip strength.
Set up a bench and lie flat on your back with two feet rested on the bench. Lift one leg off the bench and press your hips upward. Keep your ribs tucked in by engaging your core. Lower your bottom back to the ground and repeat.
Single leg dead lift
Standing on one leg with your free leg bent up in front of you, hinge at the hips letting the weight down in front of you. Keep your grounded knee slightly bent as you hinge forward. Extend your free leg behind you for balance. Continue lowering the weight until you are parallel to the ground, then hinge from the hips, squeezing the glute of your grounded leg to return to a standing position with your free leg bent up in front of you again.
Stability ball hamstring curl
Lie flat on your back with the heels of your feet resting on the stability ball. Keep your hands out flat beside you for balance. Raise your hips up so that a straight line from your shoulders to your feet is created. Bend at your knees to bring the ball in towards your bottom. Then push the ball away again. Take a rest between reps if necessary.
Glute kick back
On all fours, with hands under shoulders and knees under hips, take one leg off the ground. Bend at the knee and kick upwards, squeezing your glute as you do so. Keep your hips tucked to engage your core and keep your back from dipping.
Dumbbell push up
On toes or knees, perform a push up with hands on dumbbells. Lower your chest until you feel your shoulder blades come together then press back to the top.
Stability ball plank hold
Stability ball crunch
In plank position with feet on the stability ball, pull the ball in towards your belly button, keeping your back flat. Push the ball back to the starting position and repeat.
Go for 10 reps of each exercise in a circuit with a one minute rest at the end. Repeat for three to five rounds.