Stick to Your Resolutions With These Yoga and Strength Training Exercises

Over the holidays, pro runners and fitness trainers shared their favourite moves on Instagram

Sportswoman doing sit-ups with medicine ball on sports training in a gym.

With resolution season in full swing, now is the perfect time to start building your fitness base for 2020. As you tick up your mileage to get ready for spring races, it’s important to supplement running with yoga and strength training to boost your balance, flexibility, and stability and prevent injury for the long road ahead.

Luckily, you don’t have to go further than your Instagram feed for inspiration. From December 25 through January 5, Ann Mazur, marathoner and founder of Runners Love Yoga, hosted the #12DaysOfRLYRunning2019 challenge, where pro athletes and fitness experts took turns sharing 12 different yoga and strength training exercises on Instagram for each of the 12 days.

Followers were then asked to post their own videos and photos of themselves doing the move of the day with the hashtag #12DaysOfRLYRunning2019, to be eligible to compete for one grand prize: a pair of Normatec recovery boots, Arena swim accessories, Runners Love Yoga gear, and treats from Honey Stinger and Garden of Life. The runner-up receives Runners Love Yoga gear, Honey Stinger snacks, and a training journal courtesy of Grayson Murphy.

“I started doing the challenge in 2017, and I got an instant enthusiastic response from pros wanting to contribute and followers,” Mazur, who was teammates with Molly Huddle at Notre Dame University, told Runner’s World. “People always want to know what the pros are doing to strength train. Also, I think athletes sometimes get into a rut with their training, and this is a great way to try a new move they don’t normally do, but maybe they should do.”

Now that the challenge is over, Mazur and her cohosts are picking a winner to take home the grand prize. And while it’s too late to compete for those prizes now, it’s not too late to try out these 12 exercises—which hit everything from your core to your calves—during your next gym session. Here are the moves from #12DaysOfRLYRunning2019 that feature pro runners such as Huddle, Murphy, Emily Sisson, and more.


Yoga Flow With Ann Mazur

Begin in Warrior I yoga pose with your legs in a lunge position, left (front) foot pointed forward, right (back) foot turned 45 degrees toward the side of the mat, and arms extended straight up.

Transition into Warrior II pose by opening your arms wide and turning your hips and torso to face the side of the mat, with your back foot turned 60 degrees toward the side of the mat.

Next, flow into Reverse Warrior: Reach your left arm forward, flip your left palm to the sky, and “scoop up” the air by reaching up and back.

Transition to Triangle Pose: Straighten your front leg, lean forward with your left arm, and tilt yourself down, with your left hand resting on or near your shin and right arm extended up to the sky.

Flow into Revolved Triangle Pose: Hop your back foot in a half step, then move your right hand to either the inside (less intense) or outside (more intense) or your knee, press the palm down, and reach the left arm up to the sky. Then release both hands to the mat, bring your feet together to the top of the mat.

Draw hands to heart center then repeat the flow on the other side.


Lateral Skater Hop With Kim Conley



Start by balancing on one leg with your knee slightly bent. Lower your body in the one-legged squat, then push off that leg and land on the other. Try to land softly with minimal wobbling, without using your other leg for support. You can pump your arms as if you’re running for momentum. Repeat on the other leg and alternate, totalling 10 hops on each leg.


Tuck Up With Katie Nageotte


Find a hanging bar at the gym—or even a monkey bar at your local park—for this core exercise. Hanging from the bar, pull your knees up to your chest, then slowly release them down; repeat 10 times.

For a variation, you can try straight leg lifts (keep your legs straight while raising them so your hips form a 90-degree angle, then lower them and repeat) or flutter kicks (raise your legs straight out in front of you, then kick up and down, parallel to the ground).


Resistance Band Foot Exercises With Molly Huddle



You’ll need to grab a resistance band for this move. Wrap the band around your foot, then evert your foot (push down with the outside edge of your foot, rotating your foot inward). Release the foot back to neutral position. Do two sets of 10 on each side.

For the second exercise, lay your band flat on the ground and scrunch it up with your toes (you can also use a towel for this). Try to do 2×1 minute on each foot.


Weighted Plank With Grayson Murphy


Have a friend place a weight plate on your back while you hold a plank position. Be very careful when adding weight—start with a very light weighted plate, then gradually replace with a heavier one. If you can’t hold proper plank form due to the weight, it’s too heavy. (Swipe right to see Grayson Murphy demonstrate the exercise.) Stick to body weight only until you build strength.


Single-Leg Balance With Aisling Cuffe


For this exercise, you’ll need something squishy to stand on, like a Bosu Balance Trainer or a throw pillow. To warm up, try balancing on one leg on the squishy surface for 30 seconds, then switch sides. Then move on to a more advanced movement: While standing on one leg, lean down to touch your toe, then stand back up. Try not to wiggle or use your other leg for support.


Medicine Ball Core Circuit With Mazur


You’ll need a medicine ball for these three moves. (Swipe right to see Mazur and OTQ marathoners Amanda Macuiba and Jenny Donnelly demonstrate the exercises.)

For the first move, a Russian Twist, start seated, with your legs held in the air in front of you. Move the ball side to side over your body for 30 or 60 seconds.

For the second move, Hollow Body Press, extend legs out, and hold the ball in front of you. As you maintain the Hollow Body hold, press the ball above your head for 30 to 60 seconds.

For the final exercise, Sit-Up With Throw, bend knees and rest feet on ground in front of you, then roll down onto your back, holding the ball above your head. Crunch up, throwing the ball above your head; catch the ball, and repeat for 30 to 60 seconds.


One-Leg Stability Exercise With Neely Gracey



Start by standing on left leg, with your right leg lifted straight behind you and your hands on hips. Slowly rotate your hips open to the right, outward and then inward while balancing. Do one set of 10 reps on each leg before you run, or three sets of 10 reps on each leg after you run.


Legs Up the Wall With Mazur


You’ve probably thrown your legs up a wall in the past to flush out sore legs, but you might not have tried one of these variations before. First, get into your usual legs-up-the-wall position, with your butt wiggled as close to the wall as comfortable and your legs pointed straight up. Then, bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together to make a triangle, letting your knees drop to either side. Finally, release your feet and straighten your legs, letting gravity pull you into an upside-down split.


Standing Medicine Ball Circuit With Mazur


You’ll need a medicine ball for these two exercises. (Swipe right to see Mazur and Macuiba demonstrate these exercises.)

For the first exercise, Reverse Wood Chop, stand with your legs hip-distance apart, lean down to touch your right toe with the ball, then reach the ball high up to the left side, with your right foot pivoting to help the movement. Do five to seven reps, then switch sides.

For the second exercise, Single-Leg Med Ball Slam, start by standing on your right leg with your left knee bent at a 90 degree angle in front of you and the medicine ball in your hands. Throw down the ball, then catch it, still standing on one leg with your knee bent. In that position, slowly lean forward and extend your left leg behind you until it’s parallel to the ground. Raise up and repeat for five to seven reps on each leg.

In the third exercise, Jump Squat, hold the ball at chest height with feet just wider than hip-width distance apart. Send hips back and bend knees to drop into a squat. Press back up and explode into a jump. Land softly and repeat.


Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts With Emily Sisson


Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent, holding a kettlebell with both hands. Hinge at your hips and bring the kettlebell toward the ground, keeping your core engaged, while your left leg lifts straight behind you. You should feel a sensation in your right hamstrings and glutes. Return left leg to starting position, then switch sides. Repeat for 10 reps on each side.


Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift and Yoga Sequence With Jill Mazur


This exercise—which is demonstrated by Mazur’s sister, Jill, in the second photo—is an extension of Sisson’s kettlebell exercise described above.

First, do five single-leg kettlebell deadlifts on one leg, then set the kettlebell on the ground as you lower into a Low Lunge with your back knee (the leg that was raised) on the floor. Then, transition into a Half-Split by moving your hips back to hover above your back foot and straightening your front leg, using your hands to support you. (You should feel a deep stretch in your hamstring.) Shift forward into a Low Lunge, then back into a Half-Split, then forward into a Low Lunge.

Transition into Pigeon Pose by wiggling your front foot all the way to the left and rest your front shin on the floor, trying to keep your hips as square and flat on the mat as possible. Breathe, then raise up into Downward Dog, with your hands shoulder-length apart, hips raised above your head, and your feet flat and pointed forward. Walk your feet into your hands, then repeat the sequence on the other side.

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