Trainers love to say that “running doesn’t make you strong, but you need to be strong to run.” Fortunately, this barbell finisher from strength coach Paul Sklar, C.S.C.S. can help to make you a stronger runner—and smash your leg and core muscles in good measure.
By combining reverse barbell lunges with a knee drive and hold, you’ll train the glutes and quads for awesome single-leg strength and hip stability. You’ll also work an essential portion of your running stride as you raise your knee up for each rep.
As an added bonus, the move keeps you on leg at a time, throwing off your stability and challenging your core to keep you on balance. After all, if your abs aren’t giving all they’ve got, you and your barbell will topple to one side.
To try out the movement at the end of a workout, load up a barbell and put it on your upper traps in a high-bar position. Don’t worry if you have to start with little or no weight, though—balance is the most important factor as you’re getting used to the movement. Use a squat or power rack to get set up so that you don’t have to clean and overhead press the bar to get the bar onto your back. With your feet hip-width apart, brace your core and engage your lats for a strong starting position.
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From here, step back with one foot, slowly descend into a lunge, and pause near the bottom. As you rise out of the lunge, drive your lunge knee up toward your chest in a controlled movement. Pause and hold that position, and then slowly return your foot to the floor and repeat on the opposite side.
Sklar’s super-controlled tempo is what makes this series of movements work. Moving deliberately makes the exercise infinitely more abdominally intense, while also helping you to build more of the single-leg stability that all runners need.
Perform the finisher for 60 seconds, rest for 60 more, and repeat for a total of 5 sets. By your last rep, you’ll be tapped out.
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