Doing this at the gym might get you a few strange looks from other people who aren’t working hard, but trust me, it will be worth it. Traditional treadmill workouts (and almost all other cardio workouts, for that matter) focus on straight forward running. There is nothing wrong with this, as most of our movement is done in a forward motion. Outside of athletic events, we rarely walk or run in a rotational manner. There is one, however, one problem with straight line, forward training:
WE HAVE MUSCLES IN OUR INNER AND OUTER LEGS!!!!
More commonly known as your adductors (inner thigh) and abductors (outer thigh), these muscle tend to get neglected when running forward. Yes, they are involved, but the majority of our force production is going to come from our quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip flexors. There are two issues that come about if we repeatedly ignore the adductors and abductors. First and foremost, when we neglect a muscle, it’s going to lose strength. Although these muscles are a bit smaller and don’t tend to produce as much force, we still don’t want to neglect them. Secondly, as with any “accessory” or “secondary” muscle, these muscles can greatly improve running performance if trained properly. Your adductors and abductors are more involved with the lateral movement of the legs, but can play a significant role in the forward running motions (flexion and extension) as well.
Running can be difficult enough for many people, for many different reasons. This may seem like an unconventional method of training, but it will pay off. Having stronger “accessory” muscles can make life much easier for the major players like the quads and hamstrings. Think of your smaller leg muscles as “assistant managers” or “secretaries” that keep the managers or CEO’s on top of their game. They may go unnoticed, but they are equally important.
In the video above, I have the treadmill set on 25% incline. If you’ve been there, you know it is pretty steep. If you’re new to directional training, start at a lower incline, and a slow speed (2-3 mph). Once you get the hang of it – the motion and the transitions – then increase your speed and incline a bit. I usually do 15-20 seconds for all three directions with about 20-30 seconds rest in between. Complete anywhere from 5-10 sets before your regular training for a good supplemental cardio workout