Strength Training: Squat-Thrust Climbers

Improve your balance and core strength with this exercise.

No matter if you’re on a rocky trail or a smooth paved road, balance is a critical element to running healthy. The next time you are negotiating a challenging section of trail or trying to make a sudden move in a road race, think about the amount of vertical and lateral movement your body is undergoing in order to stay upright.

Dr. Richard Hansen of High Altitude Spine and Sport in Boulder, Colo., recommends incorporating squat-thrust climbers into your strength-training routine. “It trains core stability, balance and proprioception, and lower body power,” he says.

How To Do It

  1. Stand tall with feet approximately shoulder-width apart.
  2. Squat at the hips and place your hands on the ground in front of you.
  3. Jump backward into a pushup position. “Don’t allow the hips and lower back to arch or dip,” Hansen says. “You want the torso to remain in a neutral position.”
  4. Drive one knee forward then back followed by the other knee (“mountain climber” position).
  5. Jump forward into squat position. Bend with the hips—not the torso.
  6. Jump straight up and land flat footed. Reset your position prior to starting the next repetition.

Begin with 2 sets of 5 repetitions each. Recover for 60 seconds between sets. Increase to 3 sets of 8 reps each as your strength and coordination improve. Focus on executing the exercise with good form over completing as many reps as possible.