Training

An Olympian’s Strength Workout That’s Great For Runners

These moves from Olympic boxer Marlen Esparza’s routine will build strength and conditioning.


Marlen Esparza took home a bronze medal from the 2012 Olympics, the first year women’s boxing had become an official event. She is quick on her feet both in the ring and on the run—at the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco, she finished in an impressive 1:32:47.

So how does the Olympian get fit for her one-two punch of sports? With strength exercises that work for both boxing and running. Developed by Esparza’s coach, Paul Titus, this workout will open your hips, fire up your glutes and activate your core.

Do this routine 3–4 times a week before or after your run.

LUNGE MATRIX
(a) Pretend you’re standing on the face of a clock for this series of three lunges. (b) Facing forward, keep both feet planted on the ground and
lunge to the right (3 o’clock). (c) Then, with your left leg planted, lunge your right leg back to 5. Keep your quad over your toe. (d) Finally, lunge your right leg forward to 10.
Do 3 sets of the 3 lunges (9 total) with your right leg and then the other. Complete 3 sets.

PLANK WITH LEG LIFT AND KICK OUT
(a) In plank position, (b) lift your right leg up enough to activate your glutes but not arch your back. (c) Bring your leg back down, without touching the floor and kick out to the side.
Do 12 to 15 on one side and then the other. Complete 3 sets.

SINGLE-LEG HIP UP
(a) On the floor, fold your arms across your chest, elevate one leg so that it’s perpendicular to your hip and (b) drive your other heel into the ground to lift your hips. Pause for a second at the top. Lower to the floor.
Do 12 to 15 on one side and then the other. Complete 3 sets.

LATERAL HOPS TO STICK
(a) From a standing position, (b) push off on one foot to explode off the ground and (c) land on the other foot, pausing for a second before (d) hopping back to the other side. Don’t do this too quickly. The objective is to slow down and use your balance. You can use your arms for momentum.
Do 8 on each side and rest 20 seconds. Complete 3 sets.

COUNTERMOVEMENT BOX JUMP
You can use a box or a bench or a step for this exercise—something between 6 and 16 inches tall. (a) Start about a foot from the box, with your knees in line with your feet. (b) Use your arms to explosively jump onto the box. Jump back to the floor, landing softly.
Do 8 and rest 20 seconds before the next round. Complete 3 sets.

SINGLE-LEG LOWERING
(a) Start on your back, with your arms by your sides, feet flat on the floor. (b) Lift your feet toward the ceiling, legs straight. (c) Lower one of your legs as you keep your back flat on the floor.
Do 10 on each leg and rest 20 seconds before the next round. Complete 3 sets.