Upper Body Strength and Running

by Jessica B. | March 12th, 2012 | Strength Training, Upper Body

For a long time I was pretty lazy with my upper body strength routine. The reason? I am a runner, and I always considered myself in good shape because of running. I rarely hit the gym or did a push up. My arms were pretty slight. What did I need upper body strength for?

But during an injury, when I couldn’t use my leg and could only work out with my upper body, I started to develop greater shoulder strength, arm strength, and general upper body strength. When my foot recovered, I found my new upper body gave me greater power on the trails, and it made me a better runner.

When you run, sure your legs are what give you power, but your upper body helps to propel you forward, and every little bit helps. The more muscle power you have up top, the easier you are able to move. While I imagine there might be a moment where the scales tip, and you become too big for your upper body strength to contribute to your run, the chance of you reaching those upper limits, unless you are making a considered effort, is pretty slim.

Here are some simple upper body exercises you can do to help make you a better runner.

1) Push-ups – They are classic because they work. Try adding a few reps when you finish with your run, before you stretch. Or take a break after your first five minutes of jogging and do as many push-ups as you can. Traditional push-ups are the best way to go here, but you can mix it up with a variety of styles if you wish.

2) Arm curls – Get yourself some dumbbells or a resistance band and add a few arm curls to your routine.

3) Pull-ups or arm hangs – Next time you are out for your run, stop at a local playground and try some pull-ups, or if you are like me, they are more like arm hangs. I try to hold my body up for a certain amount of time and then relax.

4) Body dips –Still at the playground, use the bars to hold and support your weight, then lower your body towards the ground, but don’t allow your feet to touch.

5) Boxing – Shadow boxing is a fun way to build upper body strength. Put on some music and throw some punches, jabs, hooks, whatever gets you going. It may seem a bit silly, but you will feel it the next day.

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All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.