Quick Upper Body Workout for Runners

It’s Wednesday today.  Let’s make it a Workout Wednesday!  How ’bout some good old fashion strength training for your upper body?

Most runners focus on strengthening their lower body muscles – glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves.  These muscles are super important when running but muscular arms and shoulders can also help maintain your speed.  When you run, your arms counterbalance the motion of your legs, resulting in saved energy. The swing of the arms helps propel the body forward so the lower body isn’t doing all the work.  A strong upper body can also can be a hidden gem when fatigue sets in.Here are 5 quick exercises that can be done at home or the gym.  In fact, these 5 would make for a great quick workout while catching up with your favorite TV show tonight.  Make it a circuit by doing one set of each exercise during a commercial.  Modern Family and an upper body workout?  Sounds like a good night to me!


Sit in a sturdy chair or on a weight bench with your hands gripping the seat or bench. Walk your feet forward. Can be done with legs bent at 90 degrees or straight out in front of you.  Lower yourself until your upper arms are parallel to the ground. Push back up. Do two sets of 12 to 15 reps.

Push ups

Get into a plank position with your hands slightly outside your shoulders. Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor. Pause, then push back up. Do two sets of 12 to 15 reps.

Seated Row

Can be done with seated row machine at a gym or with a resistance band.  For resistance band instructions: Loop a resistance band through a stable object at chest height(treadmill handle works well), grabbing the free ends in each hand. Stretch your arms out in front of you, feet shoulder width apart.  Pull the band back until your hands are beside your chest, keeping your elbows at shoulder level. Maintain control as you return to the starting position. Do two sets of 12 to 15 reps.

Shoulder Press

Can be done standing or seated.  Bring weights to shoulder height, palms facing forward.  Push the weights towards the ceiling.  Return to shoulder.  Do two sets of 12-15 reps.

Bicep Curls

Can be done seated or standing.  Take a weight in each hand.  Palms face forward as you curl the weights to your shoulders keeping elbows tucked into sides.  Lower down to starting position.  Do two sets of 12-15 reps.

Heart Healthy Tip

Limit your consumption of red meat.  Try Meatless Monday to add beans, legumes or tofu into your weekly meal routine.

What’s your favorite strength training exercise?

Mine is anything working triceps.  Push downs, dips, extensions, etc.

Does your household do a Meatless Monday?

We don’t eat much meat so it’s usually a Meatless Sunday – Saturday for us!

11 comments on “Quick Upper Body Workout for Runners

  1. I tend to do more upper body weight training vs. lower body. I always have the mindset that I don’t want to make my legs sore or too tired to run! But I know that I need to add lower body exercises to make me a stronger runner. My favorite strength training exercises are push-ups, chest press, and any shoulder exercise.
    I don’t eat red meat, but my family does. I eat chicken or turkey a couple times per week. I try to make meatless meals for my family as often as possible!

  2. I’m the same as Cyndi… I neglect my lower body for fear of wearing out my legs, but getting to some classes lately has made sure I get in lots of squats and lunges. These are all great moves, I do most of them at least weekly. I think push ups are my favorite– they’re challenging so I know I’ve used my body well!

    1. It’s really up to your strength and ability. I tend to use heavier weights for bicep curls and shoulder presses. A good starting point is 5 pounds. If at any weight you can do more than 15 reps, increase the weight.

Comments are closed.