This month the topic is Upper Body Workouts for Runners.
A runner’s legs get all the attention. We need to strengthen our quads, fire up the glutes, stretch out the ever tight hamstrings and or course keep our calves strong and loose.
Just because the lower body gets all the attention, doesn’t mean your upper body doesn’t need any love. A strong upper body in a runner will help you power through when your legs are getting tired in the late stages of any hard effort workout or race. I’m finding that strength in my arms and back are really needed as I’m training for Mount Washington. If I’m collapsing in my upper body when I fatigue on the hills, I’m making my legs work 10x harder than need be. But if I pump my arms faster, my legs follow suit. To run faster and more efficient, you need your whole body to be strong and in sync.
FYI – While I am a certified professional, I am not your trainer. Listen to your body and it’s limitations. Please check with your physician if you are new to exercise or have any questions regarding your health and exercise.
Here’s a quick upper body workout that I routinely do.
Do 12 reps for each exercise (unless indicated with a time).
DB Flyes – Begin by sitting on a stability ball. Walk your feet out so your head, upper back and shoulders are resting on the ball. Knees should be at 90 degrees. Bring dumbbells to your chest with palms facing each other. Press arms straight up, making sure to not lock elbows at the top. Slowly lower the dumbbells in an arc until dumbbells are at chest level. Return to starting position at the top.
Skull Crush – Lie on a stability ball and extend both arms overhead, a weight in each hand. Bend your elbows so your forearms are parallel to the floor. Slowly straighten your arms, then lower them to the starting position. DO NOT crush your skull.
Push Up on Stability Ball – Get into push up position but with feet placed on a stability ball. This will make the exercise harder by working your balance.
Standing Balance Single Arm Row – Start by balancing on your left foot, holding a kettlebell or weight in your right hand. Hinge at the hips until your body is in a straight line with a flat back and a straight right leg. Bring right arm forward to perform a single arm row. Do 12 reps balancing on the left foot before switching and repeating on the right foot.
Plank – Standard forearm plank hold. Be sure to pull in your belly button and to keep butt down. No butts up in the air!
Side Plank w/ Leg Lift – Start with right elbow on the ground and both legs straight, balancing on outside of right foot. Raise left hand straight up from shoulder. Keeping your body straight, lift your left leg up to slightly higher than hip height. Lower back down. Repeat this for 1 minute.
Superman – Lie face down on your stomach with arms and legs extended in opposite directions. Neck stays in a neutral position. Lift arms and legs at the same time, making a stretched out “u” shape as your back arches and arms and legs lift off the floor. Hold 2-5 seconds before lower back to the floor.
And here are even more Upper Body Workouts from 5 of my running friends. Pin away so you have a stash of workouts on hand whenever you need it.