HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR RUN WITH AN UPPER BODY WORKOUT

Usually, runners don’t waste too much time thinking about their biceps. And why should it? In the end, what matters is the legs. So, runners don’t need to train their upper body, right?

But if you look at the female athletes and the athletes at the Olympic 100m final, you will notice something different. It almost feels like the more powerful your arms, the faster you can run. 

You may be wondering …

DO STRONGER ARMS REALLY MAKE ME FASTER?

How the power and size of your arm muscles contribute to your performance depends on the type of run.

STRENGTH OF ARMS AND SPRINTS

For speed shots, this holds true up to a point. In shooting, it is crucial to generate maximum forward propulsion in the shortest amount of time. The arms give even more push, catapulting the runner forward. Strong shoulders are particularly important in this regard. While power in the arms plays less of a role than technique, in competitive sports, where races are decided to hundredths of a second, it can make the difference between victory and defeat.

At the end of this article, you will find the right exercises to strengthen your arms and core.

ARM STRENGTH AND LONG DISTANCE RUNNING:

In the case of long-distance running, muscular arms are actually a disadvantage: since arm strength has virtually no impact on performance, arms that are too big or muscular are just an extra burden. What matters is the right technique. The swing of the arms affects every movement from the hips down. If you move your arms faster, this automatically increases your stride frequency. Slower and wider oscillations produce the opposite effect: this is due to the fact that the movements of the arms and legs are coordinated by our brain.

Here’s how you can use arm swing to improve your runs …

THE BEST WAY TO HOLD YOUR ARMS WHEN RUNNING:

  • Bend your elbows 90 degrees or less
  • Let your arms swing in the direction you are running (arms should not cross the midline of the body)
  • Keep your hands relaxed with palms facing inward. Thumb and forefinger should touch lightly.
  • Try to push your elbows back rather than forward

Proper arm technique will help you improve your running technique as well. However, you won’t be able to improve your running posture if you don’t also strengthen your upper body muscles (especially your core muscles).

BENEFITS OF UPPER BODY TRAINING FOR RUNNERS

Of course, having strong leg muscles is crucial for running fast, but many runners underestimate the importance of strong upper body muscles when it comes to running performance:

  • The abdominal and back muscles play an important role in stabilizing the upper body. A weak core leads to compensatory movements, thereby decreasing your propulsion.
  • Strong muscles in the upper body are essential to ensure the effective transmission of energy from the body to the legs. Without this aspect, the correct technique with which to use the arms cannot provide optimal support for the legs. Maintaining proper posture while running helps you be faster while wasting less energy.
  • An added benefit: Well-developed abdominal and back muscles serve to protect the spine from impacting the ground while running. Therefore, a strong core is essential to minimize the risk of injury.

UPPER BODY EXERCISES FOR RUNNERS

Here is a list of exercises you can do at home to strengthen the upper body, without the need for equipment or weights:

  • Bodyweight exercises for the biceps and triceps
  • Core exercises specific to runners
  • Plank variations
  • Back exercises you can do at home

Good to know:

The best exercises to strengthen the stabilizer muscles (pelvic, abdominal, and back) are complex exercises that target different muscle groups such as Planks, Push-ups, and Burpees. So be sure to include them in your workouts!

Have you already tried our KissAnime bodyweight training app?

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