Why a Great Upper Body Workout for Runners is an Absolute Must
Runners are a very rare bread. They have to have strong legs and outstanding endurance. But, many times runners overlook the need to workout other body parts, especially the upper body. Finding the best upper body workout for runners shouldn’t be too hard. Any good fitness trainer can teach you what you need to do in order to strengthen your arms, your core muscles and your entire upper body.
Developing a muscular upper body that’s designed especially for endurance athletes is very important for your posture. By neglecting your back muscles, you run the risk of developing an unhealthy running posture, thus exposing yourself to injuries as you accumulate more hours of running.
What’s the Ideal Upper Body Workout for Runners?
An ideal upper body workout for runners should focus on strengthening their back and core muscles. The arms are also very important, as they are the ones that contribute to maintaining the rhythmic motion in accordance with the lower body. Runners with weaker arms won’t be able to position their shoulders properly and maintain an optimal positioning for the duration of their run when running long distances.
This is troublesome for runners because when the shoulders aren’t properly positioned, the diaphragm won’t be able to expand and provide the airflow needed to support your effort. Running is an intense activity, and airflow is one of the major keys to maintaining endurance. Almost everybody can run for a few seconds or even for a few minutes, but when it comes to finding your proper rhythm and maintaining it for lengthier a duration, everything matters. Your arms have to move in such a way that they contribute to maintaining your balance in motion, as well as to your overall speed and performance.
The Benefits of Upper Body Muscle for Runners
You may not be aware of the fact that running is a very complex motion. It involves side to side movement and rotation at the same time. This means the upper body muscles are directly involved in the running activity, so you can’t let them be weak. The age old saying “you’re only as strong as your weakest link” is especially true when it comes to running.
The main role of your upper body muscles is to reduce wasted motion, thus allowing your other muscles to be more effective in their effort of moving you forward. This can contribute to an improvement of your performance in terms of speed and endurance. When you don’t waste motion, all your strength goes into moving you forward. Besides, as you can go faster with the same amount of effort, you are also going to be able to run for a longer period of time, without exhausting yourself too early.
Working out the upper body allows you to develop as a well-rounded athlete. Running, in and of itself, is an insanely strenuous workout for the lower body. Training your legs on the run and then in the gym can lead to over-training your lower body. In the long run, this will slow your progress. The most logical way to keep in shape, develop both your muscle mass and your endurance, is to add upper body workouts to your routine. This will give your legs time to recover and build muscle mass and you’ll be able to achieve optimum results.
The Best Upper Body Exercises for Runners
When it comes to runners and upper body work outs, it all comes down the exercises that build lean muscle mass and not bulky, heavy muscle. This means that the ideal workout should revolve around lifting a lighter weight for a higher amount of repetitions. Most exercises should aim to hit 3 or 4 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions. Doing a higher set of repetitions and keeping the heart rate elevated also benefits runners more than a slower paced, heavier weight workout because it requires a higher endurance level.
There are two different types of exercises; pulling and pushing. As you may have guessed, pulling exercises involve movements associate with a pulling motion, such as a cable pull down or a pull-up. Whereas, pushing exercises are based on pushing weight up such as the bench press. Pulling exercises tend to be more beneficial for runners because they more closely mimic the running motion.
Pulling exercises are also good for runners because they help even out the chest, thus allowing it to expand more. The more air your lungs can take in, the better your body is able to achieve a high level of endurance.
Our Three Favorite Upper Body Pulling Exercises for Runners
- The Rower
The rowing machine is ideal for runners because it provides them with the best of both worlds: cardio and muscle building. The average rowing machine workout can be done in 20 minutes and produces maximum results if you’re going balls-to-the-walls.
The other benefit of the rowing machine is that it provides not only a great upper body workout, but also a great lower body workout. It’s essentially a full-body exercise that works on both cardio and lean muscle gains, what’s not to love?
There is literally no end to your creativity when it comes to rowing. The most basic exercise performed on the rowing machine is to row for a set number of meters, for example, 200 meters, rest for one minute, then repeat for a set amount of time. To mix it up, you could go all-out and aim to complete a set number of meters within a certain time. For example, you could aim to complete 1,000 meters in 6 or 7 minutes. If you beat the clock, finish your workout with burpees until the bell rings.
- Use Your Bodyweight
Bodyweight exercises are perfect for runners because they focus on building both the cardiovascular system and the athlete’s lean muscle mass while using nothing other than your body. There are several bodyweight exercises that runners should focus on. For the upper body, the primary body weight exercises are pull-ups and push-ups.
Pull-ups are a core exercise for anyone looking to develop a strong upper body. The variations are virtually endless. To miss it up, incorporate close grip, wide grip, and normal grip pull-ups into your routine. These variations will target your upper bodies slightly differently and get the most out of your workout. When pull-ups get too easy, add a weight to your body for an additional challenge.
The same variations can be attributed to the push-up. Close, wide, and normal push-ups are all vital to developing lean muscle that will benefit your running. For an additional challenge, you can also place a weight on your back to increase the difficulty.
To take it one step further, add in a variety of planks to your routine to build your core which promotes a better upper body. Straight planks, elevated planks, and a side planks will all help you develop a strong core and achieve better results while running.
- The Bodyweight Row
The bodyweight row is especially beneficial for runners although it isn’t one of the more popular exercises that are seen in the gym. But, when it comes to runners, the body weight row will help to prevent rounded shoulders which limit the chests ability to expand. The bodyweight row will target not only your chest but also your core. For additional difficulty, try the single-handed bodyweight row.
The Wrap Up
Building lean upper body muscle is important for runners. But keep in mind, that as far as specific exercises go, the right exercise for each individual can vary. When you’re just beginning to train the upper body, try different workouts and measure your performance. At the end of the day, your performance is all that matters. To boost your performance, we have what you need.