Random start to this post but I had a good idea for a post I wanted to write the other day, and now I can’t remember what it was for the life of me! So this one will have to do
I’ve noticed that gaining upper body strength has really helped my running. We all know how important core strength is, but upper body strength is just as important. Your arms are what propel you as you’re running, especially during accelerations and/or sprinting to that finish line.
For me, lifting for biceps and triceps isn’t my favorite thing to do. I much prefer exercises like pull-ups, bench press, etc. which hit those bigger muscles. And I believe those are key exercises to help you with your running as well.
Here are a few exercises to incorporate into your strength routine:
My favorite type of row is a supported bent over dumbbell row.
Single arm (and leg for that matter) exercises utilize more core strength which is obviously a plus. A few cues I’d give for this exercises are:
- Keep your back flat throughout, don’t let it sag when you lower the weight.
- As you lower the weight, don’t use momentum to row it back up. I see people lower and let there shoulder and back go down with the weight in order to almost swing it back up. Keep your torso steady as you lower the weight, then before you row up focus on squeezing your shoulder blade/the muscles in that area to row up. Those are the muscles you want to recruit. Try to keep them “flexed” throughout the exercise.
If you have a cable machine, this exercise will really help your running, since it mimics arm strength. I was doing this one about 2-3 times per week:
You want to pick a challenging weight but not one that will cause your torso to move as you pull or let the weight go. Once again, focus on using your back muscles as you pull in (think “squeeze your shoulder blades”). Pull in with force, then let it go slowly (count 3 seconds). That explosive movement will help your arm swing during that last sprint of a track workout or race. Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps to start, and each week try to add more weight.
Those are my 2 favorite exercises for upper body strength relating to running, but here are a few others to incorporate into your routine:
- Pull-ups (assisted or unassisted)
- Negative pull-ups
- TRX rows
- Barbell or dumbbell overhead press
- Push-ups (great for core strength too)
- Bent-over barbell row
- Inverted row
- Lying barbell tricep extension (video) –> much more effective than tricep kickbacks and other tricep exercises.
- Single arm dumbbell overhead press
- Tricep rope extension
I forget what video I was watching but it was one of Mary Cain doing a track workout, and her coach (Alberto Salazar) was yelling, “Use your arms! Use your arms!” Next time you feel you’re getting tired during a run, workout or race, pump your arms harder. You’ll find that it will help you maintain your pace.
Do you incorporate these exercises into your strength routine?
What’s your mental tip for when you are really fatigued at the end of a track workout or race but want to finish strong?
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