As runners we of course use our legs, but there is another part that can make or break our efficiency.
Why should we runners pay specific attention to our upper body strength? I mean, we mostly use our legs, right? There are many reasons why we should include a generous dose of upper body exercises in our cross-training routine.
3 Reasons To Build Upper Body Strength
- We not only use our legs to propel us forward—but we also use our arms and torso to help keep balance and improve efficiency. Our arms pump as we run, and the stronger our arms are, the stronger our movement forward.
- Strengthening your upper body does not mean working your arms to death. Because really, there are only so many bicep curls and tricep kickbacks one can do on any given day. Plus those things can get a little, well, boring (in my opinion). Working on your back (both lower and upper) along with your core can net great benefits. Although stronger back and core don’t necessarily equal speed, you might experience less tightness and soreness after logging a few miles. This also might allow you to run longer—sense a theme here? I’m all about the long miles!
- If you run with a handheld water bottle or hydration pack, you will not regret having strengthened your torso and arms. The first time I used a CamelBak for a long run, my back was incredibly tired immediately after and sore the next few days. It took me a while to figure out that my body (back and arms) had to make a few adjustments in order to accommodate the extra weight and bulk of the pack. It taxed some different muscles and they let me know in no uncertain terms.
There are many more reasons to make sure you have a strong back, core and arms. For example, the ability to persevere through long days, and well, life in general. But the running, that’s what we’re talking about here—remember to do your pushups, pull-ups, planks and flys on the regular so that you can run strong!