5 Upper Body Exercises for Runners

Coach Casey · June 11, 2021

Don’t let anyone tell you that distance runners don’t need to be strong or need to do upper body exercises. Upper body strength exercises for runners is key to increasing performance, efficiency, and ultimately speed! While there’s no need to lift like an NFL lineman or go the Arnold Schwarzenegger route, a few simple upper body exercises for runners can make a huge difference over time. The arms and chest aren’t just eye candy anymore!

As with any addition to a runner’s routine, time and efficacy are key. With the addition of just these 5 simple, quick, and effective upper body strength exercises to your weekly lifting routine you can get all the necessary benefits for your running. 

Why exercise your upper body for running?

Let us quickly tackle the “why” before the “how.” Increasing your upper body strength provides a series of running benefits but three specifically stand out. 

1. Improved Arm Swing

Your arm swing not only helps dictate your running rhythm but it also helps keep your energy output aimed in the right direction. With strong, controlled, and consistent arm swings you can be sure to manage your tempo and keep your energy expenditure driving forward. Strong arms and chest via upper body exercises for all runners can help this. 

2. Improved Posture

A tall, stable posture is key to running efficiency and economy. A lot of that correct posture comes from your core but your chest and upper back also effect it. Having the upper body strength and muscle stability to pull your chest up and shoulders back helps keep that tall, proper running posture.

3. Improved Muscle Glycogen Storage 

Muscle glycogen simply is the stored carbohydrates within your body that is used for fuel when your muscles are working. You can stock your body with glycogen via nutrition, but the amount of room to stock full of glycogen is determined by your muscle mass. More muscle means with some more upper body exercises each week mean a bigger tank to fill with useful glycogen fuel!

5 Easy Upper Body Exercises for Runners

These five exercises combine a combination of push and pull motions. This variability is key to muscle development. Also, each exercise engages the major upper body muscles necessary for the positive training effects mentioned above and are easy to do at home with minimal equipment. Additionally, you’ll be able to easily advance in reps and weight with each. Click on each exercise to see short tutorial videos on the exercises! 

1. Bent Over Rows

2. Pushups 

3. Dumbbell Bench Press

4. Chin Ups/Pull Ups

5. Reverse Fly

Looking for more training tips and tricks for your running? Join Charge Running and get training insights from a group of professional coaches LIVE!

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