7 best Upper Body Exercises for Runners

Upper body exercises for runners sound a bit weird, as all that’s required for running are strong and toned leg muscles. However, running is not just about your lower body; it requires great upper body strength too. Are you wondering how? Here’s the answer:

Upper body workouts for runners are as important and effective as any other exercise. That’s because, as you run, your arms start to get pumped; your core gets engaged, and your entire upper and lower body works together to build up your intensity and endurance.

So, while improving speed is the best thing you can do to train yourself for running; do not ignore the importance of training your upper body as well.

Upper body exercises for runners

1) Burpees

Burpees are a full-body exercise that strengthens your legscore and entire upper body all at once.


  • Start by standing straight on a flat surface with your feet at a shoulder-width distance.
  • Slowly lower your body to a squat position, and place both your hands directly in front of you on the floor.
  • As you do that, quickly jump back into a plank position, and jump your feet back in placing them outside for a wider base.
  • Stand up; jump into the air, and reach both your arms overhead.
  • Complete eight to ten reps in one set. Do as many sets as you can.

2) Bench dips

Dips are an effective upper body exercise that works on your chest, shoulders and triceps – all muscles that can potentially improve your running pace.


  • Stand in front of a bench, and place both your hands behind it.
  • Place both your feet flat on the ground, with your knees at a 90-degree bend.
  • Slowly lower your body, and pull back up.
  • Push through your arms, and engage your core.
  • Complete at least three to four sets of ten reps.


3) Pushups

Pushups primarily target your triceps and chest muscles and are one of the best upper-body exercises.


  • Take a position on all fours, with your hands a bit wider than your shoulder-width distance and your legs fully extended behind.
  • Keep your body balanced on your hands and toes.
  • Engage your glutes and core, and lower your body till your chest touches the floor.
  • Push back your body up to the initial position in a slightly explosive way.


4) Plank

Plank is a wonderful exercise that targets your entire core and makes it strong and toned.


  • Start by taking a face-down position on a flat surface on your toes and forearms.
  • Your elbows should be directly below your shoulders.
  • Make sure to keep your head relaxed, and look straight at the floor.
  • Maintain a rigid position, and hold for ten to 15 seconds.
  • Once done, release your body on the ground, and relax.
  • You may also do a variation of this exercise by lifting one leg and one hand off the floor or lifting your opposite arm and leg for adding more intensity.


5) Inverted rows

Inverted rows are the most effective upper-body exercises that help develop your arm and upper-back strength.


  • To perform this upper-body exercise, find a railing or a bar, or you may even use an edge of the table or rings to hold on to comfortably.
  • Make sure to keep your body in a straight line and properly stretched with both your feet on the floor.
  • Pull your body, specifically your chest, up towards the table or bar, and slowly lower yourself.
  • Complete four sets containing at least six to eight reps.


6) Dumbbell overhead press to lat pulldown

This is another push-and-pull upper-body exercise; however, in this exercise, you have to move your body vertically rather than horizontally. This move targets different muscles in your lower body, including your shoulders, lats and triceps.


  • Start by sitting on a bench with a dumbbell of low to moderate weight in each hand. Your palms should face each other, and the dumbbells should be at your shoulder height.
  • Press up your body in a smooth and slow motion, and as you reach the top of the movement, lower your body while contracting your shoulder blades together, as you usually do with a lat pull machine at the gym.


7) Pushups on a stability ball

This exercise requires you to engage your core and other major upper-body muscles for perfect balance on the ball.


  • Start by standing in front of a stability ball.
  • Place both your hands on the ball, and keep your legs extended fully behind you.
  • Lower your body, just like a basic pushup, and return to the top.



Having a strong and toned upper body helps you become more efficient and confident as a runner. Therefore, it’s important to incorporate these exercises into your everyday workout routine.

Perform the above-mentioned upper body exercises regularly and see how the strength and endurance in your back, chest, shoulders and arms help improve you as a runner.

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