What are the Best Upper Body Moves for Runners Part #1

This may surprise you but we think that running all comes down to efficiency. Ok maybe that does not surprise you but we do wonder why so many programs think that laying on your back pressing a barbell off your chest is somehow going to impact your running. What you will hear is, well doing bench press will strengthen the muscles of the shoulder and upper back and help you to hold better posture as you run. Really? Last time I checked I could not get a very good running workout lying on my back. I wish, especially on those really cold mornings where you just want to lay in bed.

There are two theories behind strength training and running. The first is that you are a runner who also wants to look a certain way so you lift weights to help build muscle in your arms and chest  and back or wherever else you want to add muscle size and definition. The second is that you are a more serious runner and you wold like to train in such a way that improves your upper bodies abilities when it comes to making you a better runner.

These exercises are actually built for both theories. Contrary to popular belief you CAN and will firm up, define, and add power to the muscles of the upper body without using weights at all. Most runners simply buy into the mentality that lifting weights brings.

When you think about running and the role of the upper body this can really help determine the type of training you should do to help maximize your ability to run with power. Your stride begins and ends in your hips. The initiation of the linear motion begins in the muscles that constitute the hip flexors and proceeds to create a chain reaction down the legs and up through the torso. Your arms are simply a byproduct of the muscle patterns that are created in your hips.

IMG_2213Runners who have an efficient stride in their lower body almost always have great arm mechanics. Runners who have poor efficiency in their hips almost always have poor arm mechanics as well. Just watch the next time you are around a group of younger sprinters. The kids who have been blessed with a nice stride all have great arm mechanics, those without great strides have arms that are all over the place.

Most running coaches and trainers look at the arm mechanics and try to fix the issues with various arm drills and special equipment that forces your arms to try and manufacture good arm mechanics. Our approach is a little different. These drills and techniques can be helpful but unless you correct the stride, you can do all the arm work you want, you still have an inefficient runner. Remember the key is not to force the body to have proper arm mechanics but instead give it the necessary stimulus to develop natural arm mechanics on its own.

I realize most trainers will say that the fancy equipment is the only way to improve arm mechanics but that is just the limitation of the trainer. As you improve your overall stride, your arm mechanics will also improve. Once you reach a high level of efficiency, then the time to help enhance your already great arm mechanics makes some of these tools a little more valuable.

Scott Olson

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