Science Backed Reasons Runners Need to Lift Weights: Upper Body Runners Workout

What will it take to finally get you in the gym hefting around some iron? While I’ve been lifting for years, it was never consistent until last years knee injury forced me to find new ways to stay active. Of course I also wanted to do things that would benefit my running when I was able to go again, which includes a upper body runners workout!

Today friend, runner and personal trainer Katherine and I are teaming to give you a little added motivation!

Intuitively, you might recognize the benefit to doing weighted lunges, step ups and squats. But how often do you think about the power needed from your upper body for a strong run??

And I get it…but hey science (and all those super fast elite runners we marvel at) shows we need it!

3 Reasons Runners Need Upper Body Strength

First, let’s just tackle this…I know you’re already trying to fit in your speed workouts, long runs, somestretching, foam rolling and the 8 million hip exercises we’re always recommending.

But you know, from the sharing of our past mistakes, that making time for strength is key too. And if you want to run faster or farther, then it’s time to listen up for some very good reasons to get it done.

There are three main reasons that training your UPPER body will make you a better runner.

Better Biomechanics

Muscle imbalances make us more prone to injury. While running is mostly moving forward, it’s also shifting your weight side to side and requiring your torso to limit excess motion! Running with your arms across the body or a weak core are going to prevent you from maintaining good form, which leads to fatigue and you guessed it, injury.

A great way to practice stabilization is everyone’s favorite the plank!

Practicing the stabilization outside of running, will have your muscles primed and help them to “remember” what they need to do. We call these “anti-rotation” moves.

Anti-rotational exercises build stability and strength to prevent rotation of the lower back in harmful ways…which can easily happen as you fatigue during a run.

A few other anti-rotation exercises to try:

  • Pallof press
  • Single arm TRX row
  • Single leg deadlift (no weight needed intially)
  • Renegade row (from plank position, pull dumbell from floor to chest)

    Better Running Efficency

    What if we told you that by training your upper body, you might just become a more efficient runner?

    Tons of new research indicates that strength training can provide up to an 8% increase in running economy when a resistance training program is followed. Why is that?

    A few reasons:

    • a strong core allows you to hold your posture with less effort, which leaves more energy for your legs
    • strong arms are able to move quicker without fatigue, which entices your feet to move quicker
    • strong arms prevent the excess rotation mentioned above
    • strong arms for sprinters truly are part of their power
    • a strong upper body keeps your lungs open for better breathing.

    Our focus here is on the inclusion of posture focused movements to keep our core stable, our arms pumping and our chest open to keep air flowing.

    These moves will help us limit the hunching and slumping common in our everyday, computer working, lives.

    • Supermans (lying face down on ground, raise both arms and legs for 10 seconds)
    • Cat/Cow (yes the yoga move)
    • Bird dogs

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