Runners give a lot of credit to their legs for getting them past the finish line, but forget about the upper body which keeps them stable while running. You would see quads and hamstrings get a rub down after intense workouts, but beginners often forget that your upper body is equally vital to running with the right form, and thus minimising injuries. Routines focusing on the lower body often take priority on strength-training days. Several runners are also under the misplaced notion that working towards a ‘bulky’ upper body may lead to reduced flexibility and slower performance on the field.
In reality, your arms and shoulders play an important role in endurance training. As your foot strikes the ground, your arms maintain a rhythmic motion complementing the movement of your legs—this helps in conserving energy. Meanwhile, your shoulders, if positioned as per proper running form, allow the diaphragm to expand to its fullest extent to ensure adequate oxygen supply. A stable upper core also helps in preventing excess rotation of the body during running, which further reduces wasted motion.
Keep yourself moving forward with these 4 upper body workouts and strength exercises that target core areas such as your shoulders, arms, biceps and elbows. You can perform these upper body workouts 2-3 times per week, preferably on your strength training days or when you hit the gym. Don’t forget 5-10 minutes of warm-up before the workout and take the advice of a trainer while choosing your weights, especially if you’re new to strength training.
• Start standing, feet hip-width apart. Hold five-pound dumbbells at your sides with the backs of your hands facing forward.
• Lift the dumbbells straight up to the level of your chest, keeping the palms facing towards your body.
• Lower back to the starting position. Repeat this 12-15 times in three sets.
• Stand with your feet hip-width apart and arms relaxed at your sides, holding the dumbbells such that your palms face inward toward your body.
• Shrug your shoulders up to your ears, hold it for four counts. Slowly release your shoulders. Repeat this 20 times in three sets.
• You can do chair dips anywhere you find a sturdy chair. Start by sitting at the edge with your hands secure on the chair so that you don’t slip off. Your knees should not bend past your toes.
• Slowly lower your body downward. Be careful that your elbows don’t bend to an angle smaller than 90 degrees.
• Extend your arms, raising your body upward and support your weight with your arms. Beginners can try 1 set of 6 to 8 reps. More conditioned exercisers can try 3 sets of 10-12 reps.
• Start in an elevated plank position with a medicine or kettle ball under your body for your palms to land on. Your hands will be slightly inside shoulder-width.
• Bend both elbows and lower down until your chest hovers above the floor. Your elbows will flare out as you lower yourself, while pressing down on the ball in front of you.
• Do about 5 -10 reps if you’re a beginner.