Running isn’t just about your legs – you need to train your upper body too. Find out why upper body strength is so important to runners
There’s no escaping your legs when it comes to running – when you hit the final stretch on a marathon or 10k you’ll feel the burn and know exactly why good runners need strong legs. But what about the upper body?
It’s more important than you might think. It’s true that you don’t want to bulk up – just look at the different body shapes of runners and bodybuilders – but you still need to work on your strength.
Keeping you stable on a run
The faster you run, the less time you’re in contact with the ground. That’s when the upper body comes into its own.
It helps you keep your balance when you’re not in contact with the ground, so you can maintain good form as you increase your pace without affecting your efficiency.
It also helps you generate a more efficient push-off as most of the power from your push-off comes from the hips, not the glutes.
By keeping you stable, a strong core improves your hip extension, allowing your glutes to do the work of propelling you off the ground.
Maintaining your running stance
Keeping your form helps to:
- maintain efficiency – when you lean forward in your stance or arch your back, you inhibit your core muscles, making your hip extension less efficient, forcing your legs to work that much harder to achieve a good push-off.
- increase the amount of oxygen in the lungs – by opening up the chest and keeping upright, you can draw more oxygen into the muscles, keeping you going over longer distances and helping to fight fatigue.
- Learn more about the importance of form here
And again, upper body strength is essential, particularly your lats and lower traps – these are the large muscles across the top of your back and between the shoulder blades.
With good strength in these areas, you can keep your shoulder blades back for a better posture and also improve stability through your spine and pelvis.