Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Great Upper Body Exercise to Help You Run Faster

What single upper body resistance training exercise is the most helpful in improving your running efficiency?  If I had to pick just one, it would have to be a Bent Over One-Arm Dumbbell Row.  This exercise is shown in the video below:

The Bent Over One-Arm Dumbbell Row works primarily your upper and mid-back muscles (specifically known as your rhomboids and latissimus dorsi) with the biceps assisting in the action.  When performing this exercise, you want to initiate the lift with these back muscles as opposed to tugging with your arm.  When you are running, your rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, and biceps are all critical in getting up a hill or increasing your speed.  In this video, I have my client doing these rows faster than I would have a non-runner do because of the specificity of running - running requires a quick pump of the arms.

I also have runners choose a weight that they can do with good form for at least 12 to 15 reps - I am looking to train my runners for muscle endurance, not pure strength, so I go with this relatively high number of reps as the goal.  Remember, long distance running requires your muscles to repetitively contract for a sustained period, not just for a few reps. 

The Bent Over One-Arm Dumbbell Row should also help improve your posture. Upright posture is critical to efficient running form.  Combine these One-Arm Dumbbell Rows with some good Core Exercises (e.g., Front Plank and Back Extensions) and you should see a substantial improvement in your running posture over time.

Do you have a favorite upper body resistance training exercise?