Upper Body Strength Training - Body Weight Only

 

By Rick Morris

 

Do you really need to develop your upper body to perform well as a distance runner? Probably not, but I am convinced that you do need some upper body strength training to reach your peak potential. Your upper body strength contributes significantly to your overall stride mechanics. Your arm action, shoulder strength and upper body posture all play a role in generating power and efficiency in your stride. In addition to stride mechanics and power, a strong upper body will fatigue less quickly during long races. Wouldn’t you like to avoid those sore and weary shoulders during the final miles of your marathons?

 

There are other reasons I think you should perform upper body strength training on a consistent basis. You always want to maintain a good balance in body strength. You are already working your core and lower body, so to maintain proper balance you really need to do some upper body work. Upper body strength is also critical for weight loss and overall fitness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Push Ups

 

Begin face down on the ground with your upper body supported by your hands and extended arms. Your lower body is supported on your toes.

Don’t arch or sway your back. Your hands and arms should be about shoulder width apart.

Slowly lower your upper body until your chest nearly touches the ground.

Push yourself back up to your starting position.

 

Decline Push Ups

 

Begin this exercise with your upper body supported by your hands and extended arms on the ground. Your body should be straight with your lower body supported by your toes on a bench or step of 16 to 24 inches in height.

Don’t arch or sway your back. Your hands and arms should be about shoulder width apart.

Slowly lower your upper body until your chest nearly touches the ground.

Push yourself back up to your starting position.

 

Twist and Reach

 

This is a variation on a basic push up that adds in shoulder rotation training as well as core strength training.

 

Begin by performing a basic push up. Start face down on the ground with your upper body supported by your hands and extended arms. Your lower body is supported on your toes.

Don’t arch or sway your back. Your hands and arms should be about shoulder width apart.

Slowly lower your upper body until your chest nearly touches the ground.

Push yourself back up to your starting position.

Now rotate your body to the right and reach up as far as possible with your right hand.

Return to the starting position and repeat this exercise twisting to the left and reaching with your left hand.

Repeat until you reach a moderate level of fatigue.

 

Dive Bomber Push Ups

 

Begin in a pike position with your feet spread side and your arms about shoulder width apart and placed in front of your body.

Drop your head and upper body forward and towards the ground by bending or flexing your elbows.

Arch your back and continue to drive your upper body down and low along the ground in a “dive bomber” motion.

In the same continuous motion push your upper body by straightening your arms in a push up motion and arch your head  and upper body up. Keep your core and hips low to the ground with your back arched smoothly.

Now perform the same motion in reverse back to your pike starting position.

 

Bench Dips

 

Begin in a face up position with your upper body supported by your extended arms and hands on a bench and your lower body supported by your heels on the ground.

Keeping your legs extended, drop your hips toward the ground by allowing your arms to flex at the elbow.

Control this downward movement using your triceps muscles on the back of your upper arm.

Return to your starting position by extending your arms. Focus on driving your body up using your triceps muscles.

 

Triceps Push Ups

 

Begin face down on the floor in a basic push up position with your body straight, your arms fully extended and your lower body supported by your toes.

Move your hands close together until they are almost touching under your chest.

Keeping your elbows tight against your side, lower your body by bending your elbows until your chest nearly touches the ground.

Push yourself back up to your starting position by extending your arms using your triceps. Be sure to keep your elbows against  your side.

Keep your back straight and your head up throughout this exercise.

 

Biceps Side Pulls

 

This exercise, while not quite as effective as the others listed here, is a good alternative if you don’t have access to an appropriate structure for chinning exercises

Lie on your left side with your hips and knees very slightly flexed.

Place your left arm under your left leg with your left hand holding your upper left leg just above your knee.

Now pull your upper body up to the right side using your biceps muscle by driving your left elbow into the ground and strongly flexing your elbow.

Slowly return to your starting position.

Switch sides and repeat this exercise using your right arm.

 

Pull Ups

 

Grab a bar or branch with an open grip (palms facing away from your body).

Pull yourself up until your chin is just above the level of the bar or branch.

Focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together and pulling with your upper back.

Slowly return to your starting position.

Be sure the structure you use for this exercise is sturdy enough to support your weight.

Use whatever structure you can in the area. In these photos a deck facing is used. Be sure to test the structure for sufficient strength.

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