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A lot of people talk about training their legs, but are legs everything? What about your arm strength? Does arm strength need working on to become a successful runner?

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depending on your style of running

sprinting, HELL YEAH about 1/3 of your momentum in sprinting comes from the arms.

in distance it depends. i use mine for a final kick, also good for use in skating along the same rules.

since i don't sprint i do arms just to basically keep them up for "kicks" and uphills. arms help a lot in skating uphill.
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Judging by the looks of elite/top distance runners, I'd say there's not a whole lot of need for pipes. Personally, I keep the indoor rower in my routine just to keep the arms from turning to mush. And vanity aside, a balanced body will serve you better in life as a whole, so I think some type of arm workout is appropriate, but as for how much it's going to help you in a 10k, halfM or marathon... not a huge amount I'd say.
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I don't disagree with JRJO but I'd contend, that especially during longer distances if you don't have enough shoulder or arm strength your form will suffer greatly during the last couple of miles of a race.
It takes a good amt of strength to maintain a good swing throughout an entire race, mine arms begin to crop up to high, and an inefficient cross swing appears when I'm on the verge of glycogen depravation/tiring.
During long training runs when i begin to tire, if I pay particular attention to my arm swing and try to maintain good form, I can prevent myself from slowing down to dramatically. Take a look at a runner that is on the verge of losing it or has lost it durning a long race and notice what they are doing with their arms....
Now does that mean that I think you should start doing, 80lb curls to start building dem pipes? Nope, rowing would be good like JRJO to build adequate arm and shoulder stamina or a short workout in front of a mirror holding 5-10 lb dumbells while imitating a good armswing will help too.
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megawill
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I'm going to go 'tween JR and mega. I don't think arm strength is the biggest factor that you need to worry about...but definitely agree that if you haven't done form runs or high rep workouts, your arms can definitely affect a long distance race negatively with a cross swing. When the glycogen isn't going to your brain in a marathon efficiently, it pretty evident that you don't have the strength or mindset to realize that you arms are out of whack, basically your concentration is focused on where your fuel station is and putting one leg in front of the other.

I'd put arm strength toward the bottom of importance. But I'd put it high on the list of getting it right. When I started in long distance years ago, my upper body strength was too significant. I haven't lifted at all for almost 2 years. last year I was probably good, this year NOT. My arms were sore following my marathon last weekend. It was apparent that my arms were high and swing across my body.

I knew two months ago that my core strength was weakened, but you don't start a lifting and strength program in the middle of high mileage marathon training. When your working on your basic mileage and hills, that's the time to work your arms. and don't forget your abs----very important to keep you form at all distances. Nice abs will keep you nice and tall.....but again, if you "overdo" it, it's excess weight that you need to carry. I think that's why pylometrics and pilates are so popular amongst elite runners now, it's strength training without bulking up.
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For me, running 10 miles in 90 minutes is something I'm very happy about, so I don't suppose anything I have really applies to many people on here. I weigh 195, so I'm not setting any records. I'm trying to get down to 175 to improve my times, but I'm not overweight as it is, so it's pretty hard.

Anyway, I've been lifting twice a week for several months, and I do notice that it helps my form. It's really easy for me to keep my arms pumping in perfect form, even when I'm getting really tired. I'll be running along at a sad 8-minute mile pace, but my arms are in perfect sprinter-like form, and it carries my legs with them. I was a 400 runner in high school, and I like having a strong kick, even at the end of a 6-mile run.

Last summer I wasn't lifting, but I was still running as much. Without the arm strength, when I would get tired, I would eventually slow down and just be jogging with a cross-chest arm motion if I didn't put a lot of effort into concentrating on my form.
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I lift three days a week focusing on arms, chest and shoulders. I haven't seen any detrimental effect whatsoever other than I'm probably carrying more weight than I really need. If I was a highly competitive runner I would rethink the weight lifting in an effort to lighten up but I don't think I'd give it up.
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For upper body strength, especially for long distance runners, abdomen strength is probably the most important upperbody muscle. But hey, why not have some arms to push somebody out of your way?
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