Monthly Challenge for Runners: Upper Body Strength

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upper body strength for runners, upper body strength, runners, monthly challenge for runners, monthly exercise challenge Monthly Challenge for Runners: Upper Body Strength www.runnerclick.com

Are you a runner who just runs? Mileage, distance, and speed are important but your joints are encountering high impact activity and, if by chance, you have strength deficits, weakness, tightness or imbalances you could be setting yourself up for injury. Strength is important for several reasons like power and speed, but more importantly for efficiency. Improving your running form should be a top priority for all runners and this can be done through not only core and leg work but also upper body moves. Hello improved sprints, hill work, and needless to say awesome posture!

Let me tell you more…

Improved posture results in the possibility of enhanced performance. With fatigue that comes over time with long runs, losing form can decrease our efficiency output thus affecting the quality of the run. This goes without mentioning the poor posture we demonstrate through daily activities like sitting at a computer or using cellphones. If we strengthen our muscles that improve posture over time, we will reduce early fatigue and thus we will be able to hold our form longer, resulting in better performance. Also, regularly practicing strength training can also improve your muscles’ abilities to store glycogen which ultimately improves your energy sources for those longer runs. Additionally, stronger upper bodies can also improve arm swing which helps control your rhythm. So, there you have it; no more saying NO to strength training and what better way to get started than with a monthly challenge for runners: targeting the upper body!

Here’s the deal…
Each week, for 4 weeks, you will be given 5 exercises to try, 1 per day with 2 rest days of your choosing. Try to do 3 sets of 10 of each exercise. At most, you will only need a resistance band and body weight. Therefore, these exercises are inexpensive and easily accessible for travel, so no excuses. The program is meant to give you some flexibility but also to give you a full range of upper body exercises to try throughout the month. Ideally, you will be able to incorporate an upper body workout routine using some or all the monthly challenge exercises at least 1-2 times a week, following the challenge.

Week 1

External Rotation

Shoulder External Rotation:

In sitting or standing, hold a resistance band with both hands. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees and pinch the elbows in towards the hips. Start with the band taut and pivot the hands out away from each other, keeping the elbows in contact with the hips. Return back to start position in a controlled manner, without letting the band whip you back.

Abduction

Shoulder Abduction: 

In standing, step on one end of the band and with the opposite hand, hold the band taut to the side of the same leg. With the palm facing the floor and the arm in line with the body, raise the straight arm to shoulder height increasing tension on the band. Return to start position without letting the band whip you back. Repeat on the other arm.

Flexion

Shoulder Flexion: 

In standing, step on one end of the band and hold the other end with one hand, keeping the band taut in front of the same thigh. With the palm facing the floor and the arm in front of the body, raise the straight arm to shoulder height increasing tension on the band. Return to start position without letting the band whip you back. Repeat on the other arm.

Diagonal

Shoulder Diagonal Flexion: 

In standing, hold the band taut with both hands. Keeping the left arm straight by side, start with the right hand towards left hip and raise the right arm with thumb up to a 45 degree angle up overhead to the right, to create a diagonal line across body with the band (or like making one half of the letter Y as in the YMCA song). Return to start position without letting the band whip you back. Repeat on the other arm.

Regular Push Up
Modified Push-Up

Regular Push Up:

Get into a plank position with your hands slightly wider than shoulders. Slowly lower your body while bending elbows out about 45 degrees away from the body as low as you can go with good form (avoid arching low back or dropping head). Push arms straight back to plank position while maintaining flat back. These can be quite challenging at first and a modified position is suggested if the form is being compromised in which you can start on bent knees instead. Repeat with either position as long as good form can be maintained. Modified position can be followed in future push-ups that will be mentioned, as well.

Week 2 

YTI

YTI:

Start on the stomach with a small, rolled up towel under forehead. Raise both arms up to a Y position with the thumbs up. Try to keep the top of shoulders down and away from ears as you lift the arms up and off from the ground. Lower and bring arms out to a T position with the palms facing the floor, elevate and lower. Finally, bring both hands down towards the hips into an I position with thumbs down, elevate and lower.

M

M: 

Start on stomach with a small, rolled up towel under forehead. Raise both arms up to a Y position with the thumbs up. Using your thumbs to lead, draw an imaginary letter M while keeping the top of shoulders down and away from ears as you lift.

Superman

Superman:

Start on your stomach. Raise both arms overhead with palms facing the floor. Elevate both the arms and the legs at the same time and hold for a brief second. Lower slowly back to the floor.

Swimmers

Swimmers:

Start on your stomach. Raise both arms overhead with the palms facing the floor. Elevate both the arms and the legs at the same time. While elevated, alternate the opposite arms and legs to create small, swim like pulses.

Wide Push Up

Wide Push Up:

Get into a plank position with your hands much wider than shoulders. Slowly lower your body while bending elbows out about 45 degrees away from the body as low as you can go with good form (avoid arching low back or dropping head). Push arms straight back to plank position while maintaining flat back. Reminder to use modified position if needed.

Week 3

Row

Row:

Place the band securely on the inside door handle and close the door or place on a secure bar. In a standing or seated position, hold one end of the band in each hand until the band is taut. Bend the elbows to 90 degrees and then squeeze the shoulder blades together to bring the elbow back past the hips while increasing the band tension. Return back to start position without letting the band whip you back.

Lat Pull Down

Lat Pull Down:

Place the middle of the band on the top corner of a door and securely close the door or on a secure bar. In a standing or seated position, hold one end of the band in each hand, keeping the band taut, starting with the arms overhead. Pull the band down while letting the elbows bend out to the side and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Return back to start position without letting the band whip you back.

Reverse Back Fly

Reverse Back Fly:

In standing or sitting, hold the band in both hands taut at shoulder height in front of the body. Pull the band tight while bringing each arm away from each other, keep the arms straight while pinching the shoulder blades together. Return back to start position without letting the band whip you back.

Dolphin

Dolphin:

Starting in a forearm plank with the elbows under shoulders, push the hips up towards the sky while the head drops between the arms. Return back to low plank position.

Diamond Push Up

Diamond Push Up:

With the pointer fingers and the thumbs of each hand touching, create the shape of a diamond with your hands. Place the diamond shape under your chest and raise to the top of a push-up position. Lower chest while letting elbows bend out to 45-degree position. Return back to start. Reminder to use modified position if needed.

Week 4

Concentration Curl

Concentration Curl:

In a deep sumo squat, step on the end of the band with the left foot and grab the band taut with the right hand. Place the elbow of the right arm on the inside thigh of the right leg. Bend the elbow up towards the shoulder increasing tension on the band. Return to start position without letting the band whip you back. Repeat on the other arm.

Single Arm Tricep Pull Down

Single Arm Tricep Pull Down:

Hold the end of the band in each hand, keeping it taut. Keeping the left elbow bent and hand towards left shoulder, straighten the right elbow towards the floor, increasing the tension on the band. Return to start position without letting the band whip you back. Repeat on the other arm.

Rotating Bicep Curls

Rotating Bicep Curls:

In standing, step on the middle of the band with both feet. Hold the ends of the band in each hand with the band taut. Start with arms straight in front with palms facing thighs. Bend the elbows upbringing hands towards the shoulders while turning the palms up towards the sky. Return back to start position without letting the band whip you back.

Tricep Dips

Triceps Dips:

Sit on the floor with the hands placed under shoulders and knees over feet. Lift the buttocks up off from the ground so weight is in both hands and feet. Slowly bend your elbows back to lower your body toward the floor. Push down into the floor to straighten your elbows, returning to your starting position.

Military Push Up

Military Push Up:

Start in a push-up position, keeping hands at shoulder width. As you slowly lower chest towards the floor, bend and keep elbows close to the sides near the ribs. Straighten the arms back to start position, keeping the elbows close to the body. Reminder to use modified position if needed.

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