Running Athlete

Arm Workouts for Runners

5 Essential Arm Exercises for Runners to Improve Speed and Endurance


As a runner, you may already understand the importance of strong legs and a robust cardiovascular system for peak performance. However, have you ever considered the significant role your arms play in your running abilities? Many runners tend to focus primarily on lower-body workouts, neglecting the potential benefits of training their upper body.

In this blog, we’ll delve into the world of “Arm Workouts for Runners” and explore how strengthening your arms can complement and enhance your running performance. We’ll discuss the biomechanics of arm movement while running, the impact of proper arm swing on your speed and endurance, and the vital connection between upper body stability and lower body propulsion.

Arm Workouts for Runners

If you want to take your running to the next level and maximize your potential, incorporating targeted arm exercises into your training routine is essential. Not only will it improve your overall performance, but it will also reduce the risk of injuries and create a well-balanced and efficient runner’s body.

So, let’s dive in and discover the top arm workouts that will help you become a stronger, faster, and more resilient runner!

Understanding the Role of Arms in Running

When we think about running, our focus often goes straight to the legs, but the arms play a crucial role in the overall mechanics of efficient and powerful running. The arms serve as dynamic stabilizers and contributors to forward propulsion, working in sync with the legs to maintain balance and optimize performance. Let’s explore the key aspects of how arms impact running:

1. Biomechanics of Arm Movement: The motion of your arms while running is not just random flailing; it follows a specific pattern that complements your leg movements. As your right leg moves forward, your left arm swings forward, and vice versa. This coordinated movement helps counterbalance the motion of your legs and aids in maintaining a smooth gait.

2. Arm Swing and Running Efficiency: The way you swing your arms can significantly affect your running efficiency. A proper arm swing not only provides balance but also conserves energy and propels you forward. When your arms swing naturally, it reduces the rotational forces in your upper body, allowing you to direct more energy to your forward movement.

proper running technique

3. Impact on Speed and Endurance: Efficient arm movement directly impacts your speed and endurance. If your arms are strong and coordinated, you’ll be able to maintain proper running form for longer distances and at higher speeds. Neglecting arm strength could lead to increased fatigue and compromised running mechanics, hindering your overall performance.

4. Upper Body Stability and Lower Body Propulsion: Your upper body stability is closely linked to the propulsion generated by your lower body. A stable and engaged upper body enables your lower body muscles to work more efficiently, resulting in increased power and reduced energy wastage. Engaging your core and keeping your arms strong and active during running helps maintain this crucial stability.

By understanding the integral role of your arms in running mechanics, you can make targeted efforts to improve your arm strength and coordination. In the next section, we will explore the top five arm workouts specifically designed to enhance the upper body strength of runners, ultimately leading to improved performance on the track or trail.

Top 5 Arm Workouts for Runners

1. Push-ups:

  • Targeted Muscles: Chest, shoulders, triceps, and core.
  • Benefits: Push-ups are an excellent compound exercise that strengthens the upper body and core, enhancing stability during running. They also help build shoulder strength, which is crucial for maintaining arm swing efficiency.
  • How to Perform: Start in a plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart. Lower your body until your chest almost touches the ground, then push back up to the starting position. Keep your core engaged and maintain a straight line from head to heels throughout the movement.

2. Dumbbell Bicep Curls:

  • Allows for increased air intake, supporting the demands of high-intensity exercises.
  • Helps cool down the body faster, preventing overheating during intense workouts.
  • Effective for managing breathing during sprints and short bursts of energy.

3. Tricep Dips:

  • Targeted Muscles: Triceps and shoulders.
  • Benefits: Tricep dips target the muscles at the back of your arms, which play a significant role in pushing movements during running. Strengthening these muscles helps improve arm propulsion and form.
  • How to Perform: Sit on the edge of a stable surface (e.g., a bench or chair) with your hands gripping the edge beside your hips. Walk your feet forward and lower your body, bending your elbows until they reach a 90-degree angle. Push through your palms to raise your body back up, engaging your triceps.

4. Resistance Band Pull-Aparts:

  • Targeted Muscles: Shoulders, upper back, and rear deltoids.
  • Benefits: Resistance band pull-aparts work on the muscles responsible for arm swing coordination, helping to improve upper body posture during running. They also strengthen the upper back, which contributes to overall stability.
  • How to Perform: Hold a resistance band with both hands in front of you, arms extended at shoulder height. Pull the band apart, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of reps.

5. Plank Arm Reaches:

  • Targeted Muscles: Core, shoulders, and chest.
  • Benefits: Plank arm reaches engage both your core and upper body simultaneously, replicating the movement of arm swing during running. They promote better coordination and stability throughout your run.
  • How to Perform: Start in a plank position with your forearms on the ground, elbows directly below your shoulders. While maintaining a stable plank, reach one arm forward, then bring it back down and repeat with the other arm. Keep your hips level and engage your core throughout the exercise.

Incorporate these arm workouts for runners into your training routine to develop a strong and efficient upper body that complements your running performance. Remember to start with a weight or resistance level that challenges you without compromising proper form. Gradually increase intensity as you progress, and always prioritize rest and recovery to prevent overtraining and injuries. Happy running!

Integrating Arm Workouts into Your Running Routine

Now that you’re familiar with the top arm workouts for runners, the next step is to seamlessly incorporate them into your training routine. By strategically adding these exercises to your schedule, you can enhance your upper body strength and coordination, leading to improved running performance. Here are some effective ways to integrate arm workouts into your running routine:

Arm Workouts for Runners
Integration StrategyDescription
Pre-run Warm-upPerform a quick arm warm-up with dynamic stretches, arm circles, and light bodyweight exercises before starting your run.
Cross-Training DaysDesignate specific days for cross-training and focus on arm workouts while giving your legs a break.
Post-run Arm ExercisesIncorporate arm exercises into your post-run routine to cool down and prevent stiffness in your upper body.
Circuit TrainingCombine arm exercises with bodyweight or lower body exercises in a circuit format for maximum calorie burn and fitness.
Alternate Workout DaysAlternate between running days and strength training days, including arm workouts and exercises for other muscle groups.
Supersets and IntervalsIncorporate supersets or intervals during arm workouts to challenge your cardiovascular system and enhance endurance.
Functional Arm MovementsInclude arm exercises that mimic running movements like resistance band pull-aparts or medicine ball throws.

Tips for Optimal Arm Workout Nutrition and Injury Prevention

Arm Workout Nutrition:

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your arm workouts to stay hydrated and support muscle function.
  • Pre-Workout Snack: Consume a balanced snack 1-2 hours before your arm workout, combining carbs for energy and protein for muscle support.
  • Post-Workout Protein: Consume a protein-rich snack or meal within 30 minutes after your arm workout to aid muscle recovery and growth.
  • Include Healthy Fats: Incorporate healthy fats from sources like avocados, nuts, and olive oil to support joint health and reduce inflammation.
  • Avoid Heavy Meals: Avoid heavy or large meals close to your arm workouts to prevent discomfort and allow for better digestion.
  • Consider Supplements: Consider supplements like creatine or branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) to support muscle recovery and reduce muscle soreness.
running technique

Injury Prevention:

  • Warm-Up: Always perform a proper warm-up before your arm workout to increase blood flow and reduce the risk of injury.
  • Use Proper Form: Focus on maintaining correct form throughout your arm exercises to avoid unnecessary strain on your muscles and joints.
  • Gradual Progression: Increase the intensity or weight of your arm exercises gradually over time to prevent overuse injuries.
  • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to any signs of pain or discomfort during your workouts. Rest and seek professional advice if needed.
  • Stretch After Workout: Stretch your arms and upper body after your arm workout to improve flexibility and reduce muscle tightness.
  • Cross-Train: Include a variety of exercises in your routine to avoid overloading specific muscle groups and reduce the risk of repetitive strain injuries.
  • Rest and Recovery: Allow sufficient rest between arm workouts to give your muscles time to repair and grow stronger.
  • Ice and Compression: Apply ice and compression to any sore or inflamed areas after your workouts to reduce swelling and aid recovery.

By following these tips for arm workout nutrition and injury prevention, you can optimize your training and keep your upper body strong, healthy, and injury-free.


In conclusion of arm workouts for runners, incorporating arm workouts into your running routine is a valuable strategy to enhance your overall performance as a runner. Strengthening your upper body not only improves arm swing efficiency but also provides stability and balance during running. By regularly performing targeted arm exercises like push-ups, dumbbell bicep curls, tricep dips, resistance band pull-aparts, and plank arm reaches, you can achieve a well-rounded and powerful upper body.

Remember to integrate arm workouts strategically into your training plan, ensuring proper warm-up, and allowing for rest and recovery to prevent injuries and overtraining. Alongside a balanced nutrition plan and attentive injury prevention strategies, you’ll unleash your full running potential and achieve new heights in your fitness journey.

So, start incorporating these arm workouts into your running routine today and witness the remarkable impact they can have on your running performance. Happy running and arm strengthening!


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