I have written this column for 28 years, with 23 of those years happening in 2020. In all that time, I have zero articles about upper body strength work. Heck, the logo for my coaching team is a T. Rex, partially because they are confident and strong, and partially because they have useless noodle arms. Upper body strength is just not the most important thing for runners. Right?
Yes, right. I’m not going to totally switch my position. You never go full-Rubio. But over the years, I have really come around to the value of consistent upper body resistance training for the secondary benefits that go beyond raw strength. For simple lower body options, here is the 3 Minute Mountain Legs routine and the 8 Minute Speed Legs routine.
As outlined in this 2018 review from the journal Sports Medicine, we know strength training can generally improve speed and running economy. But that review did not have any major findings for upper body strength work specifically. So let’s try to get at the question another way. A 2019 study in the journal Sports found that upper body and core fatigue from short circuit training sessions reduced subsequent running economy. Perhaps an upper body that is more resistant to fatigue could play a positive role in running economy through improved biomechanics.