Strong glutes and quads are obviously an asset for runners, but muscular shoulders and arms help athletes maintain speed during a marathon. When running, the movement of the legs is counterbalanced by the arms, which conserves energy. Swinging arms also help push the body forward, reducing the stress on the lower body. Doing these exercises twice weekly can also strengthen the upper body so you keep proper form even when fatigued during a race.
Alternate Standing Dumbbell Presses
Exercises that use both the upper body and core muscles, like the alternate standing dumbbell press, are particularly useful for runners because both sets of muscles stabilize the body while running. Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Raise the dumbbells to your shoulders and twist your hands so your palms and forearms face forward. Raise the dumbbell in your right hand slowly until your arm is almost completely extended. Lower the dumbbell down to the starting position and repeat the sequence using the left arm. Repeat as many times as you can while controlling your motions and the dumbbell.
Lat Pulldown Exercise
Attach a wide grip bar to a weight machine and load it with 25 pounds to begin. You can increase the amount of weight later as you build muscle. With an overhand grip and your hands shoulder-width apart, grasp the bar while standing. Hold the bar and sit down on the machine. Slowly pull the bar down to your upper chest while keeping your back straight. Hold the weight for three seconds, then lower it back to the starting position. Repeat this sequence for 12 to 15 reps.
Seated Cable Rows
This exercise uses a rowing machine to increase upper-body and core muscle strength. Grasp the bar on the rowing machine and pull weight off the stack while keeping your back straight and legs slightly bent. Pull the bar to your stomach while pulling your shoulder blades back. Pause, then slowly return the weight to the starting position. Repeat this exercise 12 to 15 times.
Dumbbell Lat Raise
With your elbows slightly bent, hold a pair of dumbbells in front of your thighs. Bend your knees and hips slightly, then extend your arms to the side and up, until the elbows reach the shoulders. The elbows should always be above or at the same height as the wrists. Slowly lower the weights and repeat the exercise 20 times.
Poppy Carpenter graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. In addition to teaching journalism to junior high students, she also covers health and fitness for "PUSH Monthly" and Angie's List.