If you’re getting bored with the basic upper body strength training routine for runners, you can kick things up a notch by adding a medicine ball. Like dumbbells, kettlebells and barbells, medicine balls bring added resistance to your workout. Unlike the others, however, the medicine ball causes little damage when it’s thrown, offering you the opportunity to develop power. Remember, your arms are part of your overall running motion, so a good base of upper body strength helps keep your arms, shoulders, neck and upper back from getting fatigued when running. A strong upper body improves your running economy and helps you maintain proper form even as your lower body begins to get tired. A powerful upper body will help you drive up hills and finish off your opponents during your finishing kick.
Do this routine once or twice per week or simply replace one of your basic upper body strength routines with this one once per week.
Medicine Ball Chest Pass
This exercise improves chest strength and power. Whether you do it with a partner or against a wall, focus on passing the ball straigh forward as hard as you can. Your muscles will get a workout on both ends as they explosively contract to push the ball outward and then work to decelerate the ball on its return.
Medicine Ball Overhead Throw
The overhead throw is a variation on the medicine ball chest pass that shifts the focus to the shoulders. Keep yourself stable and focused on your shoulders be tightening your abdominal muscles through the entire exercise.
Medicine Ball Pullovers
Pullovers primarily target the upper back (latissimus dorsi, aka your “lats”) and your shoulders and chest to a lesser extent. The great thing about pullovers is that they allow you target your upper back without using your biceps – often a weak link that limits the amount of resistance you can employ for back exercises.
Medicine Ball Front Raise
The front raise targets your shoulders. As with the overhead throw, focus your energy on the shoulder by tightening your abdominal muscles. Keep your trunk stable and don’t arch your back.
Medicine Ball Curls
This simple exercise is a medicine ball version of the bicep curls that are often the first exercise anyone does when they pick up a barbell. Lock your elbows in position close to your body and don’t arch your back.
Medicine Ball Tricep Extension
The tricep extension focuses on the back of your upper arms. As with the curls above, you should keep your elbows locked in position next to your head, using only your triceps to move the ball.
Medicine Ball Vertical Throw
For a more total body workout, add this vertical throw to your routine. Powerfully launching the ball upwards will work your calves, thighs, hips, back, shoulders and triceps.