Strong shoulders help runners move their arms more efficiently, which contributes to a faster pace.
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Having strong shoulders offers many benefits for runners, most of all contributing to being a more efficient and faster runner. The shoulder is made up of eight muscles. While running, these muscles work together to support forward momentum and together with the core, help stabilize the leg muscles. Strong shoulder muscles can reduce injuries and improve running efficiency. There are several ways to build your shoulders for running.
Using Gym Equipment
Equipment like cables and barbells can help runners target different muscle groups in addition to their shoulder muscles. Professionals recommend that runners focus on bench press, inclined bench press and pull-ups. These tools build the shoulder muscles that are used to support the body's movement while running. The bench press, which works the pectoralis major, coracobrachialis and anterior deltoid muscles, is conducted while laying on a bench. With your arms shoulder-width apart, grab a barbell and bring it down to chest level. Using your arm and shoulder muscles, raise until your arms are fully extended for 10 to 12 repetitions.
The inclined bench press requires a similar movement, but is performed while lying on a bench inclined at 30 to 45 degrees. It builds strength in the deltoids, triceps and chest muscles.
Pull-ups are conducted by hanging on a bar and using your pectoralis major, brachioradalis, trapezius, deltoids, biceps and core muscles to raise your chin above the bar. Strength and ability will determine how many repetitions you complete, with many people only being able to complete a few.
Shoulder Exercises with Free Weights
Dumbbells, medicine balls and kettlebells help runners strengthen their shoulder muscles with a variety of exercises. Kettlebells are quite versatile, but swings are considered among the best ways to build shoulder muscles. Swings offer a total-body workout as they work the shoulder muscles, such as your core and back. Kettlebell swings are considered an aerobic exercise due to their intensity, so many people will do repetitions until they are no longer able to keep good form.
Dumbbells can also be used for a variety of shoulder exercises, with standing rows and lateral pull downs being highly recommended. These exercises focus on building shoulder strength in the shoulder muscles used to propel runners forward.
Strengthening Shoulders Using Your Body
Exercises like pushups, which require no weights, are one of the best options for runners to strengthen shoulder muscles as they can be completed anywhere. They can also be modified to increase difficulty. For example, doing a pushup while raising a single leg, known as the uchi mata pushup, requires more work from your shoulder muscles and engages other muscle groups, including your core, hamstrings and lower back.
Other body-weight exercises include the bear crawl, which helps build agility and strength in several muscle groups, and the inch worm, which works your shoulders, arms and core muscles while building balance and flexibility.
Importance of Technique
Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to strength training. By sacrificing form in order to complete more repetitions, you risk injury and will not actually strengthen your shoulder muscles to your best ability. When starting a strength-training program, consult a personal trainer or physical therapist to ensure you understand proper form. As you try new exercises, focus on perfecting the motion. Establish good form before you start integrating these exercises into high-intensity interval training workouts, which offers a way to increase intensity while strength training.