Tone Your Arms

The best distance athletes don’t just have impressive quads and glutes. They also have muscular arms and shoulders that help them maintain speed throughout their races.

When you run, your arms counterbalance the motion of your legs, resulting in saved energy. The swing of the arms helps propel the body forward so the lower body isn’t doing all the work. And a strong upper body bolsters a runner’s form when fatigue sets in.

Do these exercises twice a week, after a run or as a stand-alone workout.

Chair Dip

  • Sit in a sturdy chair with your hands gripping the seat.
  • Walk your feet forward.
  • Lower yourself until your upper arms are parallel to the ground.
  • Then push back up.
  • Do two sets of 12 to 15 reps.

Quick tip

Squeeze your abs and glutes, but let your arms do the work.

Resistance Rows

  • Secure a resistance band to a stable object at chest height, grabbing the free ends in each hand.
  • Stretch your arms out in front of you, stagger your feet for balance, and squeeze your core muscles.
  • the band back until your hands are beside your chest, keeping your elbows at shoulder level.
  • Maintain control as you return to the starting position.
  • Do two sets of 12 to 15 reps.

Quick tip

Choose a band that barely allows you to do the last rep of each set with perfect form.

Resistance-Band Sprints

  • Using a resistance band as above, stagger your feet and pull in your abdominal muscles for balance.
  • Swing arms quickly back and forth, as if you were sprinting.
  • Keep your feet planted.
  • Do two sets of 12 to 15 reps.
  • To train the opposing muscle groups, turn away from the band’s centre and repeat the arm motion.

Quick tip

You may want to try different band lengths and/or levels of resistance until you find one that allows you to closely match your swing.


  • Get into a plank position with your hands slightly outside your shoulders.
  • Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor.
  • Pause, then push back up.
  • Do two sets of 12 to 15 reps.

Quick tip

Tighten your glutes throughout to stabilise your hips. If they do sag, consider that your last rep and end the set.

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2 Responses to Tone Your Arms

  1. Henry Mngomezulu 21 February 2013 at 2:01 pm #

    That’s right. An athlete doesn’t have to appear in skinny arms, as if he’s a sick person. It works for me, since I started toning my arms, I’ve experienced a huge difference (more energy, improved speed, balance etc) Try it, you’ll see.

  2. Sunette Barnard 8 November 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    I rely on my arms a lot while running! Long and short distances. AND..I love good toned armes!!!

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