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You can run for miles and miles every day, and you may lose weight. But ultimately, you won’t be gaining strength in a critical part of your body - your core, chest, shoulders and arms. Strong legs are important, of course, but a strong upper body not only helps you look great, but it can also improve your running. With this in mind, here are some of the great exercises you can do to improve your upper body strength.
Push ups are so cheap and easy to do that there is literally no excuse for doing them. Sure, if you are out of shape they can be tough, but put in a shift every other day and you will soon start to see an almost immediate difference. If you are struggling, leave your knees on the ground which will take the weight off., And as you improve your strength, start supporting yourself with your feet, and putting your hands in different widths to have more of an impact. You can also start raising your legs with a fitness ball or put them on a chair.
Chin ups - or pull ups - are an excellent way to strengthen your back, and, of course, tone up your arms. But because you are using the whole of your body to lift yourself up, it's also fantastic for all-around strength. And whether you go for the best chin up bar you can find or just use a robust and stable branch on a tree in your local park, the effect is just the same - a stronger upper body and a more tone in your arms, back, and shoulders.
Bench dips are another simple exercise to get you started improving your upper body strength. All you need is two chairs facing each other, with your feet on one and your hands supporting you on another. Then it’s just a case of dipping as low as you possibly can. Again, at first your dips will be pretty shallow, but that’s OK. Over time you will find you can get lower and lower - and stronger and stronger.
Planks are a nightmare for anyone that hasn’t tried them before. Effectively, you put yourself in the press up position and drop down, so your elbows are supporting you rather than your hands. And that’s all there is to it - sounds easy, right? The reality is somewhat different, unfortunately! You will wobble, strain, it is going to be painful, and your head will feel like it is about to burst. But the more you do it, the longer you will last - and it’s perfect for getting fit, building upper body strength right from your core.
Arm lifts are another way to improve your upper body strength as well as your core. Start with some light dumbbells, for moving up to heavier ones when you can manage it. Eventually, you can try the exercise with a medicine ball or kettle ball. Again, it sounds easy, but you’ll soon find out it can be tough going and will work your body to the max.