Push ups are a fundamental core exercise. It is probably one of the first ‘exercises’ we learn and can vary in difficulty depending on how you do them. However, it can be hard for a runner to see why doing an exercise which focuses on your arms and chest would benefit your training or make you run faster. Push ups can even be an indicator as to what your running style is like and what you may need to do to improve it! So, here are some ways push ups help runners:
#1 – Push Ups Strengthen Your Core
When you do a push up, you have to try and ensure your whole body is locked into position. Your bum and tummy can’t be slacking, but must be in a fairly straight and firm position. It requires quite a bit of strength to maintain that position whilst moving up and down. If your stomach and pelvis sink towards the ground during the downwards phase of the push up, it is likely you core needs strengthening and that your shoulders are unstable. Runners who perform these type of ‘soft’ push ups are more likely to run with an overextended stride which can lead to debilitating problems such as lower back and IT band pain. By strengthening your core you can reduce the risk of these problems and run faster!
#2 – Push Ups are a Full Body Exercise
Most people just think about the arm action of the push up, but your pectorals (chest muscles) work to stop you from collapsing to the ground so quickly and your core muscles help to keep you stabilised. In fact, these muscle groups are activated during push ups: biceps, triceps, quadriceps, anterior deltoids (upper back muscles) and core muscles including the obliques, rectus abdominus and erector spinae. By engaging so many muscle groups at once you are working on many muscle groups which also become engaged when running, which can help to reduce the risk of injury, improve stability when running and improve performance.
#3 – Push Ups can Reinforce Arm Swing
The way your arms work during push ups can say a lot about how your arms work when you’re running. If you can keep your arms parallel to your body, it is likely your arms go back and forth more when you are running and are less likely to go side to side due to problems with core stability. By focusing on keeping your arms straight and parallel to your body during push ups, you can inadvertently work on your arm swing without even running.
#4 – Push Ups Enhance Your Cardiovascular System
Since push ups are a compound exercise that activates lots of muscle groups at once, your body demands a large supply of oxygen. This means your heart has to work hard in order to pump oxygen to all the muscle tissue in the body in order to release energy during respiration. Because of this, push ups are an effective cardiovascular exercise to support heart health and help aid the reduction of stored body fat.
Extra Reasons to do Push Ups
- Push ups can be executed pretty much anywhere
- They take up very little time (no excuses here!)
- They can easily be incorporated as part of a bodyweight circuit
- Increase functional strength
- Many variations of push ups can be done to increase or decrease difficulty
Do you incorporate push ups as part of your training? Let me know down below!