Sprinting is associated with lower-body dominance, and with good reason. Most of the power in a sprint comes from the legs, after all. But that doesn’t mean it can’t help build some upper-body strength.
A sprinter’s body must be able to generate a lot of power to achieve high speeds, and the upper body also plays an important role in sprinting. Proper sprinting technique engages the whole body, and the arms play an important role in driving that momentum.
While sprinting may not be the best exercise for specifically building upper-body strength, a lot of athletes are surprised by how much their arms and shoulders feel the burn after a few good sprints.
Why is This?
When you sprint, your arms and legs are both working hard to propel you forward. While your leg muscles are doing most of the work, your arms are also helping to generate that forward momentum.
This means that your upper body muscles are being used quite a bit—and they’re getting stronger as a result. This can be beneficial for overall athleticism and may help to improve performance in other activities that require upper-body strength.
The key is to keep your arms moving in a smooth, controlled way. Avoid excessive flailing or big swings; instead, focus on keeping your elbows close to your body and using your arms to drive your legs. This will help you maintain good form and generate more power with each stride.
In fact, sprints are a good way to build up upper body strength in general, not just in the arms and shoulders. The chest and back muscles are also engaged during a sprint, so they’re getting a workout, too.
Sprinting regularly can help develop muscle mass in your back, shoulders, arms and chest. Speed training, which naturally involves sprinting, can not only help you become faster—it can improve your overall athletic performance. And as an added bonus, it can also help you build some upper-body strength.
Obviously, sprinting alone won’t give you the boulders-for-shoulders look of a bodybuilder—if that’s what you’re even after. It takes a lot of dedicated training to achieve that kind of muscle growth. But sprinting can help to add some muscle to your upper body, which can make you stronger and more powerful overall.
The Last Word
If you really want to build upper body strength, you’ll need to focus on specific exercises that target those muscles. But if you’re just looking for a way to add some extra speed and strength training to your routine, sprinting is an effective, full-body workout that can help you get stronger all over—including in your upper body.
So if you’re looking to specifically build upper-body strength, there are better exercises out there. But if you want to build some overall strength and power, sprinting can be a helpful addition to your training. Just make sure you focus on good form and technique, and don’t forget to add some other forms of training to your routine as well.