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Do Sprinters Work Out Their Upper Bodies?

author image Jeff Gordon
Jeff Gordon has been reporting and writing since 1977. His most recent work has appeared on websites such as eHow, GolfLink, Ask Men, Open Sports, Fox Sports and MSN. He has previously written for publications such as "The Sporting News" and "The Hockey News." He graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism in 1979 with a bachelor's degree.
Do Sprinters Work Out Their Upper Bodies?
Sprinters use upper body strength to maximize their speed. Photo Credit: Melinda Nagy/iStock/Getty Images

Elite sprinters gain considerable speed and power by pumping their arms. Strong upper body and core muscles can help the legs do their job. While excess muscular bulk is detrimental to sprinters, weight training and plyometric exercises have become more popular among top performers. Sprinters at major college programs spend a lot of time in the weight room conditioning their whole body.

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Arms and the Sprint

Sprinters use powerful arm drives to help propel them out of the blocks and start in the desired low posture. As they reach full speed, their arms and legs work in concert to sustain the proper rhythm. A powerful arm drive can help sprinters maintain their proper stride as fatigue sets in. Lactic acid builds in the arms as it does in the legs, which is why sprinters must condition their arms for racing.

Core Muscles and the Sprinter

Sprinters must build core muscle strength so they can transfer all their upper body power through their legs down to the track. Those muscles also stabilize runners and prevent inefficient side-to-side movement as they fatigue late in the race.

Arm and Shoulder Lifts

If you want your nerves to "fire" quickly during a sprint do the two Olympic lifts which enhance your flexibility, speed and coordination; the clean and jerk and the snatch. Compliment those lifts with static lifts such as the bench press and shoulder press to work your shoulders. To develop your elastic or explosive upper strength, perform drills with a medicine ball.

Core Muscle Work

Crunches, weighted decline board situps, and hanging knee-ups and leg raises to work the abdominal muscles. You can also use seated calf raises and various exercises on the Ab/Ad machine to work your core muscles.

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