Best Upper Body Strength Exercises for Athletes

Best Upper Body Strength Exercises for Athletes

Your major focus while training as a runner or a cyclist should be directed towards developing the strength and durability of the legs. Your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves must be the major movers that drive your body through training and racing, and having a more muscular upper body will only add to your physical strength. Let’s discuss why and then look at some exercises that can provide the foundation of your resistance work above the waist. 

1. Upper Body Strengthening

As much as it may seem almost impossible to fit upper body training within your busy timetable, studies show that you only require two or three sessions within the week to enhance your movement capacity and enough musculoskeletal adaptations that will help you become a better athlete. 

Muscular endurance, strength, and speed are integral factors that are usually developed to enhance the performance of sportsmen or women. Another research work analyzed the impact of resistance training on a group of cross-country skiers. They also increased the number of sets of upper body strength exercises and intervals twice a week for six weeks, they gained muscular endurance and simulated skiing performance. 

What was even more surprising is that skiers’ VO2max did not suffer as a result of reducing the given interval training by 50% and replacing it with upper body strengthening exercises, which means that contrary to most beliefs, resistance work does have a positive impact on the endurance levels at least.

2. Pull-Ups 

The pull-up is one of the most effective upper body exercises and it works out major muscles such as the lats, pectorals, deltoids, biceps, triceps, and the abdominal muscles. In case of difficulty in doing unassisted pull-ups, one should do partial reps, with the assistance of a training partner, or bands. 

You should add lat pull-downs as a workout routine. To do a pull-up, hold a bar with your palms facing down, retract your shoulder blades, and pull yourself up until your head is at the level of the bar before slowly lowering yourself down. For beginners, it is recommended to have three series of ten while for more experienced people it is four to five series of five. 

 3. Kettlebell Single-Arm Shoulder Press 

The kettlebell single-arm shoulder press has proper biomechanics concerning the shoulder, elbow, and wrist and also requires the core muscles for stability. Starting position feet shoulder width apart, grasp the handle of the kettlebell and position it at the collar bone; press it up until it is in line with the ear and shoulder. Slowly bring the weight back down to the starting position. For lesser weights, you can do 3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions; for more weights, it is advisable to do 5 sets of 5 repetitions. For more details read Best Top 6 Exercises of Strength Training for Athletes.

4. Push-Ups 

Sit-ups belong to a basic type of exercises which help strengthen the muscles of the chest, triceps, back, shoulders, abs and legs as well as the push-ups. Start with your face down on the bench your hands placed halfway up your rib cage and your feet shoulder-width apart. Engage your buttocks and stomach muscles as you lift your body, with your hands by your sides. Bend your knees while keeping your abdomen tight and your back straight, do not lose posture and remain as stiff as possible. Use 7 to 15 reps and do 3 to 5 sets. 


Upper body strength exercises have to form part of athletes training to enhance their performance in the games. The specific types of activities include pull-ups, kettlebell single-arm shoulder presses, push-ups, and bent-over rows that target the muscles and the corresponding groups of the body to create muscular endurance. If an athlete trains the upper body not more than two or three times a week, he or she is likely to record a lot of improvements in as much as strength and conditioning are concerned and the body prepared for the demands of her or his sport.