It’s important for runners to follow a well-rounded strength routine. Having strong glutes and legs is key to powering your miles, but if you don’t have a solid core to stabilize them and a strong upper body—this includes your chest—to help perfect your form, you’re missing out on your max potential, explains Lindsey Clayton, senior instructor at Barry’s Bootcamp and cofounder of the Brave Body Project.
Clayton created this at-home chest workout you can add to your routine. While there are a few ways you can add chest days into your schedule, Clayton suggests doing lower body twice a week and upper body—one chest day—and core on the alternating days. For example:
- Day 1: biceps, triceps, shoulders, and core
- Day 2: lower body
- Day 3: chest, back, and core
- Day 4: lower body
[Looking to start cross training but don’t know where to start? The Beginner’s Guide to Strength Training will teach you all the fundamentals to get the most out of your weight session, priming you for stronger miles in the saddle.]
How to do it: Perform each move below for 1 minute, resting for 20 seconds between each exercise. Repeat the circuit 2 times. You’ll need a mat and two dumbbells (if you don’t have access to dumbbells, these moves can all be done with improvised weights). Each exercise is demonstrated by Clayton so you can learn proper form.
Walk Out Push-Up
Start standing with feet hip-width apart. Hinge at hips to lower hands to ground and walk them out in front of you to a high plank position. When you arrive at plank position, bend elbows to lower your chest to the floor. Your elbows should form a 45-degree angle with your body. Keeping your core engaged and hips in line with the rest of your body, exhale, and push back up to the starting position. Walk hands back to feet to return to starting position. Repeat.
Hip Opener to Push-Up
Start in high plank position with feet hip-width apart, shoulders over wrists. Step your right foot forward, planting it on the outside of your right hand. Bend right knee to come into a low lunge and rotate torso to the right as you extend right arm up toward ceiling. Bring right arm back down to frame right leg, and return to starting position. When you arrive in high plank position, bend elbows to lower your chest to the floor to complete a push-up. Exhale, and push back up to the starting position. Repeat by completing hip opener on the left side followed by a push-up. Continue alternating.
To make it harder: Add a downward dog after the push-up. From high plank, align wrists under shoulders. Engage your core and lift hips up and back to come into an inverted V. Return to plank position, then continue into hip opener.
Alternating Chest Press
Grab two weights and lie faceup on a mat. Plant feet and raise glutes off the ground in bridge position, keeping core engaged and shoulders planted. With palms facing toes, press the weights straight up over your chest. Bend left elbow to lower weight to chest, then straighten arm to press it up to return to starting position. Repeat on right side. Continue alternating.
To make it easier: Remove the hip bridge and simply lie faceup.
Tempo Chest Press
Grab two weights and lie faceup on a mat. With palms facing toes, press the weights straight up over your chest. Bend elbows to lower weights to chest slowly for 3 counts on the way down, pause for 1 count, then, quickly push weights back up to starting position. Repeat.
Chest to Floor Push-Up
Start in high plank position, bend elbows to lower your chest to the floor. Your elbows should form a 45-degree angle with your body. When your chest reaches the ground, fully extend arms in front of you, palms down. Hold for 2 seconds. Bring hands back to the floor directly under your shoulders. Then, keeping your core engaged and hips in line with the rest of your body, exhale, and push back up to the starting position. Repeat.
Start standing with your arms at your sides. Squat down, placing hands on floor, shoulder-width apart. Jump legs back into high plank position as you drop chest and hips to floor at the same time. To modify as shown, push back up to knees, then jump legs back in toward hands in a deep squat position. Extend legs and jump, raising arms overhead. Repeat.
To make it harder, press back up without going to your knees as you jump your feet back into a deep squat and jump (or stand) right back up, landing on the balls of your feet.
Neutral Grip Floor Press
Lie faceup on a mat with a weight in each hand. With hands in a neutral grip (palms facing in), press dumbbells up directly over your chest. On the inhale, bend elbows to lower weights to chest. On the exhale, press the weights straight up over chest to return to starting position. Repeat.
Grab two weights and lie faceup on a mat. Place hands in a neutral grip (palms facing in) and press weights above chest. Slowly open the arms out to each side, keeping a slight bend in the elbows. Once wrists are in line with the chest return to the starting position. Repeat.