Push workouts play an important role in strength building because they help you train in one of the basic movement patterns we perform in everyday life—that is, pushing. These exercises are crucial when it comes to building upper body strength, but can also get the lower body and core involved too.
Chances are you’re probably recycling some of the same old push exercises in your strength routine, like the overhead press or chest press. And while these are great exercises, it’s smart to switch it up. Enter this dumbbell push workout from Noam Tamir, C.S.C.S., CEO and owner of TS Fitness in New York City.
The Benefits of a Push Workout for Runners
Sprinkling push exercises into your regular workouts is a great way to build strength. But by dedicating a full session to push exercises, you can hone strength in that movement pattern even quicker. And by focusing on this push workout, in particular, which incorporates compound exercises, you not only target the upper body, including the shoulders, arms, and chest, but also the legs and core. All of this pays off in more efficient running.
“The seesaw chest press and the half kneeling seesaw press are reciprocating motions, which mimic how you use your arms during a run. They help to strengthen the pecs [chest muscles], shoulders, and triceps for the arm cycle of running,” Tamir tells Runner’s World. These exercises also require core engagement.
The single-arm incline chest press listed here will also challenge you to focus on building strength one arm at a time to help offset imbalances while turning up the burn in your core, he says.
What’s more, the squat to press and the bear crawl with dumbbell push are both challenging total-body exercises that will train multiple running muscles at a one time and help make you more efficient on the road. The squat to press movement is also more of an explosive moment that helps with speed work, while the bear crawl variation will help improve endurance and core stability, Tamir explains.
How to use this list: Perform the exercises in the order listed below, for the number of repetitions described. Rest for 30 seconds in between each exercise. Complete three sets, resting for 30 to 90 seconds between each set.
Each move is demonstrated by Tamir in the video above so you can mimic proper form. You will need a medium to heavy set of dumbbells and an incline chair or bench. An exercise mat is optional.
1. Squat to Overhead Press
Start standing with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand, elbows bent so weights are racked at shoulders. Send hips down and back, bending knees to lower down into a squat. Press through feet to stand back up. As you stand, press the weights up overhead, biceps by ears. Slowly lower weights back down to shoulders. Repeat. Do 8 reps.
2. Seesaw Chest Press
Lie faceup on the floor or on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand, both hands about shoulder-width apart, elbows straight and palms facing away from you, weight over chest. Bent knees and place feet flat on the floor. With control, bend right elbow about 45 degrees away from torso, lowering the weight toward chest. Pause, then press right weight back up, while simultaneously bending left elbow and lowering weight toward chest. Continue alternating, lowering one weight as you press the other weight back up. Do 12 reps on each side.
3. Bear Crawl With Dumbbell Push
Start on all fours, shoulders over wrists and knees right under hips. Place one dumbbell by left hand. Keeping back flat, use core to lift knees off the ground a few inches. Push the dumbbell forward with left hand as far as you can. Then step with right hand and left foot. Then step with left hand and right foot. Alternate until you reach the dumbbell. Then push it forward with right hand. Do 10 pushes on each side, crawling to reach the dumbbell each time.
4. Half-Kneeling Seesaw Overhead Press
Start kneeling with left foot forward, both knees bent 90 degrees. Hold weights racked at shoulders, elbows bent, palms facing each other. Press left arm straight up with biceps by ears, palm facing out. Then, bring left arm back down to shoulder while simultaneously pressing right arm straight up, palm facing out. Continue alternating, lowering one weight as you press the other weight up. Do 12 reps on each side.
5. Single-Arm Incline Chest Press
Sit on an incline bench with entire back supported, and feet planted on the floor. Hold weight in left hand, arm straight, weight in line with shoulder and palm facing away from you. With control bend left elbow about 45 degrees away from torso to lower weight down toward chest. Pause, then press back up. Repeat. Then switch sides. Do 12 reps on each side.
Monique LeBrun joined the editorial staff in October 2021 as the associate health and fitness editor. She has a master’s degree in journalism and has previously worked for ABC news and Scholastic. She is an avid runner who loves spending time outside.