Does Pumping Your Arms Faster Make You Run Faster?

Does Pumping Your Arms Faster Make You Run Faster?

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A sprinter pumps his arms to run faster.

Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images

The natural body movement when walking or running is to swing the opposite arm as you step. This keeps your body balanced and allows you to move in a straight line. Because your arms counter your legs, pumping your arms faster will cause you to run faster. This technique is commonly used by sprinters rather than distance runners. Because sprinters run shorter distances, they use longer strides and generally don't need to pace themselves. There are a few techniques that will allow you to pump your arms faster.

Proper Arm Mechanics

Running with proper form will significantly increase your speed. It's important for your arms to have a full range of motion while sprinting. Being passive with your arm action will limit your speed potential. Allow your front hand to come up to your cheek and your back hand to pass your hip. All of your power should be initiated through your shoulders. Your front elbow should be bent at 60 to 90 degrees. Your back elbow should be bent at 90 to 120 degrees. Avoid lateral deviation by keeping your arm motion in a straight line, and do not cross the center of your body with your arms.

Stay Relaxed

It's extremely important to stay relaxed when running. Don't clench your fists, as this causes you to exert more energy and causes your forearms, biceps, shoulders and face to tighten as well. Running with a tight upper body will lead to slower, shorter strides.

Arm Strength

Sprinters often use resistance training to increase their strength, power and endurance. Training your upper body by doing exercises such as pullups and pushups will allow your arms to pump faster. Perform resistance training two to three times per week to increase your strength and power.

Arm Action Drill

This drill helps you practice proper sprinting arm mechanics. It also helps build strength, power and endurance. Perform it during practice after your warm-up and before your workout. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Pump your arms as if you were sprinting, but keep your legs stationary. Perform three sets of this drill for 20 seconds each. Focus on proper arm mechanics the whole time. Remember to stay relaxed.

Speed It Up

Speed isn't all about running technique and arm movements -- and there are other ways to increase your speed. Hit the gym for incline running workouts, sprints and box jumps -- all exercises that strengthen your glutes, the muscle that help propel you forward with each stride. Jump squats, lunges and leg lifts also tone up your glutes, and help you speed up your runs.


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