Dear Coach Jay,
Should I weight lift to work my upper body and be more toned? If so what workouts? Or are the general strength work outs enough?
Thanks for the question – I think the first thing you have to answer is “what is my goal with lifting?” If by toned you simply mean that you don’t want to add any mass, but want to be leaner, that is a different goal than wanting to add upper body mass. Because you’re a runner I’m going to assume that you don’t want to add any upper body mass as that extra mass does you no good as a distance runner. I would definitely start with the general strength exercises we have posted on this site. They’re simple, straightforward, and they work. However, after a few months of general strength exercises, you will be ready to move to the weight room. At that point I think it’s important that you work with a coach or personal trainer, and explain to them that you simply want to stay lean so that you can run fast.
How do you know if they’re assigning intelligent workouts? The latest research shows that low rep, high weight (or high resistance) work DOES NOT lead to muscle hypertrophy. Muscle hypertrophy is just the technical name for muscles getting bigger…which is what we don’t want to have happen. So, you might be throwing medicine balls, or doing short sets on the incline bench, or doing “burn sets” of pull-ups with varying hand positions. These workouts should be short and intense. You don’t need to be in there for an hour to get a solid (and extremely challenging) upper body workout. So, be wary of the coach or personal trainer who is accustomed to working with people who want to gain mass as much of our weight room knowledge in North America is a distillation of football weight room workouts.
Good luck Cesar and I wish you the best in your training.
*Coach Jay’s advice is provided as general training information. Use at your own risk. Always consult with your own heath care provider for questions relating to your specific training and nutrition.
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