Let’s be honest, no one really works on their tricep strength – that’s why chair dips feel so horribly hard. But working on pushing movements (like press-ups, bench presses and, yes, chair dips) is great for improving your upper-body strength. And before you say, ‘but why do runners need upper-body strength anyway? Isn’t running just about your legs?’ – let us remind you that having a strong upper body can benefit your running...

Why? When you start to tire mid-run, it’s usually your upper-body posture that’s the first thing to go. You begin to slouch – which then restricts your breathing – and poor posture quickly leads to poor running form. If the muscles in your back and shoulders are strong, however, you'll be able to hold a stronger, more upright running posture. Having strong shoulders and arms will also help you to adopt a more powerful arm swing, which again will improve your running form.

What are chair dips?

‘The chair dip is an isolation exercise for the triceps, the muscles at the back of the arms, and it also works the muscles that stabilise the shoulders,’ explains Graeme Woodward, a UK Athletics Level 3 performance coach, UKSCA accredited S&C coach and We Run coach for West Yorkshire.

‘It is a general upper body strengthening exercise that should be done in conjunction with others to give an all-around conditioning effect. The chair dip can put the shoulders in an awkward position so should be treated with caution if a runner has a history of shoulder or neck issues.’

How to do chair dips

chair dip

  1. Sit on the edge of a bench or chair, hands supporting your weight.
  2. Position your feet away from the bench, legs straight and heels on the floor.
  3. Lower yourself until your upper arms are parallel to the ground, then push back up.

    Sets/reps: Two sets of 10-15 reps

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