Unnecessary muscles?

Would working out muscles that are unnecessary for the development of speed have a negative impact? For example, your biceps, triceps, and forearm. People tell me that it’s bad because it will just increase your weight.

It’s bad because it will just increase your weight. :wink:

There is no need for biceps for running…you never see someone flex their pipes while running…besides, if you like to have nicely defined pipes, you will indirectly work them by doing other things that you normally have to do, ie., chin-ups, push-ups, bench, etc.

Standing biz curls with barbell (heavy) are one of the most cns taxing exercises to me. So maybe you might benefit from it in a different way than just being able to “use the muscles” when sprinting in a similar way like Charlie describes the benefit of bench pressing as cns training?

But generally further away bodyparts are from the center of your body, the more they might interfere with your sprint mechanics. (take Charlies example of big, heavy calves…)

My point exactly.

Your biceps and triceps mucles assist in flexion and extension at the shoulder joint, which is the primary arm movement in sprinting. Moreover, the triceps also plays a key role in holding up your body in the set position. These muscles do, therefore, have a role to play in this sport. I do agree, however, that general multi-joint upper body exercises should be sufficient to get them up to speed.


You are correct the triceps are important in the set position to maintain stability at the starting line; but as far as SHOULDER flexion & extension goes, the biceps do play a role in shoulder flexion, but a minor one, nevertheless, a role. They only act as synergists to the prime mover muscles in shoulder flexion, they are the Pectoralis Major & the anterior deltoid. In shoulder extension the chief extensor is the posterior deltoid, with the Teres Major being its synergist. The triceps don’t play a role here.

One of the main actions for the biceps brachii is to flex the forearm, but not the shoulder. I can see this being somewhat useful when the lower arm (forearm) & hand is at the level of the shoulder & face as the arm comes up, but again, I believe its a minor one.

The triceps mainly extend the forearm and since the arm should generally maintain a 90 degree angle, it plays a minor role.

The crossover effect netted by training the upper body is greater than the advantage of bodyweight reduction caused by training only the lower body.

But what if it’s during my weightlifting circuit, because i have REALLY weak upper body right now.

Curl 40lb with 1 hand
Bench 120
Tricep Curl with 1 hand only 20lb

and workiing on tricep is suppose to let u bench more, but ijust wanna get a stronger upper body right now

You probably are not very strong in the lower body either. If you can squat triple your bench I would be very surprised. Olympic lifters who do nothing but squat, pull, and jerk often have great bench press numbers as well solid upper body development.

“The triceps mainly extend the forearm and since the arm should generally maintain a 90 degree angle, it plays a minor role”

Dear Vito,

Try and extend your shoulder as far as you can without extending your elbow (like you do in sprinting). Then feel the triceps of the extended arm. It will be rock hard. This is because the long head of triceps, which inserts into the infraglenoid tubercle of the scapula, does play a role, although a quite minimal one, in shoulder extension. Alternatively, you can push your elbow down into the desk in front of you. Again you will feel your triceps contract.

Doing any kind of upper body pulling and pushing exercises will train your biceps and triceps muscles to a level of strength that should be sufficient for a spinter, however. Nevetheless, Maurice Greene, for example, does have biceps curls in his weight training program.


if you add mass to your arms, wouldn’t the increased mass enable a more powerful arm swing to help propel you forward/upward?

Functional mass would, but you’ll also have to carry that weight all the way to the end of the race.

It will not assist forward movements of the body as one arm swings backwards as the other swings forwards. Upward? Likely, as both arms move upwards (and downwards) in an unison movement. This could be beneficial during the support phase.

There is no question that added mass (without increase in stength) indeed can help. A standing long jump with dumbells can prove this.

In sprinting, however, it seems that added mass to the arms neither helps nor hinders you. Check this: http://www.elitetrack.com/ropret.pdf

Note that in this experiment dead mass is added without any corresponding increases in strength in the muscles that move this mass. It is tempting to believe that added mass together with increased strength could be beneficial.

Now, that would hurt :wink:

By the way, I think latissimus dorsi is the primary shoulder extensor assisted by posterior deltoid and triceps brachii. Teres major mainly adducts and medially rotates the humerus.

Hi Robin,

When I said “it doesnt play play a role here” with respect to tricep muscle in shoulder extension, in retrospect I agree it was the wrong choice of words; what I meant is that its role is negligible, nevertheless its still a role despite it being a minor one.

However, as I mentioned in previous post, I agree entirely that the tricep muscle is important as a function of stabilization when a sprinter is in the set position at the starting blocks and should be incorporated in an athletes training regimen.

I liked the way you used a visual example to further clarify your point. I will try one. Take the squat for example, we know that the contributing muscles are the quads, hams, etc however if you get up and do a squat right now, reach down as far low as you can and touch your calf muscle. You will see that the calf muscle is rock hard, if you will, meaning that although the muscle has been activated, its role in the squat is minor, just like the longhead of the tricep in shoulder extension. The calf muscles in the squat mainly act as stabilizers, again, it still plays a role…the question is, to what degree?

Point well taken. Cheers.

I dont think the lats are the primary, I believe its the post. deltoid, if you pick up an anatomy text that includes movement analysis, specifically sports related movements, it should state the post. deltoid as its primary.

Now, whether the lats play a role at all (in shoulder ext.), I would have to re-check that to be sure.

Although the arms are used in the arm drive, I do not think this movement is really powerful enough to need special arm training. Any program with some form of upper body push and pull should suffice

I believe workout efficiency and ‘unnecessary’ hypertrophy are more pertinent issues.

I Agree,and training the CNS via the upper body is important also.