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Think You Can Handle Tatyana McFadden’s Killer Upper Body Workout?

Runner’s World logo Runner’s World 7/3/2020 Danielle Zickl
Tatyana McFadden riding on the back of a bicycle: Tatyana McFadden shares some of the arm exercises she does on Instagram, so that you can maintain your fitness even if can’t train for any races right now. © Sarah Stier - Getty Images Tatyana McFadden shares some of the arm exercises she does on Instagram, so that you can maintain your fitness even if can’t train for any races right now.

A strong upper body makes improves your ability to log faster, more efficient miles for any runner—but especially for a wheelchair racer. Just ask Tatyana McFadden. The 17-time Paralympic medalist and 23-time major marathon winner has a solid strength training routine that has contributed to her unparalleled success.

In 2013, McFadden became the first person to win four World Major Marathons in the same year—an achievement she repeated in 2014, 2015, and 2016. She also has the most victories at the New York City Marathon—with five wins—and still holds the course record with a time of 1:43:04, which she set in 2015.

In January, McFadden moved to Florida for outdoor training to prep for the Tokyo Olympics and get used to the heat. But because the Olympics were postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, McFadden told Runner’s World she’s been taking the time she would’ve been using to train for the Games to instead focus on her overall health and wellness. Part of that is focusing on proper sleep and nutrition, and the other part is focusing on fitness.

In addition to logging around 100 miles per week, McFadden strength trains twice a week.

“Before everything shut down [due to coronavirus], I went to buy all this equipment: a kettlebell, bands, a roller, a mat, and a medicine ball,” she said. “I can do a lot with them and keep up with back and shoulder work—everything is upper back, shoulders, triceps, and biceps in wheelchair racing. It’s about doing maintenance and keeping it up. I’m making it work. ”

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McFadden has been sharing some of the exercises she does on Instagram, so that you, too, can maintain your fitness even if can’t train for any races right now. Watch the four Instagram videos below to see McFadden demonstrate each move.

1. Pull-Up

Sometimes I feel like a monkey 🙈😊

A post shared by TatyanaMcFadden (@tatyanamcfaddenusa) on Jun 17, 2020 at 8:37am PDT

Stand under a chin-up bar and reach your arms overhead with your palms facing away from you. Reach, jump, or lift your body off the floor to grasp the handle with an overhand grip. Engaging your lats, slowly pull your body upward by bending your elbows until your chin is level with the bar or your hands. Pause for a moment, then slowly return to your starting position. Repeat.

2. Push-Up

Start in a high plank position and place your hands shoulder-width apart or slightly wider with shoulders stacked directly over wrists. Spread your fingers wide; fingertips should point straight ahead. Engage your core and glutes to keep hips level; your body should form a straight line from head to heels. Be sure to draw your shoulder blades back and down so your shoulders aren’t curled forward. Bend elbows to lower your chest to the floor. Your elbows form a 45-degree angle with your body. Keeping your core engaged and hips in line with the rest of your body, and push back up to the starting position. Repeat.

3. Triceps Dip

When you use your wheelchair as a prop to hold you legs...thanks wheelchair 🦽 😁

A post shared by TatyanaMcFadden (@tatyanamcfaddenusa) on Apr 30, 2020 at 1:07pm PDT

Grip handles (or the front edges of a chair or bench) with your hands. Keep your feet together and your knees slightly bent while you lower your hips toward the floor by bending the elbows until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Push back up using your arms. Repeat.

4. Seated Row

In a seated position with a straight back, hold the handles of the bands, and lift the chest while slowly pulling the elbows backwards close to the rib cage until the handles touch the front of the stomach. Pause for a moment before slowly straightening the arms to return to starting position. Repeat.

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