We all know that running is a great way to keep fit. It’s one of the easiest and most inexpensive methods that humans have had for as long as we can remember.
All that is required to run is footwear and the great outdoors. Running raises your heart rate, it gets you out in nature, it gets you taking deep breaths!
The benefits of running are numerous, but what about the muscle-building benefits?
So you’re a person who cares about building muscle! Perhaps you’re trying to build functional strength and want to retain your muscle density, or perhaps you want to have a bit more muscle on your frame and are wondering what the best ways are to do so.
Whatever your reasons, you’ve come here to find out if you can gain muscle from running!
There are many misconceptions around this issue, and it can be difficult to find the truth. If you find yourself in this position – you’ve come to the right place!
Below is a comprehensive guide to the question. We’re going to take you through everything you’ll need to know, including what to expect when you add running into your fitness routine!
We’ve also added a short FAQ section at the end of this article to give you some extra knowledge on this issue.
Gaining Muscle From Running
Let’s answer the initial question first of all. The truth is that it’s not so simple as ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ There are two main factors that determine whether you will see any gains in muscle mass:
1) How much time you spend training (and how hard you train).
2) Your diet.
If you don’t put enough time into your exercise program, then there won’t be any gains in muscle size.
This is because the body doesn’t have time to grow new muscle tissue. However, if you’re putting in the hours, you should start seeing results.
The second factor is nutrition. If you’re eating too little protein, then you won’t be able to build muscle.
If you’re eating plenty of carbs though, then you may lose weight, which could lead to an increase in fat stores.
Running is a great way to burn fat because you are burning calories throughout the day.
But if you’re looking to build muscle, then you need to make sure that you eat sufficient amounts of protein every single day. Protein is essential for muscle growth.
When you combine these two things, you get the following equation:
Muscle Time x Nutrition
This means that the amount of muscle you gain depends on both how much time you spend exercising, and how well you feed your muscles.
So, if you’re spending lots of time working out, but aren’t consuming enough protein, then you won’t see any gains in muscle size!
However, if you’re spending less time working out, but are consuming adequate amounts of protein, then you’ll see significant increases in muscle mass.
The truth is – you’re not likely to get some kind of bodybuilder physique from running, but it is likely you’ll gain muscle in your legs and core.
One study found that runners had increased levels of slow-twitch fibers (which help with endurance), compared to non-runners.
What Muscles Does Running Build?
So, we know that running builds muscle, but exactly which muscles does it build? Well, it seems like most people think that running helps them build leg muscles.
After all, it’s common knowledge that running builds up the quadriceps and glutes. And while this is true, it’s only part of the story.
In reality, running builds muscle across the entire body. It’s just that certain areas tend to be worked harder than others.
For example, if you run regularly, you’ll notice that you develop larger calves and thighs. These are the prime movers of the lower body.
They’re responsible for lifting your foot off the ground during each step.
But if you look closely, you’ll also notice that your upper body has developed quite nicely too. You’ve probably noticed that when you do push-ups, you can lift more weight than before.
This is because your biceps have grown stronger. This is because they work alongside your triceps to raise your arm upwards.
What To Expect When Adding Running Into Your Fitness Routine
Now we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty. What exactly does adding running to your fitness regime mean? Well, you’re probably already familiar with the basic principles behind cardio workouts.
They involve increasing your heart rate, and therefore burning more calories than normal.
To achieve this effect, you’ll typically run faster, or do longer intervals, than you normally would.
For example, if you normally walk for 30 minutes, then you’d aim to complete a 10-minute interval workout instead.
You’re doing this to burn off excess energy, and to ensure that you stay fit. But what happens when you add running into the mix? Do you notice any changes in your body?
Well, here’s where it gets interesting. One thing that you’ll notice is that you’ll feel tired after completing a long run.
And this is because your body will have been working hard all day, and now it needs to recover.
If you’ve never done anything like this before, then you might find yourself feeling exhausted and worn out. This is perfectly natural and is part of the process of building new habits.
Another thing that you’ll notice though, is that you’ll start to sweat profusely. This is because your body has been working hard all day. As such, it’s going to release a lot of water through your skin.
As a result, you’ll end up feeling extremely hot, and you’ll also feel thirsty. This is because your blood volume has increased, and as such, there’s more fluid being pumped around your body.
It’s important to remember though, that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, sweating is an essential part of our bodies’ cooling system.
It’s just that if you want to experience these benefits, then you need to be prepared for them. If you don’t drink enough fluids during exercise, then you could end up dehydrated.
And this can lead to problems such as cramps and fatigue. If you’re planning to run regularly, then you should make sure that you consume at least half your weight in ounces of water each day.
Of course, you may also wish to consider drinking sports drinks. These contain electrolytes that help to replenish those lost by sweating.
But, if you’re serious about improving your fitness, then you should also focus on other areas of your life. For instance, you’ll want to eat well and reduce stress levels.
So there we have it! Running can be a great way to build up muscle tone in a few areas of your body, including your legs and core. It can also help you lose weight, and improve your overall health.
We hope that this guide has helped you to understand how running can be a great addition to your fitness routine – but if you still have some questions, check below for our short FAQ guide.
Frequently Asked Questions
Get your last-minute running questions answered below!
How Can I Get Started With Running?
There are many ways that you can get started with running. The most obvious one is to join a local running club. However, if you live in a rural area, then you might not have access to a club.
Alternatively, you could try joining a gym. Many gyms offer free classes and sessions, so you shouldn’t have to pay for any training.
If you prefer to train outside, then you could use online resources such as RunKeeper.com. Here, you can track your progress over time, and set goals for yourself.
Is Running Safe?
Yes, running is safe. Of course, you always need to take care when exercising. But, you should only do what you know you can handle safely. In terms of injury risk, running is safer than cycling or swimming.
In fact, according to research from the British Journal of Sports Medicine, runners who complete at least 30 minutes of continuous running per week are less likely to suffer injuries than cyclists or swimmers.
However, you should still wear proper footwear, and ensure that you follow best practice guidelines.
When choosing shoes, you should look for ones that provide support and cushioning. They should also fit comfortably, and allow you to move freely.
You should also choose a shoe based on your foot type. For example, if you have flat feet, then you should opt for a neutral shoe. This will give you more stability and better shock absorption.
On the other hand, if you have high arches, then you should go for a cushioned shoe. This will help to absorb impact and prevent blisters.