Many people highlight weightlifting and resistance training as the go-to methods for gaining muscle. Running is often overlooked as an effective muscle-building exercise, but it can help you hit your bodybuilding goals.
Running is an excellent cardiovascular exercise that engages multiple muscle groups. In this piece, we will explain how running helps you build muscle mass in five different ways.
- 5 Ways Running Can Help You Build Muscle Faster
- 1. Increased Appetite
- 2. Elevated Growth Hormone Levels
- 3. Lower Body Strength and Power
- 4. Improved Muscle Endurance
- 5. Enhanced Recovery and Reduced Muscle Soreness
- Different Types of Running Workouts To Build Muscle
- 1. Sprints
- 2. Hill Run
- 3. Tempo Runs
- 4. Interval Workouts
- 5. Weighted runs
- Avoid Mistakes To Gain Muscle While Running
- 1. Neglecting strength training
- 2. Overtraining
- 3. Inadequate nutrition
- 4. Lack of variety
- 5. Poor form and technique
- Can you build muscle just by running?
- What muscle does running build the most?
- Can running replace gym?
5 Ways Running Can Help You Build Muscle Faster
We will look at five ways that running can help you build muscle faster than you might think. So, lace up your running shoes and get ready to take your fitness goals to the next level with these muscle-building strategies.
1. Increased Appetite
Maintaining calorie surplus is a crucial aspect of building muscle, which means your calorie intake needs to be higher than the number of calories you burn. In that sense, running might appear counter-productive, since it accelerates calorie burn rate. But, it also drives up your hunger, which allows you to take in more nutrients. This heightened calorie burn and consumption rate contributes to muscle growth.
Why does running stimulate your appetite? It’s your body’s response to the hormones that get released into your system as you run. When you run your body craves more fuel.
To meet that need, you must eat more. So, a well-planned diet, in co-ordinance with your running routine, can help you achieve significant muscle gains.
2. Elevated Growth Hormone Levels
Incorporating running into your exercise regimen, especially high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and sprinting, can elicit the release of growth hormone (GH). Growth hormone is important for the growth and repair of muscles and tissue.
Study as shown that If you add running to your workouts, your body will make more GH. This hormonal reaction offers remarkable advantages, particularly in augmenting lean muscle mass and enhancing your overall physical composition.
Engaging in intense running activities subjects the body to metabolic strain, leading to significant hormonal adaptations. The secretion of growth hormone during and after running plays a crucial role in activating protein synthesis and facilitating the repair of muscle fibers.
3. Lower Body Strength and Power
Running primarily affects the muscles in your lower extremities, which encompass the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and glutes. Regular running sessions can yield notable improvements in lower body strength and power, which in turn can foster muscle development.
Running uphill makes your lower body muscles work harder, making them stronger and working more muscle fibers. To further stimulate muscle growth in the lower body, it is recommended to incorporate hill sprints or incline training into your running routine.
During a running session, your leg muscles diligently engage in the continuous task of propelling your body forward. This repetitive motion of contracting and extending the lower body muscles progressively enhances their strength and power.
As your leg muscles get stronger, you’ll notice a boost in your running skills, making it easier to cover more distances or hit faster times.
Moreover, the presence of well-developed leg muscles provides a stable foundation for executing compound exercises such as squats and deadlifts, which, in turn, foster muscle growth in other regions of the body.
4. Improved Muscle Endurance
Both running and weightlifting rely on muscle endurance, which refers to the ability of your muscles to repeatedly contract over a prolonged duration. Running, especially in the lower body, not only boosts cardiovascular endurance but also enhances muscle endurance through the repetitive movements involved.
Your muscles’ ability to optimize oxygen and energy utilization gradually increases through regular running. This positive change in running mechanics directly translates to heightened muscle endurance, enabling you to comfortably run greater distances or sustain a steady pace for extended durations.1
The improved muscle endurance you develop through running directly impacts your weightlifting sessions. With enhanced endurance, you’ll notice that you can perform more repetitions and sets with less fatigue. Your muscles will be better equipped to withstand the demands of weightlifting exercises, allowing you to tackle challenging sets and increase your overall training volume. This superior muscle endurance ultimately plays a crucial role in facilitating greater muscle gain over time.
5. Enhanced Recovery and Reduced Muscle Soreness
Proper recovery is crucial for muscle growth and injury prevention. Running plays a role in aiding recovery by enhancing blood flow and facilitating the delivery of nutrients to the muscles. This improved circulation assists in the removal of metabolic waste products, including lactic acid, which can cause muscle soreness. Moreover, running helps reduce inflammation and promote muscle repair, thereby alleviating post-workout muscle soreness.
Running can help you recover faster, so you can lift weights more often and work harder. This will make your muscles grow a lot over time.
Running promotes blood flow, delivering oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. This heightened circulation aids in removing metabolic waste products produced during intense weightlifting, resulting in reduced muscle soreness and quicker recovery. Running also triggers the release of endorphins, which act as natural painkillers and mood boosters. This additional effect can further alleviate muscle soreness while providing a surge of energy and motivation for future workouts.
Different Types of Running Workouts To Build Muscle
While running is commonly associated with cardiovascular endurance, it may come as a surprise that it can also be a valuable tool for muscle building, particularly in the lower body.
There are different types of running workouts that can help you build muscle.
Sprints are a good way to build muscle because they involve running for short periods of time at a high speed. This type of training forces your muscles to work harder, which can result in muscle growth.
2. Hill Run
When you run uphill, your muscles have to work harder to move your weight against gravity. This can help you build strength and power in your lower body.
3. Tempo Runs
Tempo runs are done at a pace that is slightly faster than your easy pace, but not as fast as your sprinting pace. This type of training can help you improve your lactate threshold, which is the point at which your body begins to produce lactic acid.
4. Interval Workouts
Interval workouts involve running hard for a short amount of time and then resting for a while. This type of training can help you improve your speed, running economy, and muscle endurance.
5. Weighted runs
Weighted runs are a highly effective means of incorporating resistance into your running workouts and aiding in the development of muscle. You can do it with weighted vests, ankle weights, or even dumbbells on your run.
If you’re new to running, it’s best to start slowly and gradually increase the difficulty and length of your workouts. As you get stronger, you can start to do harder workouts.
Avoid Mistakes To Gain Muscle While Running
While running can be an effective tool for muscle gain, it’s important to avoid common mistakes that may hinder your progress. Some mistakes you should avoid are:
1. Neglecting strength training
Running alone is not enough to build and maintain muscle mass. Strength training is essential for muscle development, so make sure to incorporate it into your routine.
Running too frequently or for long durations without allowing adequate recovery can lead to overtraining and hinder muscle gain. Take care of your body and make sure you get enough sleep and rest to recover.
3. Inadequate nutrition
Proper nutrition is crucial for muscle growth and recovery. Make sure you’re consuming enough protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, and staying hydrated to support optimal muscle gain.
4. Lack of variety
Running the same distance and pace every time can lead to a plateau in muscle gain. Use different types of running workouts, like interval training and hill sprints, to make your muscles work harder and make them bigger.
5. Poor form and technique
Running with improper form and technique can lead to injuries and hinder your progress. Focus on maintaining good posture, engaging your
Can you build muscle just by running?
While running alone may not be sufficient to build significant muscle mass, it can contribute to muscle development, especially in the lower body. Running engages various muscles and can lead to improvements in muscle strength, power, and endurance. However, it is recommended that you combine running with strength training exercises that specifically target muscle growth.
What muscle does running build the most?
Running primarily builds and strengthens the muscles in your lower body. The main muscle groups affected by running include the quadriceps (front of the thighs), hamstrings (back of the thighs), calves, and glutes (buttocks).
Additionally, running can also contribute to overall muscle development in the legs, including the muscles of the hips and shins.
Can running replace gym?
Running can provide numerous benefits for cardiovascular health, endurance, and overall fitness. It’s a great workout, but it’s not a substitute for a regular gym session. The gym offers a diverse range of equipment that targets various muscle groups and provides resistance, which is crucial for building and toning muscles.
Weightlifting is a popular way to build muscle, but it’s worth noting that running can also help build muscle and strength. When accompanied by proper nutrition and resistance training, running offers several factors that promote notable muscle development. These include a higher appetite, higher levels of growth hormone, more strength and power in the lower body, better muscle endurance, and faster recovery.
Combining your cardio workout with your weight-training regimen lets you take advantage of the advantages of both sports to build muscle.
Remember to have fun, keep moving, and keep lifting weights.
Manish brings over 10 years of hands-on experience in weight lifting and fat loss to fitness coaching. He specializes in gym-based training and has a lot of knowledge about exercise, lifting technique, biomechanics, and more.
Through “Fit Life Regime,” he generously shares the insights he’s gained over a decade in the field. His goal is to equip others with the knowledge to start their own fitness journey.