How to Tone With Running

Running to tone your body is very possible if you change your routine often. Training over the same neighborhood path or using the same program on your treadmill enables your muscles to adapt. When muscles adapt and are no longer challenged, they do not grow, appearing stagnant. The intensity or speed at which you conduct your running sessions greatly impacts your muscle tone. Comparing a sprinter to a marathon runner, you can see how well-muscled and toned the sprinter is versus the long-distance runner.

Run on soft sand at the beach to tone your muscles. (Image: Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images)

Step 1

Perform your longest distance run on the first training day of the week. (Image: matthewennisphotography/iStock/Getty Images)

Perform your longest nonstop run for your first training day of the week, such as on a Monday. Your legs should be well rested and prepared to contract for a long duration such as a 45-minute, light to moderate paced run. Incorporate a few hills, completing this routine one day per week to slightly tone your leg muscles; more importantly, it enhances your cardiovascular system so that you can perform the more difficult training that will maximally tone your muscles.

Step 2

Incorporate hills into your run. (Image: JeanValley/iStock/Getty Images)

Complete your most difficult nonstop run as your second workout of the week, such as on a Wednesday; this routine should last about 20 to 30 minutes, but it must be more intense than your longest run. Select a very hilly path that you can run for 20 minutes. Run up the hill fast using long strides, then coast down the hill or on the flat terrain at your steady pace. Gradually increase your duration until you reach 30 minutes for this type of routine.

Step 3

Perform high-intensity interval runs. (Image: Chatabox/iStock/Getty Images)

Perform a high-intensity interval run as your last workout of the week such as on a Friday, alternating between periods of all-out sprinting and periods of walking. Interval sprinting forces your upper and lower body muscles to rapidly and forcefully contract, toning your body. Maintain the contraction of your core muscles to stabilize your trunk as you sprint, toning your midsection. Sprint for 30 seconds and then walk for 90 seconds, totaling 20 minutes.

Step 4

Alterante with hill sprint workouts. (Image: Ben Blankenburg/iStock/Getty Images)

Alternate your flat sprint workout with hill sprint workouts every other week. Find a hill you can run up within 30 seconds. Sprint up the hill as fast as you can and then slowly walk back down. Complete two warmup hill sprints and then do eight to 10 more all-out sprints, toning your body with running.


Keep a log of your runs, noting your time or distance to ensure you are making your runs more challenging. Always get clearance from your physician before starting a new, more intense running program.


Do not run more than four days per week or your muscles will not recover enough to perform during your harder runs; this will make it difficult to tone your muscles with running. Refrain from running on a slanted surface to avoid injury to your hip, knee and ankle joints.

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