Do You Get Leg Strength From Jogging?

Jogging, like any aerobic activity, helps build cardiovascular fitness. Running also will help build strength in the leg muscles, especially for new runners. Quadriceps, hamstrings, calf muscles and smaller support muscles all get a workout during jogging sessions. A jogging program alone will develop lean muscle and endurance in the legs. Legs will not get big and bulky muscles from jogging. To achieve larger muscles, incorporate resistance training with weights into your workouts.

Jogging naturally builds quadriceps strength.
Credit: Estudi M6/iStock/Getty Images

Leg Muscles Worked

Jogging engages a full range of muscles in the legs. The large quadriceps femoris comprises several smaller muscles of the front of the thigh and works to power your legs during a run by lifting from the hip and flexing at the knee. Hamstrings on the back of the thighs works in concert with the quad muscles to propel the stride. The hip flexors aid the movement of your hips; the calf muscles generate ankle and knee movement. When you jog, the repetitive motion of the strides repeatedly exercises the muscles to build up their strength and endurance.

Development

Jogging will build leg strength relatively quickly in novice runners who have weaker legs. The muscles get stronger to support the weight of the runner. Once the legs get strong enough to support the runner's weight, though, the strength of the muscles will plateau. To achieve greater strength gains, a runner would have to add resistance training to his regimen.

Variation

Joggers that increase their pace during training – incorporating bursts of higher speeds and intensity – can gain leg strength more quickly. Also, runners should add hill workouts to place a different emphasis on their leg muscles. Jogging up and down hills targets the quads, hamstrings and calf muscles at different angles than simply traveling along flat surfaces. Using this variety during training builds up more leg muscles, including smaller helper muscles and tendons.

Considerations

New runners will experience greater strength gains than avid joggers. Once a certain fitness level is reached, jogging will maintain leg strength but not increase it. To effectively build leg strength, be aware of proper form. Joggers that have an incorrect stride can overdevelop one leg and get out of balance, which might lead to injuries. Because running depends so heavily on quadriceps, the hamstrings can trail the quads in developing. Therefore, incorporate weight training that targets the hamstrings to ensure you maintain proper strength balance.

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