Running and strength training go hand in hand when it comes to building a muscular physique. Running does not hinder strength training, but do not use it instead of strength training. While running builds lower-body strength, it does not help you build your upper body. Combine running and strength training to achieve the best strength gains. Running and strength training work together to help you build muscle and create a balanced body.
Endurance running or sprinting will not burn muscle unless your body is in a caloric deficit. This means eating less than what your body needs to maintain your basic metabolism and body structure. Each individual has a distinctive amount of required energy for his organs, muscles and cells to function properly. If you are eating the correct amount of protein and calories that your body needs, running will allow you to lose fat rather than muscle. A pound of fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories. A caloric deficit can occur by not replacing the calories you lose from exercising. Eventually your body will use energy from your skeletal muscles if you do not consume enough calories. This results in muscle wasting or loss of muscle tissue.
Force of Gravity
Running is a weight-bearing exercise that develops more lower-body lean muscle mass. This also keeps your bones healthy, which is always a plus. Your leg muscles have to work hard against gravity to propel yourself forward. If you are going up a hill, your muscles will be more challenged. Anytime you push your legs, you build strength. Including a strength-training routine into your exercise regimen will be more beneficial though, because it can help boost your stamina. It also helps place different stress on your muscles because you move in various ways.
Sprinting vs. Endurance Running
Sprinters often have more muscular legs than endurance runners because they use more fast-twitch muscle fibers compared to distance runners. Endurance runners use more slow-twitch muscle fibers. Fast-twitch fibers are mainly for speed workouts and powerful movements. This is why sprinters tend to have larger leg muscles then marathon runners. It is easier to develop more muscle strength if you are a sprinter because your body will use more fast-twitch muscle fibers.
Establishing a Regimen
Combining cardiovascular workouts with strength training is a prime way to build muscle and prevent muscle loss. Having a balanced nutrition plan is equally important. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, you should perform strength training at least two to three days a week. Do eight to 10 exercises that work your major muscle groups. Do at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular training five days a week or 20 to 60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise three days a week. Moderate exercise is anything that keeps your heart rate up but low enough where you can hold a decent conversation. Vigorous exercise is anything more intense where there is a substantial increase in heart rate.
- Fitness Magazine: Is Running Counterproductive to Strength Training?
- Fitness Magazine: Will Running Uphill Make My Calves Bigger?
- International Journal of Sports Physiological Performance: Kenyan and Ethiopian Runners: What Makes Them So Good?; Wilber RL, et al.; June 2012
- American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise; August 2011