Striking a balance between running and strength training isn’t easy, and often leads to confusion. Well, guess what? You can get into jogging without annihilating your gains — contrary to popular belief.
But does running help build muscle? Well, it depends on the intensity and duration of your runs. The trick is to incorporate short bursts of strenuous activity into your routine. So, don’t be too hasty in ditching your running shoes!
We’re going to dispel common myths and delve deeper into the relationship between running and muscle growth.
True or False? Common Myths Dispelled
Running doesn’t have to be complicated. Lace up a pair of decent trainers, and you’re set! But dig a little deeper and you’re sure to find a heap of misconceptions, ranging from the importance of foam rollers to carb loading ahead of short runs!
Let’s pull the pin on a few common myths…
"You can’t run if you’re weight training"
FALSE – believe it or not, you can do both and still be able to move! In fact, runners who lift weights tend to have better running form and are less prone to injury. This is because weight training builds muscle and toughens the connective tissues, improving resilience to injury.
You need to ‘carb load’ before running.
TRUE – for those at the back, carb loading is the heavy consumption of things like rice, bread and pasta – typically done before a big race because carbs tend to release energy slowly – ideal when you're running a long race. So, while it's true, it's not necessary for short runs, you'll have more than enough in your tank from general day-to-day carb consumption.
"You shouldn’t stop during a proper run"
FALSE – running consistently without stopping is great for stamina, but it’s not necessary, especially for beginners starting out on their running journey, who might want to alternate between walking and jogging. In order to practice for more physically challenging runs, experienced runners might also want to consider ‘fartlek’ (Swedish for ‘speed play’). This basically involves a continuous run, with faster periods of easy or moderate-paced running.
Types of running to help you build muscle
Does running build leg muscle? Yes, it can be beneficial! Running is a repetitive weight-bearing motion that simultaneously works out the various muscle groups in your lower body: glutes, hamstrings and quads.
Physical stress during exercise breaks down tissues in your muscles, which prompts your body to build them back stronger than before.
Here’s a few techniques to keep in your arsenal:
Fartlek running – or continuous running, is a technique used when you’re playing around with different paces without stopping. You could start with jogging, then mix it up with a sprint before slowing back down to a steady jog – just don’t stop!
Hill running – or incline running is a form of resistance training. It’s one of the best ways to build muscle in your calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Not only that, but it will boost your cardio and fat burning.
Weighted vests – these can help create greater gravitational resistance and force your muscles to contract faster and with more effort, which in turn makes them much stronger. Just remember to start with less weight and build it up slowly.
So, there you have it, the next time you don’t fancy picking up the old dumbbells, why not lace up instead?
Just don’t forget how essential it is that that you give your body the right fuel. Without adequate nutrients, particularly carbs and protein, your body will not be able to support the muscle-building process and all of your hard work will be wasted!