Does Running Build Muscle? Redefine Your Workout


When considering running and its impact on muscle growth, many people wonder if it can help them achieve a muscular physique. Here, we’ll dive into the topic and provide all the information needed.

Running is great for cardiovascular health, but it doesn’t target specific muscle groups for hypertrophy. It mainly focuses on burning calories. However, it does have some positive effects on muscle development. It can help tone and strengthen your lower body muscles, such as your quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes.

If we look back to our hunter-gatherer days, humans ran for survival. This stimulated muscle growth in their bodies as they were constantly using their lower body muscles.

Running may not be the most efficient way to build significant amounts of muscle mass compared to resistance training exercises. But, it still has its benefits when it comes to toning and strengthening muscles.

Combining running and resistance training into your routine may offer a well-rounded approach toward your desired physique. Plus, it’s a great way to avoid awkward social interactions at parties!

The Benefits of Running

Running offers more than just calorie-burning benefits! It builds muscle, boosts your cardiovascular health, and enhances your mental well-being. Plus, it can improve your bone density, metabolism for weight loss, and immune system.

Running And Muscle Building

Does Running Build Muscle?

Running is a great way to build muscle and get stronger. It engages multiple muscle groups and has a repetitive, gravity-resistant motion, which increases muscle mass. Here are a few key points to understand how running builds muscle:

  • Running activates leg muscles, like the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and glutes. They work together to generate power and move us forward.
  • The impact of running on the ground stimulates bones, leading to increased bone density and strength.
  • Running also works the core muscles. This helps stabilize the body and improves posture.
  • Interval training, such as sprints or hill repeats, can further increase muscle growth by challenging muscles with different intensity levels.
  • Long-distance running mainly focuses on endurance, but adding resistance training can help you both build muscle and stay fit.

To get the most out of your running for building muscle, try these ideas:

Strength training exercises: Add squats, lunges, and plyometrics to your routine. This will help build all-over strength and support your running.

Varying intensity levels: Mix up your workouts with intervals or tempo runs. This challenges different muscle fibers and helps them adapt.

Proper nutrition: Eat a balanced diet with lean proteins (chicken breast or tofu) and carbs for energy.

Adequate rest: Give your muscles time to repair and grow between running sessions.

Proper Nutrition for Muscle Building

Proper nutrition is key for muscle building. It gives your body the nutrients it needs for growth and repair. Here are the main nutrients:

ProteinHelps build and repair muscles
CarbohydratesProvide energy for workouts
Healthy FatsAid hormone production and reduce inflammation
Vitamins and MineralsContribute to overall health and muscle function

To get the most out of muscle building, here are some tips:

  • Prioritize Protein: Get enough protein each day. From animal-based sources like lean meats, eggs, dairy, etc. Plant-based options like tofu, tempeh, beans, and lentils work too.
  • Include Carbohydrates: Don’t forget carbs. They provide energy for intense workouts that help with muscle growth.
  • Stay Hydrated: Water is essential for proper nutrient absorption and hydration. It supports optimal muscle performance during exercise.

Supplement Recommendations for Runners

For runners looking to boost their performance, certain supplements can provide a helpful edge. Let’s explore the top options for fuelling runs and aiding recovery.

Supplements for Runners:

SupplementBenefitsRecommended Dosage
CreatineImproves strength and power output3-5 grams a day
Fish OilReduces inflammation and benefits heart health1-2 grams of EPA and DHA combined daily
Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)Enhances muscle recovery and reduces fatigue during exercise5-10 grams before or during workouts


Running can be an awesome way to build muscle. Strategically approaching it is the key. Speedwork, hill sprints, and strength training exercises can help stimulate growth and improve strength. Nutrition and rest are also essential for recovery and growth.

Focus on intensity when building muscle through running. Speedwork like HIIT workouts and tempo runs can activate fast-twitch muscle fibers. Hill sprints can also challenge the muscles, especially the quads and glutes.

Famous athletes have used running to build muscle. Sprinters like Usain Bolt showcases explosive power and muscular development. Marathon runners like Eliud Kipchoge demonstrate how long-distance running can lead to well-defined leg muscles.

Dr. Jun Ren is a dedicated and experienced registered dietitian and nutritionist who is committed to helping people achieve their health goals through personalized nutrition plans. With a passion for promoting healthy eating habits and preventing chronic diseases, Dr. Ren has been able to assist numerous clients in improving their overall quality of life.

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