Everyone works out with different goals in mind. Some want to get thin. Some want to get strong. Some want to get huge. And these different goals lead to common questions as individuals plan their workouts, questions like: Does running build muscle?

The short answer to this question is “no,” running does not build muscle. Not long-distance running, at least. Distance running does help you build endurance, and it trims your legs (as well as your entire body).

Here’s a little bit more on the effect running can have as you look to build muscle.


Distance Running and Lifting Don’t Mix

If you want to get huge, distance running isn’t an activity you want to engage in. There are many reasons why. For example: Muscle needs calories to grow larger and to stay larger, and distance running may inadvertently burn calories needed for muscle mass.

The body also responds far differently to distance running than it does to heavy lifting. Distance running is all about endurance and efficiency. There’s a theory that the body actually starts to shrink its own muscle fibers when engaged in distance running — a pure act of seeking greater efficiency.

Also, distance running can greatly interfere with your body’s ability to bounce back from lifting. The last thing you want is for distance running to weaken leg muscles and undermine your ability to increase your ability to squat.


Consider Sprints Instead

OK, so know we know that distance running is a bad idea if you’re trying to build muscle. But what about other types of running?

Sprints can be an important factor in your ability to build muscle. There are several reasons why, not least of which is that sprinting is great at both burning fat and building muscle. When you sprint, your building more of the muscle you want, while burning away fat that can obscure your muscle. It’s a perfect complement to your lifting.

Sprinting also helps improve your general endurance and toughness, which translates nicely to heavy lifting.


Final Thoughts on Running and Building Muscle

If you’re looking to build muscle, how should you approach sprints? Consider running interval sprints of 60 to 100 meters, resting for 10 to 20 seconds between each one. Not only is this helpful when looking to build muscle, it also helps replicate the explosive speed that’s needed in sports like soccer, football and hockey. If you’re training for one of these sports while also looking to build muscle, sprints are an absolute must.

If you’re trying to get down to a goal weight while also looking toned, feel free to go for it with the distance running. Warnings are more for serious lifters and athletes who want to build muscle and burn fat — and who don’t want to do anything to compromise those dual goals.

Have you tried sprints for muscle growth and fat loss? If so, let us know how it went by using the comments section below — or you can always reach out using our contact page.


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