Does Running Build Muscle? | STACK Fitness

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

Does Running Build Muscle?

October 4, 2012 | Mitch Calvert

Must See Running Videos

I often get asked, "Does running build muscle?" Usually my answer is no, but with a caveat: regardless of the type of training—whether bodybuilder or power lifter, purely for size or strength, or for a particular sport—running has its place. What's key are the type and duration. Long distance running rarely fits in to any of those plans. (Here's how to tailor it for your sport.)

As a power lifter, for example, you're trying to max out your leg strength with low rep squats. Running for miles on end will compromise your recovery and maybe even decrease your leg strength. Some wrongly mistake leaner legs for stronger ones. Although running may trim some of the fat off your legs, it's not likely to make them stronger.

If you're a triathlete or a marathon runner, by all means run for long distances to build your endurance. However, for most athletes who want to run to build muscle and maintain conditioning, there are better alternatives. Long distance runs don't make sense for strength athletes or for football, baseball and hockey players. Those sports require sprinting in 60- to 90-second intervals, so you should train in ways that prepare you for that type of running. How? With high intensity interval training.

This can mean anything from straight up 60- to 100-meter sprints to sled pulls or hill sprints. Sled pulls, for example, mimic a hockey player's all-out 60-second shift on the ice, a punt returner's sprint down the field, or a baseball player's run around the bases. You have the resistance of a defender (in the form of the sled) with the cardiovascular element of a full-out sprint. (See powerhouse RB Trent Richardson's explosive running training.)

You want to build explosive power, and yet still be able to train in the gym and build muscle during your down time. Try running five miles a day combined with daily strength training in the gym, and see how quickly you burn out. Also, the calories you'd have to consume to grow muscle would be significant, considering the calorie deficit created by the run.

So does running build muscle? With a combination of HITT (running in sprints) and weight lifting, you can build the endurance required for your sport without cutting into the strength gains you need to make to last you through a long season.

Mitch Calvert
- Mitch Calvert, born and raised in Canada, chose a life of health and fitness eight years ago, transforming himself from a severely overweight teenager to...
Mitch Calvert
- Mitch Calvert, born and raised in Canada, chose a life of health and fitness eight years ago, transforming himself from a severely overweight teenager to...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Be Ready to Run a 5K in 6-8 Weeks

How to Start Your Barefoot Leg Workout

The Most Effective Form of Endurance Training

Why Jogging Is Counterproductive

Runners: Don't Overlook These 2 Types of Training

7-Year Old Triathlete Sets 5K Record

Guide to Common Running Terminology

Don't Choke on Race Day: Tips to Run a Better Race

How to Control Your Breathing During an Obstacle Race

Pick The Right Running Partner (The First Time)

Maximize Your Trail Running

The Nature and Nurture of Running for Fitness

The Exercise Every Runner Must Do

Weight Training for Runners: 3 Full-Body Moves

7 Tips to Help First-Time Marathoners Avoid Common Mistakes

3 Things You Must Do Before Trying Minimalist Running Shoes

6 5K Tips for a Great Running Experience

Foolproof 20-Week Marathon Training Schedule

Training for Mud Runs, Part 4: Long Trail Runs

Running Tips for True Beginners

Running Away From GI Distress: Symptoms, Causes And Tips

An Introduction to Strength Training for Runners

How to Prepare for the Spartan Race and Other Mud Runs

Ultramarathon Runner Stephanie Howe's 7 Training Secrets

You're Doing It Wrong: Running

How to Design a Running Schedule That Fits Your Life

The Obstacle Course Racer's Guide to Fixing Muscle Cramps

5 Keys and A Workout Plan for An Awesome 5K

Get Geared Up for the Wall Jump Obstacle

8-Week Spartan Beast Training Program

4 Running Form Fixes for Beginners

Are You Ready for the Arctic Enema?

7 Endurance Tips From Ultramarathon Runner Ian Sharman

Off-Season Triathlon Training Tips and Workout Program

STACK Challenge: Army Two-Mile Run

Are You Ready for a Tough Mudder?

The Only 2 Running Diet Rules You Need to Know

4 Biggest 5K Training Mistakes

Tired of Tiring During Runs? Try These Jogging Pace Drills

Learn the Secrets of Tapering

Hunter McIntyre Rises Above the Competition

8 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Ran My First Marathon