Running is one of the simplest activities on the planet, and with proper gear and preparation, anyone can do it. There are many benefits that running can bring out, but Does running build muscle? Let’s be with BSXInsight to learn more useful information.
How Does Running Build Muscle?
In one study, a group of 12 college students who enjoyed recreational running completed a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout. This consisted of 4 sets of running at near maximum capacity for 4 minutes, followed by 3 minutes of active rest.
After 10 weeks of HIIT workouts, they showed close to an 11% increase in the muscle fiber area of their quadriceps, compared with the control group who did not participate in HIIT workouts.
Workouts like sprinting can help muscles grow.
Running is thought to be a great way to build muscle and prevent proteins from interfering with muscle growth and decreasing muscle protein breakdown.
On the other hand, running long distances can actually help increase muscle mass and prevent hair loss.
In a study of 30 male amateur runners, all groups experienced significant increases in markers of muscle damage after running distances of 6.2, 13, and 26.1 miles (10, 21, and 42 km).
The levels of these markers increased as the distance increased and remained elevated even three days later.
These results suggest that short-duration running with high intensity builds leg muscles, while long-distance running causes significant muscle damage, inhibiting muscle growth.
How Your Body Builds Muscle
The more muscle protein synthesis exceeds muscle protein breakdown, the more muscle building will occur.
Protein is a key part of the muscle that can be tailored to your needs, depending on your diet and exercise routine.
If you think of protein as individual bricks, MPS is the process of adding bricks to a wall, while MPB is the process of taking them away. If you keep adding bricks, the wall will continue to grow – but if you take away more bricks than you add, the wall will slowly shrink.
In other words, your body must create more protein than it uses up.
The stimulus of exercise, primarily weight lifting, results in an increase in MPS. This, in turn, leads to an increase in net muscle gain.
How Long Does It Take To Build Muscle?
The time it takes to build muscle can vary depending on many factors such as your body type, diet, and training routine. A study by the Institute of Sports Sciences in 2019 found that muscle-building can take anywhere from 6 to 10 weeks, depending on what type of training you do.
Different muscles are used for different types of running. Slow-twitch muscles are great for long-distance runs, as they are fatigue resistant and focus on small movement and posture control. These muscles rely on aerobic energy, which is perfect for endurance running. Fast-twitch muscle fibers, on the other hand, are used when sprinting. They are great for generating big, powerful forces quickly, but they fatigue more easily.
According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, power athletes have a higher ratio of fast-twitch fibers, which helps them excel in sprinting. Endurance athletes, on the other hand, have more slow-twitch muscle fibers, which helps them excel in long-distance running. Why do sprinters tend to look more built when compared with cross-country and long-distance runners? The difference of emphasis in these fibers is what brings the explosive power needed to sprint.
So, where does running build muscle?
On the lower half of your body! However, just doing HIIT and speed training is not enough when it comes to building muscle. Nutritionists recommend using a healthy diet with plenty of protein and nutrients as well as muscle training and rest to build your muscles. If you are not sure where to start, consider consulting with a certified professional trainer who can help you create a customized plan for your needs.
Sample Running Workouts For Building Muscle
Short, high-intensity running workouts can help you build lower body muscle, especially in your quadriceps and hamstrings.
Here are a few sample HITT running workouts for building muscle:
- 6 sets of 20-second sprints at maximum intensity separated by 2 minutes of walking or light jogging
- 5 sets of 30-second sprints at maximum intensity separated by 4 minutes of walking or light jogging
- 4 sets of 45-second sprints at moderate intensity separated by 5 minutes of walking or light jogging
- 4 sets of 30-second hill sprints separated by the time it takes you to walk back down the hill
Try to do these workouts 3–4 times per week.
You can personalize them based on your comfort level and training experience.
HIIT workouts can help you gain lower body muscles. Warming up and cooling down can prevent injuries and enhance recovery.
Proper Nutrition For Building Muscle
There are a few things you can do to make sure you’re getting the most out of your running and do not lose muscle: eat right and make sure your diet has the right quantities of the following food groups.
Your muscles need protein to stay healthy and strong. Protein provides the essential amino acids that your muscles need to rebuild after a workout. Without protein, your muscles would be unable to recover from exercise or rebuild themselves after microtrauma.
According to experts, in order to gain muscle, you should aim to eat 1.4-2g of protein per kilogram of your body weight. This will ensure that your body has the protein it needs to develop and maintain lean muscle tissue.
Everyone, no matter how to fit or how often they work out, needs a certain amount of dietary protein to maintain muscle mass. Some sources of protein are better for gaining muscle than others.
There are many factors that go into determining the quality of a protein source. These include digestibility, amino acid profile, and bioavailability (bioavailability, basically, means how easily your body can utilize that protein.) But what’s most important when talking about muscle development is the source of that protein and in which foods it is combined with other macronutrients.
Secondly, eating a piece of chicken, along with some rice and vegetables, makes for a complete meal that can help you reach your fitness goals. Adding carbs to a post-workout meal from high glycemic sources, such as white rice, can help your body turn protein into muscle. Studies have demonstrated that this is the best way to reach your fitness goals.
As opposed to only supplementing your diet with isolated proteins, you will get superior results by the following foods high in protein:
- Turkey Breast
- Lean Steak
- Milk (This includes fortified milk options like soy or rice milk, which are alternatives to cow’s milk)
Protein Supplements Are Equally Useful
At this point, you may be wondering if you need to supplement your protein intake with protein powders. The truth is, supplements can help you boost your intake, alongside a balanced diet.
This can help limit the number of amino acids you lose as a result of training. They also provide a convenient way to get your daily protein quota in one meal, and some people do better with supplements than whole foods.
Whey protein powder is the best choice for those looking to bulk up and gain muscle mass. It has been shown to provide the most benefits for people in this situation. Whey is a fast-digesting protein that gets into your muscles quickly, providing them with the nourishment they need after a strenuous workout.
Casein, on the other hand, is the slowest digesting form of protein available. Its amino acids are released over several hours. This makes it most useful for people looking to maintain/gain lean muscle or anyone who doesn’t like eating six times a day.
If you’re looking to bulk up and add strength, a smart plan would be to take supplements if you can’t get enough protein from your diet. Whey powder is a great way to make sure you’re getting enough amino acids, especially if you find it difficult to eat six meals per day.
Carbohydrates For Muscle Growth
Carbohydrates are not just your muscles’ go-to choice; they are also an integral part of muscle growth. Glucose, which is the body’s preferred energy source, is made up of carbohydrates. Your muscles use this fuel for everything from moving to contract.
After working out, eating high glycemic carbohydrates like white rice or raisins can help you create more muscle tissue.
To have good muscle growth and repair, it’s important to maintain a good blood glucose balance; if your body’s cells are constantly drawing on all of the available energy, they won’t be able to use some for other purposes.
Some of the best muscle-building foods include carbohydrates:
- White rice (quickly turned into glucose during digestion)
- Raisins (about 85% glucose)
- Potatoes (which can be oxidized for energy or stored as glycogen)
- Whole-grain bread and cereals (contain complex carbs such as starches, which are broken down more slowly)
You may be surprised to learn that dietary fat is actually beneficial for optimal performance and function. And no, it’s not because you need extra padding. Your body uses fats in a variety of ways.
Some benefits of a healthy diet include: fueling exercise and muscle building, maintaining healthy hormones and cell membranes, absorbing fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K (which are found primarily in the foods listed below), producing blood cells, and keeping your immune system running smoothly.
The health of your brain and the rest of your body relies on omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients are essential for reducing inflammation and keeping your body functioning at its best.
Optimal sources of Omega-3 are:
- Fish oils (salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, halibut)
- Flaxseed (linseed oil)
- Broccoli (one cup contains just 7mg of ALA, which is then converted to EPA and DHA in the body)
- Chia seeds (packed with omega 3’s!)
Water is essential for many bodily functions such as hydration, digestion, and circulation. It also helps you get rid of toxins, regulates body temperature, and flushes the digestive tract. But for athletes, it’s crucial to increase water intake throughout the day since this will help replace lost fluids through sweat while working out.
If you’re feeling thirsty, it’s time to up your water intake; your body needs it. If you’ve been staying hydrated throughout the day, you’ll be ready to take on that killer workout.