Does Running Help Build Leg Muscle? 

The short answer is yes it can do, but that wouldn’t make for a very long blog would it? 

Running of course does help to build muscles in your legs, as they are the primary tool being used. The intensity of your runs and how often you run will have a big impact on how quickly your muscles become more defined.

Running alone will not build up your muscles, and it is always best to mix up your running with some strength and endurance workouts for maximum results.

Also note that what may be working for you, might not work for someone else and vice versa. If you’re in doubt, get a coach or trainer, they will provide you with a bespoke plan that caters to you and your needs. Everyone is different.  

Different types of running

Different running styles will help you in different ways. Long-distance running can give you leaner muscles and make your legs stronger. Shorter, faster distances and sprints add the bulk. 

Being able to use these in your workouts will help your leg muscles to strengthen and grow.

Barefoot running, hill sprints and intervals will eventually strengthen your calves, it is suggested that you also regularly massage your calves – this will help break down scar tissue and make the calves stronger. 

Your muscles have two types of fibre – slow and fast-twitch. The slow-twitch fibres are focused on the smaller movements and are resistant to fatigue. They also help with posture control and are used during long-distance runs. 

Fast-twitch fibres focus on the big powerful movements but only for short bursts at a time. They are used more in sprinting and shorter distances. This is why when you see sprinters on the TV, their legs look leaner and more muscly than those elite athletes who run marathons. 

 How long does it take? 

According to a study from 2019 – it can take between six to ten weeks to build up your leg muscles. This is all dependent on what type of training you do. It is recommended that you incorporate HIIT workouts, yoga, pilates and weight training into your regular routine to get lean and strong muscles. 

You shouldn’t try to rush the process, it can be damaging to your body and can set you back in your fitness journey. 

Take your time, factor in what you do already and if you need to adapt or change. Remember, it isn’t going to be quick or easy. Get the right shoes for the runs you’ll be doing, or speak to Bare Foot Running to see how they do it. 

Eat Healthily and Take Time to Recover 

Building muscle is also helped by what you eat and how hydrated you are. Making sure that you have water before, during and after an intense workout will help your body build muscle. 

Eating carbohydrates and proteins both before and after your workout will give your body the energy and the means to build up those muscle fibres. 

Take the time to recover, especially after an intense workout. Try not to do back-to-back intensive days as this may set you back, yoga and pilates will help stretch the achy muscles and give you some exercise whilst resting. 

Building up muscles takes time, it will be hard work and you there is always going to be days where it’s tougher than you think.

If you want to get any more tips on running, cycling or general fitness – head over to our main blog page.

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