How do you use running to improve your muscular fitness? There is no doubt that many fitness experts prefer running when it comes to choosing an exercise. Due to a busy lifestyle, people find it difficult to go to the gym; therefore, running becomes an excellent alternative. Consequently, many people run to burn calories and lose weight.
However, apart from being a calorie blaster, running builds the core lower body strength and increases muscular endurance. Also, running repairs damaged muscle tissue and thus decreases the recovery time between reps. Therefore, this article will mainly focus on running to build muscular fitness.
The scientific benefits of running
A 1996 study was conducted on male and female runners, and it found that 82% of the variation in the human growth hormone response was explained by the peak power output and peak blood lactate response to sprints.
A 2009 study was conducted on male rugby players, and it found that resistance-running increased speed, strength, and jumping power.
Subsequently, a 2016 study was conducted on NCAA division sprinters, and it concluded that leg muscles per height mass were 22% greater in sprinters. It also found that hip-and knee-crossing muscles were significantly larger. The study concluded a strong correlation between sprinting and large hip, knee flexors, and extensors.
Finally, a 2020 study was conducted on 2,500 runners, and it found that 81% of men and 75% of women who smoked quit once they started running regularly. Furthermore, it concluded that weight loss was associated with running and was more significant in overweight people.
Also, running has been proven to decrease the risk of inactive diseases and improve cardiovascular performance. A healthy heart and a good set of lungs are good health and fitness indicators. These are just some of the health and fitness benefits of running.
Muscle fiber types
To understand the relationship between running and muscular fitness, learning about muscle fiber types is essential. In this way, you will better understand how running improves your muscular fitness. There are two types of muscle fibers:
The first muscle type you activate when performing physical activities is slow-twitch muscle fiber. Slow-twitch muscle fibers can sustain a low power force over a long time. Slow-twitch muscle activities include:
- Power walking
To activate slow-twitch muscles, perform slow-paced activities for a long time. Slow-paced activities improve cardiovascular health and use the oxidative energy pathway. The oxidative energy pathway burns fat cells for energy.
To activate fast-twitch muscles, perform fast-paced activities for a short to intermediate time. During fast-paced exercises fast-twitch muscle takeover, these muscles produce an enormous amount of power due to their greater size. However, these fibers will fatigue quickly and require a more extended rest period. Fast-twitch muscle activities include:
Fast-twitch muscle activities improve muscle fitness – speed and power. This is because they use the ATP-CP and Glycolytic energy pathways. The ATP-CP energy pathway burns adenosine creatine phosphate for energy, while the glycolytic energy pathway burns glycogen (sugar) for fuel.
It is crucial you determine your goal, whether you want to build speed, power, or endurance. This is because the human body uses three different energy pathways at any given time, and running can access all three of them.
How to use running to improve muscular fitness
For muscular fitness, use HIIT training for better results. Below are some of the most effective ways of running to improve muscular fitness:
1. 30-minute hill workout
It is an effective way of running to tone your body, build muscles, and burn additional calories.
Before running or jogging, make sure to warm up for 10 minutes. Warmups improve blood circulation and muscle flexibility, which prevents injuries. You can warm up by lightly jogging and skipping. Never stretch before working out; stretching has been proven to cause injuries.
After you are done with your warmup, it’s time to move on to the workout.
Work Interval: Sprint up a hill for a minute. Then jog down the hill slowly. By running full speed, you activate your fast-twitch muscles. After a few sprints, your legs should feel the burn.
To get the most from your workout, keep a low center of gravity, look straight ahead, swing your arms back and forward, and drive your legs forward, pushing off the balls of your feet, like weightlifting, complete multiple intervals based on your experience level. Then, spend 20 minutes performing the workout.
Recovery Interval: For recovery, jog down the hill. To get your breath back, go at a comfortable pace. Repeat the recovery interval after each sprint.
Cool Down: Once you are done with your last set, jog for at least 10 minutes to cool down. It allows your body to recover and gradually return to your regular heart rate.
2. 30-minutes ladder workout
Another excellent way that running can help to improve muscular fitness is a ladder workout. You can choose a different pace on a ladder workout.
Before running, warm up your body by jogging for 5-minutes. The warmup prepares your muscles for a vigorous workout and activates the slow-twitch muscles.
Work Intervals: Start by running 5 minutes at a marathon pace, then at a half marathon pace for 4 minutes; next 3 minutes at a 5-mile pace, then 2 minutes at a 2-mile pace, and finally, one minute at a full sprint.
Recovery Interval: Take one minute of recovery time after the first workout interval by lightly jogging for one minute and then repeat the workout interval.
Cool Down: Finally, jog for five minutes to let your body cool down and return to its original condition.
3. 30-minutes sprint interval workout
The sprint interval workout builds muscles by activating fast-twitch muscles. When you sprint, not only does it activate fast-twitch muscles, but it also increases anaerobic activity and creates speed and power.
Jog for five minutes before starting your workout to warm up your body and activate your slow-twitch muscles.
Work Intervals: Sprint for a 30-second speed interval.
Recovery Interval: After each sprint interval, take one minute of recovery time with a slow-paced jog.
Cool Down: After 20 minutes of sprinting, jog for five minutes to cool down your body.
Tips on how to build muscles with running
Running is a compound, versatile activity that you can expand by changing the running surface. You can use running to increase speed, power, or endurance. Subsequently, you can also use running to improve muscle fitness and cardiovascular health.
Because of the versatility of running, you can use running for general fitness training and burning calories. In addition, you can build muscles or burn fat by running when you know what you are doing. Therefore, in this section, we will explain how to improve your muscular strength.
● Change intensity of running workout
If you want to build muscles in your legs, add sprints to your workouts. However, make sure not to push yourself too hard. Therefore, add interval training as a part of your workout routine. Intervals use jogging and sprinting together to work slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscles. Interval training allows you to work fast-twitch muscles longer and prevents you from injuring muscles or cramping.
● Use resistance training with sprinting workouts
Adding a hill to your sprints is better than running on a flat plane if one is near you. If a hill is not near, you can always use a running parachute or weighted vest. The goal is to add resistance to your running workouts. Resistance Training is one of the fastest ways to build muscle.
● Add weight lifting or resistance bands.
Hitting the gym is a great way to complement your running workout. The strengthened muscles can protect your joints from injury caused by the repeated impact of running.
● Never forget to take a rest.
Rest is always essential when exercising, as it can help your muscles recover and build. Like your workout, know how much time you plan to rest between and after workouts. There is a correlation between work, rest, and growth. A good workout challenges muscles and activates muscle growth, but during rest, the muscles grow.
● Eat enough protein
Besides running, add protein to your diet. Eat chicken, fish, eggs, and lean meat. Adding the proper nutrients to your workout can maximize your results. Exercises are great, but your diet is still king. It decides how much fat you burn and how much muscle you build. Subsequently, protein is the corner piece of your diet.
Benefits of running
- Improve heart health
- Increase speed, endurance, power, and balance
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Strengthen muscles
- Burn calories
- Improves quality of sleep
- Improve knees and back
A Running workout can be slow-paced or fast-paced, build endurance, speed, or power, and work fast-twitch or slow-twitch muscles. Furthermore, it can be performed on the road, a hill, in the gym, with a weighted vest or parachute. I think you get the picture. You can do almost anything with a running workout, and the result is also just as impressive.
A thirty-minute running workout a day can drastically change your life. Moreover, it can help build muscles, speed, power, burn fat, and increase endurance. The trick is to change it up and use different running surfaces. As a result, running improves cardiovascular health, weight management, athleticism, and weight room performance.
In short, running is for everyone, no matter how old you get or what shape you are in. Always start at your level and consult a trainer or doctor to get the most out of any exercise or fitness activity. Finally, to reduce the impact of running on your joints, run on a natural service like the ground, grass, sand, or a hill. Natural surfaces may slow you down, but they will provide a safe, more resistant workout for you.
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