Through all these years, the popularity of running has not wavered a single bit. Sure, there are some people who’d rather peel their toenails backwards with a pair of needle-nosed pliers, but there are far more people who can’t go a day without scratching their running itch.
Regardless of what category you fall into, it is in your best interests to learn how to build muscle while running. Not only will it expedite your training efforts, it can also add a dimension to your training that you may have been missing all these years.
Incorporate sprints into your routine
Running by itself is known as cardiovascular, or aerobic, exercise. Its primary benefit is improving your cardiovascular health. This is the type of training your doctor always tells you to do to prevent disease and keep your weight regulated. All of that is true, and it’s all good motivation to do it.
Since you are actively moving your legs and recruiting the large muscles that reside there, you also get a little bit of resistance. But it’s only a slice of resistance, so your legs don’t really get that big. They get more toned than anything else.
However, the game changes completely when you alter the way you train. Instead of doing long, steady runs at a low intensity, turn the volume all the way up and sprint like a cheetah! This will have a multifaceted effect on your body when it comes to building muscle.
First and foremost, your legs are going to be working way harder. This additional feedback is the equivalent of lifting heavy weights in the gym. It will cause your muscles to get bigger and stronger. Just look at Olympic sprinters and speed skaters. Their legs are like tree trunks because they do a lot of sprint training.
Additionally, sprinting has a carryover effect on the rest of your body. This is due to the hormone release you get. Any time you go balls out with intensity, your body pumps out a ton of growth hormone and testosterone.
These key hormones help you build muscle in all areas of your body. So by doing sprints, you will reap the benefits not just in your legs, but everywhere else as well.
Take advantage of hills
Sprinting is good. But if you take your workouts to the hills, you’ll learn really fast how to build muscle while running. Hills cause you to work even harder, and the hormone release is even higher.
A simple method is to do a warm-up jog, then arrive at the base of a hill. Run up it as hard and fast as you can for about 50 yards, then turn around and jog back to the bottom. That can be your recovery period. Then turn around and hit the jets again.
Continue for a series of 10 to 12 sprints and finish with a light recovery jog. Since you are going hard, there is no need to do a really long workout. You can easily get the job done in a mere 30 minutes. That’s another advantage of sprint intervals. You do not need to work out for as long, which is a big advantage if you are pressed for time.
Wear a weighted vest
Another trick of the trade is to make your body heavier by wearing a weighted vest. Even a mere 10 pounds of added load will make a huge difference. You can find one that is adjustable, too.
Start off with a small amount of weight until you adapt. Then add weights incrementally every one to two weeks and watch the magic happen. At first, do sprints on flat ground; then start doing them up hills.
Take adequate rest breaks
Since you are putting in an all-out effort, you do not want to break down your muscles, which is what will happen if you run every day. It’s totally fine to do brisk walking or very light jogging on your “off days,” but do not go hardcore on consecutive days. That is a recipe for disaster. Take at least one day off between training sessions.
The only true way to learn how to build muscle while running is to get outside and practise. If you are confined to a gym, that’s no problem. Hop onto a treadmill and get to work. If you are dedicated, you should definitely be able to see results in as little as four weeks.