Can You Run and Build Muscle at the Same Time?

This is a question that plagues many athletes. Many people assume that running and weightlifting don’t work well together. If done right, these two sports in conjunction can help you achieve your fitness goals. Read on to learn more about running and building muscle simultaneously.

The Short Answer: Yes

You can absolutely run while gaining muscle mass. The explanation as to how is a bit more complicated. You, or a personal trainer, have to come up with a program that works for you. With the right focus and determination, you’ll get the results you are looking for.

Timing Is Crucial

When devising your program, keep in mind the timing of your workouts. This will be crucial to your plan’s success. Let’s say you want to build lean muscle. If you run in the morning, be sure to eat a light breakfast beforehand. When trying to build muscle, you never want to work out on an empty stomach. You should have enough fuel to keep up with the intensity of your workouts. Do not plan a hard run and intense weight-lifting session back-to-back. This is ineffective and can lead to injury. If you must plan both on the same day, lift weights first and then run. Keep the sessions set at submaximal.

Does Running Burn Muscle Mass?

This is what stops many bodybuilders from running. There is a misconception that they’ll burn off all of their mass. Muscle mass doesn’t build as you run. But it also doesn’t burn. This will only happen if you run significant mileage, consume no protein, and stop going to the gym.

Program Suggestions

If you’re a weightlifter, running can benefit your performance. Improving your cardiovascular fitness can help you recover from tough workouts. Not used to long-distance? Start slow. Try sprints and interval training. Build your way up to shorter, faster routes. You can improve your running with good GPS measurements and attention to form. If you’re a runner, you can benefit from building muscle. You need a strong back, core, and hips. This improves form and prevents injury. Try strength training exercises that target these areas.

Dieting Is Key

Your diet is one of the most important factors. Eating the right foods will help you gain muscle while running. When starting to lift, runners make the mistake of eating too little. They don’t consume enough calories and quickly slim down. The low body fat percentage makes it hard to build mass. You should not be in a calorie deficit. Your body needs calories to grow, recovery, and adapt. If you don’t have enough fat, your body will resort to burning muscle. So what should you consume? Focus on eating plenty of protein. Chicken, fish, and eggs are good options. That being said, don’t ignore other food groups. You’ll need nutrients and vitamins for energy. Eat fruits, vegetables, and healthy carbohydrates. There are also supplements available. You can these to help protect and maintain muscle mass. Keep in mind that they aren’t the magic bullet. The key is to use them in combination with a healthy diet and exercise.

The Bottom Line

Keep in mind that, especially at first, each sport will affect the other. For instance, runners might see decreases in times. This is because your body has to adapt to these changes. Weight lifters can also be affected. If they’re training for a marathon, for instance, they may have to focus on maintaining mass rather than building it. At the end of the day, you can build a program that fits your needs. Each sport has its benefits and can help you reach your overall fitness goals.

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