Can running build your muscles?
When most people think about running on a treadmill they think of it as a purely cardiovascular activity, one in which their endurance and aerobic ability are challenged as they do their best to keep moving for 30 minutes without a break.
Well here’s something you may not have considered before, running can actually work your muscle too, and in this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the muscles you will work when running on a treadmill.
We’ll start with the obvious ones.
The quadriceps (quads) are the big muscles on the front of your thigh and they work extremely hard when you’re walking or running, especially if you add an incline to the treadmill.
Strong quads are essential for much of what we do in everyday life, and whether you’re walking down the street, running for the bus, or making your way up a flight of stairs, your quads will help you out. Strong quads are also very important as you age and could play a vital role in how well you move in your later years.
The Hamstrings are the big muscles down the back of your upper leg and are responsible for helping your hip and knee move when walking, running, squatting, or jumping. They’re extremely important, and unfortunately one of the most common and problematic injuries most sports people face. Strong and flexible Hamstrings could improve your range of motion and by strengthening the muscle, you can help to protect it against future injuries.
These small but powerful muscles are on the back of your lower leg and are there to support you when you move. They act as stabilizers when active and they help you to ‘push forward’ when walking or running.
A great way to target the calves and work the muscles harder is to use the treadmill on an incline. That’ll put more pressure on the muscle and help them to get stronger.
What most people don’t know about the glutes (the butt) is just how important a role it plays in physical activity. Whether it’s giving you the strength to push off and run faster or helping you to generate more power, so you can jump higher, the glutes are an essential muscle group for the majority of physical exercise, which is why it’s so important that you train these when using a treadmill.
For some reason when we think of training muscles in the gym, people don’t think of the heart. Well, the heart is arguably the most important muscle you can train, and the treadmill is one of the best ways to do it.
Completing cardio-based exercise strengthens the heart, helps it to become more efficient at pumping blood around the body, which in turn, helps you to be a stronger, healthier individual.
A strong and healthy heart will work more efficiently, helping you to perform at your best when exercising or competing, but it can also help to protect you against a life-threatening illness, such as heart disease and high blood pressure.
Normal walking or running will help you train your heart, but for maximum effect try increasing the intensity by using interval training or performing sprints.
Both methods will sufficiently challenge your body while helping to strengthen the heart.
When you think of core exercise, most people think of crunches, sit-ups, and planks. However what you might not realize is that many other activities, such as running, do actually work the core, just perhaps not how you think.
It’s not just about the 6 pack muscles, there’s actually a lot more going on. Your core isn’t just there to help you look good at the beach, the core also helps to stabilize and support your body with everything you do, from walking upstairs to carrying your groceries, even down to how easy you find it to bend down and tie your shoes.
Fortunately running on a treadmill is a great way to strengthen and stabilize your core without requiring any crunches or sit-ups.
Due to how your body moves when running, with slight twists and turns, and because of the level of balance required to keep you on your feet when running, the core is actually working extremely hard whenever you run.
The constant challenge is great for building more strength and balance and for helping to keep you strong.
Over time this will help with your posture, your exercise performance, even how well you breathe, all essential things for when you get older.
How to Get the Best Results
To get the best results from your treadmill workout, and truly work your muscles, you should be sure to try different training variations.
Simply hoping on the treadmill and running at a steady pace for 30 minutes isn’t enough to see long-term change and improvement. Instead, you should focus on challenging yourself in new ways.
Running on an incline (replicating hill sprints) is a fantastic method of making your runs more difficult. An incline will add extra stress and pressure to your quads, glutes, calves, and core and it will challenge you to work harder, which will also help you to strengthen your heart and improve your endurance.
Another method, which produces similarly impressive results, is interval training. It’s extremely easy to perform intervals on a treadmill, probably easier than if you were running outside, and the benefits are great.
Interval training is the ideal way to burn more calories, challenge your muscles to work harder and more powerfully in addition to helping you become a faster, stronger, more competent runner.
By adding inclines and intervals into your sessions, you’ll see much better results faster than if you were simply jogging at a comfortable pace.
Is Running Enough?
Some runners avoid lifting weights as they feel they can sufficiently develop and strengthen their muscles by simply running more. Others avoid weights as they feel adding muscle will impact their runs.
Here’s the truth, as great as running is for improving your body, all runners should still look to add regular resistance training into their schedule for the simple fact that lifting weights allows you to put different loads and pressures on your body that you can’t do by running alone.
It also offers you an alternative way to target your muscles, without it impacting your knees, hips, or joints, and here’s the best part, adding weights to your training routine won’t instantly make you bigger, it’ll just make you stronger. Sure, you might notice more muscle definition and your biceps might pop a little more than they used to, but the only way you’ll actually get bigger will be if you eat more than you’re supposed to and make weight training your primary form of exercise.
Whether you’re a runner wanting to know more about which muscles you’re targeting or you’re new to fitness and want to know If treadmill workouts are worth your time, you should now have a better understanding of how running can impact your body and why it’s so beneficial.
Running is a fantastic form of exercise that has whole-body health and fitness benefits and the sooner you grab your running shoes and hop on the treadmill, the better. When you do you’ll see a range of benefits in your health, fitness, body fat percentage, and strength.
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