When it comes to running, maybe you love nothing but the thrill of the wind in your face and against your body as you push through some of the most grueling workouts out there. From that steep, mile-long hill to leisurely runs along the beach shores, you love the simplicity and diversity that running brings to your life, all the while getting you into excellent shape!
That said, you are probably well aware that running offers plenty of physical benefits to your body. You also know that it works out your legs, but at the same time, you wonder just how much it does so? After all, it is not the same as doing leg-lifting exercises at the gym to directly target those hamstrings or calves, so you might be wondering if running builds leg muscles at all?
From this uncertainty, you do not have anything to fear: after all, we are here to help! Read on to learn more in this article on the extent running can build leg muscles, as well as get tips and tricks from us to get better at it. Soon enough, you will be running like a pro in no time.
Without further ado, let’s get right down to it!
To start, there are many reasons to start running in the first place, especially when it comes to your physical, even mental, health. It is not just about gaining muscle and looking good, but also aspects outside of them. We list just a few more benefits down below:
Considered one of the most “heart-benefitting” exercises out there in the aerobics field, running offers great advantages to your body’s cardiovascular system. Specifically, it targets the heart, for every time you run, it has to pump faster and harder in order for the oxygen-loaded blood to travel faster to the legs and body to move you forward. At resting state, it continues to beat strongly, thereby ensuring stable and consistent health.
Since you are expending a lot of energy each time from running, your metabolism increases, and even at resting state, it remains constant. That said, you are less likely to gain weight, and it gives you more of a reason to load up on good (but healthy) food, since it will burn right off!
What we have in running is known as a “runner’s high,” in which endorphins are secreted and flood your body during and after the workout. They are considered the body’s natural painkillers, while also giving you a sense of elatedness and relaxation after such a stressful, intense run. Although temporary, it is sure to boost feelings of happiness and accomplishment, which in the end motivates you to continue running and getting better at the sport.
While you might find it hard to believe, running does, to some extent, help to boost self-esteem. It does so through a combination of physical fitness and mental health: for the former, you get into excellent shape, which makes you feel strong and active, not to forget attractive by society’s standards when in public.
For the latter, you receive endorphins, as well as recognition from your family, friends, and running buddies, which makes you more outgoing and sociable. Having both good relations with the physical and mental halves of your body provides a balanced lifestyle, of which will sure to make you a more confident runner.
Considering that running is a form of aerobic exercise, it does indeed develop your leg muscles. From your thighs to your calves, you will see them start to change and become more accustomed to long runs the more you go at it.
However, at the same time if you were to inquire whether running makes the leg muscles look muscular, then that will widely depend on several factors. For instance, if you only perform aerobic exercise, i.e. running and nothing else, then you will soon start to develop a lean-muscle look, which makes you slim and offers a lean definition to your legs’ muscles. On the other hand, if you supplement them with weight training to bulk up, then you will have a bigger, broader look to that specific area.
If your goal is to get more-defined leg muscles (and not just from running alone), then you will have to supplement your runs with strength training. In other words, you will need to consider weights as means of bulking up, so that you can be well on your way to fantastically muscular legs.
Hence, here are some things you will need to look into to get started:
Besides working out, you will also need to change your diet if you want to see noticeable leg muscles. That means you will have to go for a surplus, rather than a shortage, of calories in your normal diet, so that it gives you more energy to work with when exercising. Protein (e.g. meats, beans) will be your best friend in this process, so load up!
Do not be afraid to go for the weights at your local gym. If this intimidates you, start small with calf raises before working your way up to squats. Anything from dumbbells to natural body weight will do, so you can be well on your way to a more-defined lower body.
Gaining leg muscle does not mean going all-out every single day: sometimes, you will need rest days to recover, for that is when the body repairs itself and comes back stronger for more workouts to be performed. Take it easy, and it will work out in the end.
While running itself does give you some leg muscles, it is a matter of supplementing it with a good diet and weight training to take it up another notch. Soon enough, you will be toned and happy with the results!
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