what muscles does running work

What Muscles Does Running Work? We Have Answers!

For you as a runner, you are probably well-aware that running makes you a healthy and fit person. From the early-morning workouts at the crack of dawn to the cool, evening jogs around your neighborhood, you also happen to enjoy doing it as much as possible during your free time, all the while working out the muscles in your body.

That said, you probably know that running works out your legs, but you might be surprised to know that it works out even more than that! With that said, in this article we will tell you just what muscles does running work, as means of giving you an idea of what to expect the next time you choose to go out for a run. We will be answering some of your frequently-asked questions on this subject, as well as give you tips and tricks on how to maximize the benefits from it. Soon enough, you will be faster and stronger than ever before.

Without further ado, let’s get started!


What are the health benefits to running?

Running is not only beneficial for your physical health, but also for your mental one. Here, we offer just a few reasons as to why you should run for your health:

I. Builds strong bones and muscles.

This point comes as a no-brainer, but it is certainly true that running builds up resistance in your body, thereby strengthening your bones and muscles. Not only that, but also it makes you less susceptible to problems such as a broken bone or a pulled muscle, just because you are actively moving at all times when exercising.

2. Improves cardiovascular health.

Besides enhancing your muscles, running can also improve your cardiovascular system, especially the heart: running makes it stronger by requiring it the pump harder and faster to transport more blood and oxygen to your legs and body as means of moving forward. Even in its resting state, the heart pumps stronger and healthier than if you do not run at all.

3. Maintains a healthy weight.

Running is an aerobic sport, meaning that it relies a lot on the aerobic system in the body, i.e. requiring oxygen to achieve your goals in the activity at hand. From running, it helps to burn off a good amount of calories and fat, since you are using a lot of your body to get moving. As a result, chances are you will lose weight or otherwise maintain a healthy one to keep you fit and active in the long run.

4. Improves your mood/spirit.

Aside from benefitting you in the physical sense, running can also do so mentally by lifting your spirits when you are feeling down. Running triggers what are known as endorphins, e.g. chemicals in your body which give you that calm, elated feeling. It is also known as the “runner’s high,” and it makes you feel good about yourself after working out.

5. Makes you more outgoing.

Especially if you tend to run with others, doing so can help you establish meaningful relationships with those who also like to run. Having someone to support you along the way can make for a beneficial workout, for you will have someone to push you to run harder and faster than before. The same goes for you, in relation to your running buddy as well!

Which muscles does running work?

Now that you have a general idea of the physical and mental benefits to running, you might be curious in knowing which muscles does running work. That said, we have a few of the important areas of the body listed below, for your reference:

1. Abdomen.

Believe it or not, running works out your abs. Considering that you breathe heavily when you run in order to obtain more oxygen into your system, your core muscles contract harder, thereby whittling down your waistline over an extended period of time.

2. Calves.

Within the calf muscles, the gastrocnemius and soleus get worked out a lot, especially when running uphill or on inclines. They are constantly flexed whilst running, so expect to get large, attractive calves after some time!

3. Gluteals.

If you are looking for a workout to tone your butt, then running is right here for you. Gluteal muscles work to constrict and contract with every step you take, and soon enough can get your butt nicely built and sculpted for your personal interests.

4. Hamstrings and Quadriceps.

Situated at the back of the thighs, hamstrings consist of the biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus which flex the knees and move the leg back for a mid-stride appearance, thereby making the mechanisms able to function. Quadriceps are at the front, helping the body drive forward with ease.

5. Hip flexors.

Hips are a tricky area, especially since they are difficult to target if you have any problems with it. Regardless, running can strengthen hip flexors to keep them rotating and functioning well over time. They help to contract muscles when in motion, striding from one step to another.

For some more benefits to running, check out this video here: 

How can I maximize my running workouts?

If you are thinking about getting faster and stronger from your usual runs, then here are a few things you can do to help you out:

  • 1. Vary the workouts. Even if you are a long-distance runner, it can be boring running at the same speed and mileage every day. That said, aim to switch up the workouts with fartleks or more-challenging terrain, such as trails and soft sand. It conditions your body to adapt and get stronger, in that respect.
  • 2. Engage in strengthening and stretching activities. Running should not be the only thing you do for staying fit: in fact, lifting weights and doing yoga also help you remain healthy, and surprisingly helps improve your running by building resistant and flexible muscles.


Overall, running builds a variety of muscles in your body, all of which contribute to your health. From abs to gluteals to quadriceps, there is much to work out while running!

Feel free to comment and share! Happy Running! 

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