If you want to be a good runner, you have to be a good runner. And that means you need muscle over your bones. It’s common for runners to be reluctant to build muscle mass — and weight training, for that matter, which helps you build that mass — but it has a lot of benefits.

For example, research suggests that strength training and building muscle can improve your performance and help prevent injuries. Building muscle can also help you live longer, According to research. And an study also finds a link between runners having leaner muscle mass and better bone density and mineral content.

Here’s everything you need to know about how runners can build muscle, how the sport of running helps with that process, and why lean muscle mass is helpful — and necessary — for runners.

How the body builds its muscles

Ready for a science lesson? “In simple terms, muscle hypertrophy, muscle building, is the response to muscle overload from an activity such as strength training,” explains Tom HollandCSCS, exercise physiologist, certified sports nutritionist and author of The Marathon Method and Swim, Bike, Run, Eat: The Complete Guide to Fueling Your Triathlon. “Muscle fibers are ‘damaged’ by the stress of resistance training, creating micro tears in the muscle fibers, and the body’s natural repair process includes increasing the size of the muscle fibers, and therefore the size of the muscle itself.”

But the body can’t rebuild itself – muscle is made of protein, explains Melanie Sulaver, MS, RD, CDN, New York-based sports dietitian. We need an adequate amount of protein in our diet to help build muscle.

“Muscle is built by positive protein balance, which means the body synthesises more muscle protein than it breaks down,” explains Brad SchoenfeldPh.D., CSCS-D, Professor of Exercise Science and Director of the Graduate Program in Human Performance and Fitness at Lehman College in the Bronx, New York. This means you need enough protein to help your body rebuild after a workout, when muscles need macronutrients to repair.

Why muscle is important for runners

It might seem counter-intuitive as a runner to have a lot of muscle on your body – the more muscle you have, the more you need to carry when you run. But it’s more important than you think, and runners need muscle for a variety of reasons.

According to a newspaper review Sports medicine, strength training — which you need to do to actually build muscle — can help improve sprint performance and running economy.

“Generally, sprinters need muscle to go faster, and endurance runners need muscle to go farther,” Holland says. “Muscles can also store energy, they can improve running economy, they stabilize and protect joints, and they help prevent injury, allowing you to train harder and run longer.”

Although all exercise puts pressure on the body and therefore forces it to build more muscle, certain types of training can help you build muscle more effectively than others.

How running aids in building muscle

“It’s a common myth that running ‘eats’ muscle tissue,” says Holland. But this is not the case. Running, indeed, can help you build muscle.

“Running is a weight-bearing form of cardiovascular exercise, involving forces two and a half to three times your body weight with each stride,” Holland says. “It will help build lower body muscles including glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, etc.”

However, running may not be the best form of exercise if your number one goal is to build muscle.

“Muscle building relies on progressively overloading muscle tissue, and that’s not easily achieved by aerobic-type exercise,” says Schoenfeld. “There may be slight increases in muscle size at the start of a running program for those who were previously sedentary, but these gains will stabilize quickly within a few months.” If runners are really looking to gain or build muscle, the best way to do it is outside of their sport.

How runners can build muscle outside of sport

According to research by Schoenfeld and other colleagues published in the journal Sports medicine, aerobic training does not promote the same skeletal muscle hypertrophy as resistance or strength training. “Resistance training is the primary intervention strategy for increasing muscle size,” says Schoenfeld.

To maximize the benefits of strength training on bodybuilding, another study of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health breaks down the specifics. It found that hypertrophy-focused resistance training was most effective when performed at a moderate intensity of around 60% to 80% of your one-repetition max or the weight you can lift for one. single repetition. (This means the weight should be hard and muscle-tiring.) For volume, aim for 3-6 sets, including 6-12 reps per set, and short rest periods of about 60 seconds between those sets. .

The study also states that muscle growth takes about six to 10 weeks to occur, so even if you start strength training today, know that it takes consistent practice and a decent amount of time to see muscle gain. .

Why your diet is important for building muscle

While resistance training is important for building muscle, as discussed earlier, you can’t ignore your diet, especially as someone who is constantly burning calories. When you run more than 80 km per week, you need to make sure that you are also consuming enough to support what your body is burning.

“Muscle is built primarily via resistance training, with a secondary contribution from diet, particularly by consuming enough dietary protein,” says Schoenfeld. Protein takes longer to break down as a fuel source, which means it won’t necessarily fuel your runs, but it’s the primary fuel for building muscle.

“Essential amino acids are used to build muscle protein, and consuming these essential amino acids through the diet is mandatory to maximize muscle gains,” says Schoenfeld. “The most important factor is getting enough protein on a daily basis. Recent search indicates that the estimated average protein requirements for endurance athletes are approximately 2.1 grams per kilogram of body weight per day, which is significantly higher than the recommended daily intake. For a 150 pound person, that’s about 143 grams of protein per day.

While when you eat isn’t as important, it’s also a good idea to make sure you spread protein intake throughout the day, says Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, sports dietitian for the Kansas City Chiefs, Carnegie Mellon University. athletics and founder of Active eating tips. “The more evenly you eat it — rather than minimal amounts early in the day and large amounts at night — the better.”

The body’s preferred source of energy when it comes to running, however, is carbs, followed by fat. “Carbohydrates are important because in the absence of adequate carbohydrates, the body must break down protein to provide energy to exercising muscles,” says Bonci. “So if you’re trying to increase muscle mass, minimizing carb intake isn’t ideal.”

The Importance of Recovery in Building Muscle

Another important component in building muscle is the time the body takes to repair micro tears made in the tissues. And that happens during another important part of your training plan: your recovery!

“Recovery is very important; if someone is underrecovered, their performance will suffer and over time they can become overtrained, which has a number of negative consequences,” says Schoenfeld, including the risk of injury and impairing your strengthening ability. muscular.

That’s why it’s important to incorporate recovery runs into your training plan and make sure you get enough sleep. “Sleep is your body’s way of recovering, so good sleep is important for maximizing recovery,” says Schoenfeld. Adults between the ages of 18 and 60 should aim more than seven hours of zzzs per night.

You might be wondering if things like eating protein before bed could also contribute to better or faster recovery. “The evidence that pre-sleep protein provides benefits is limited to higher protein intake versus lower protein intake,” says Schoenfeld. “There is insufficient evidence to indicate that pre-sleep protein intake is greater when daily protein intake is equaled.” But if a protein snack before bed helps you hit your daily quota for the muscle-building macro, then take this bite.

The basics on how to build muscle

Yes, there is a lot to consider when building muscle as a runner. It doesn’t happen overnight and takes time, but consistency is key.

“If you eat a balanced diet with adequate daily protein and commit to a comprehensive and consistent bodybuilding program, you’ll get your genetically best body, with muscle,” Holland says.

This content is created and maintained by a third party, and uploaded to this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content on piano.io