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Does Jogging Build Muscle?

    There’s no denying that jogging is great for your general health and all-around fitness: It burns calories and chips away your excess body fats. It also has unarguable benefits for joints, lungs, and cardiovascular system. But besides these advantages, can you make your legs and torso bulky and toned with jogging?

    Jogging doesn’t naturally build muscles due to its cardio nature. But if you make it short and intensive, it does grow some bulk in your quads, hams, and calves. Alternate between sprints, incline running, and strength training. Also, eat high-GI foods before and proteins after jogging.

    Read on to learn how jogging affects your muscles and how you can improve its benefits over its potential risks for muscles. You’ll learn how to build muscles with jogging and prevent muscle loss.

    What Muscles Get Involved in Jogging

    When jogging, you recruit your whole body muscles, including the core, leg, and arm.

    The hamstrings, for example, work to bend your knees backward, your quads work conversely to flex them to the initial linear stat, and your glutes sway back and forth as a result of moving your legs.

    Each time you bounce one of your legs up, your hip flexors move up and squeeze your lower belly. Your calves, fibularis muscles, and tibialis anterior also work in cooperation to trigger each of your leg swings.


    So, you may be asking, can you tone all these muscles while running, and if so, how?

    To answer that question, we first need to know how jogging affects the body.

    What Happens to Your Body When Jogging

    Jogging is an aerobic or cardiovascular activity, which means it’s best for weight control.

    Your heart rate enters the aerobic zone when you run, meaning more oxygen flows to your body to supply the needed energy to keep running. As a result, your metabolism spikes, and you start burning calories.

    At this moment, if your body has a calorie shortage already, or you prolong the running to the point that your body runs out of fuel, it starts burning your fat deposition instead of calories.

    Although excellent for those who want to shed weight, this process is bad for bodybuilders because they don’t usually have much stored body fat. As a result, their body may start using muscle fibers as a source of energy.

    So, an unthoughtful jogging style not only fails to build muscle mass but also wreaks havoc on the existing ones.

    Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to prevent that potential muscle loss and even encourage muscle gain through running.

    How to Build Muscle While Jogging

    A 2015 study suggests aerobic exercise like jogging can promote some skeletal muscle. But that only occurs if you apply some techniques:

    Eat Fat and Protein Before Running

    Taking a closer look at how your body loses muscles in the running, you’ll know it’s all about calorie deficit. So, first and foremost, you need to adopt a medium to high-calorie diet on the days you jog.

    Consume nutrients with a high glycemic index, such as rice, cereals, whole wheat bread, cookies, dried raisins, and dates just before the jogging session. This covers the energy needed for the whole activity and postpones the time your body will reach out to your reservoirs.

    Unsaturated fats like nuts and avocado sometimes take more time to burn than carbs. So include them as well.


    Yet, that only prevents burning muscles. If you want to build and tone muscles, also be conscious about your post-workout diet.

    After running, your body gets depleted of energy, so it can’t repair damaged tissue fibers, which is necessary for increasing muscle mass. So you have to meet its requirements, and the best way is to provide it with protein and carbs.

    Due to its amino acid content, protein is known to build muscle and is common among gym-goers. That’s because it helps repair the tiny micro-tears in your muscles.

    Ensure you eat about 1.2 to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This way, your muscle protein synthesis (MPS) surpasses their protein breakdown (MPB), leading to muscle gain.

    Best protein sources include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and beans.

    Shorten Your Running Period

    No matter how much you eat before and during jogging, your calorie intake may finally come to an end, forcing your body to exploit built-in supplies. So, keep your running duration to a minimum so you can achieve the advantages of jogging and steer clear of its pitfalls.

    Adapt Sprint Style

    Your muscles fire up through physical stress. But this kind of pressure doesn’t happen in a steady-state cardio exercise. In contrast, sprinting—an interval running in which you run at your top-most capacity for a short period—puts a lot of pressure on your muscles.

    The more you increase your pace in this vigorous phase of running, your muscles work harder and hence get stronger and bigger after a while. Studies also proved it could increase your skeletal muscles.

    So, the best way to convert your runs into muscle-building sessions is to perform them in a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) style.

    Just combine explosive bursts of running with short periods of low-intensity movements. Run for 1 minute as fast as you can, then switch to slow-running or walking for 2 minutes, and repeat the cycle. The best part is, you only need to perform this workout for maximally half an hour.

    Jog Up the Hills

    Another good way to emphasize quads, hams, and other muscles involved in running, is to add an incline to your workout.

    Running up a slope stimulates your muscles because while doing so, you fight against gravity to carry your own weight up—something that doesn’t happen while running on a flat surface. And this simulates the process of weight-lifting, exerting more stress on your body.

    Add Strength Training to Your Program

    Researchers proved mixing strength training with running can improve your endurance, sprint speed, and running economy. When you lift weights on some days and run on the other days, your body learns to use less energy to do a certain activity. It also improves the burden on your leg muscles, rendering them bigger.

    On the other hand, strength workouts are designed to build muscle mass, and their assistant to this process is indisputable.

    Squats, dumbbell step-ups, deadlift, leg press, pull-ups, plank leg lifts, Lunge, and box jumps are just a few exercises you can do to strengthen your leg muscles and recruit them while jogging.

    As an example, you can lift weights at the gym on odd days and go running on even days. Alternatively, you can jog early in the morning and do training activities in the same-day afternoon.

    Below, we’ll give you a workout sample to get a good balance of all the above techniques.

    Weekly Plan to Build Muscle through Jogging


    • Five sets of one-minute sprints followed by 2 minutes of slow running.


    • Three sets of 10 reps glute bridge.
    • Three sets of 12 reps dumbbell squats.
    • Three sets of 10 reps step-ups.
    • Twenty minutes of HIIT running: Pace and interval periods are up to you.

    Wednesday: Rest day


    • Six sets of 20-second hill sprints followed by walking periods of rest.
    • Three sets of 10 reps reverse fly.
    • Three sets of 10 reps bent-over row.
    • Three sets of 10 reps bench press.


    • One set of 15-minutes jogging up the hills.
    • One set of 15-minute backward running.

    Saturday: Rest Day

    Sunday: Rest Day

    In Summary

    Although jogging hits a lot of muscles, it doesn’t automatically build them. And if you do it inattentively, it can even drag down your already built bulk.

    However, with the right approach and nutrition, you can nullify this adverse effect and gain more muscles.

    All you need is to add incline to your running every often and mix it up with strength training. Add carbs, healthy fats, and protein to your diet, especially on running days. And don’t let your body lack energy while you run.

    Also, replace steady-state running with quick bursts of sprint and interval jogging.


    James Wright

    James (36) has been working out since he was 15 years old. He has a home gym where he pumps iron, does bodyweight workouts and boxing. He likes sharing his experiences with others who want to build a better physique.

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