Most athletes and bodybuilding gurus argue that bodybuilding and running can’t go together. Naysayers will claim that you’ll run away your gains and your muscles will melt away. Running also puts too much stress on the joints of a weightlifter, which can increase the risk of injuries.
The million-dollar question is, are all these science-backed facts or just myths?
If you’ve been thinking that running can cost you your hard-earned muscle mass, think again because you might be missing out on many health benefits of a regular jog. Here’s how.
Muscles Are Unlike Fat – They Don’t Melt Away
The biggest fear of any bodybuilder is that if they run, they will lose muscle mass or at least will adversely impact their gains.
Made of three different types of fatty acids, fat is connected by glycerol. Our body needs a certain amount of fat to survive and function properly. Essentially, it is excessive energy generated from food and stored in the body for tough times. Tough times here means when your body is burning more calories than it’s receiving, it will start using some of the stored energy, i.e., fat.
On the other hand, muscles are of various types such as muscle tissues, skeletal muscles, cardiac muscles, etc. They constitute the bulk of the human carcass and have many essential functions to play. Just like fat, their volume can be increased, however, they don’t melt away – at least not as fast as fat will.
In other words, you can run freely without fearing loss of any lean muscle mass, but if you follow a low-protein diet or don’t do enough weight training, you can experience muscle loss. The obvious takeaway here is that if your diet and workout routine is good, you can rest assured running will not cause a muscle loss. Instead, it will improve your health, boost energy and stamina, and increase endurance.
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Running Can Help You Train Better
This might sound stupid, but there is a logical reason behind it. But before that, there is a reason that Arnold Schwarzenegger said that squatting is like “running a mini-marathon.” Okay, here’s the logical answer now: even an average bodybuilder is stronger than most people, but most lack endurance. This keeps them from breaking through the intensity barrier that can take the workout a notch up.
Running or even cycling can improve endurance, heighten lung capacity and improve the efficiency of heart function. Once your endurance is boosted, you’ll start noticing the difference in the weight room in terms of faster recovery between sets, especially when doing higher rep range.
Running Can Improve Overall Health
This is a no-brainer. No matter what your health goals are, running will help you get closer to your target. When you start running, try to get your blood work done regularly, and you’ll see your health markers improve right away. From your heart health to lung to cholesterol levels to blood pressure – everything will be better than before.
Run Like a Bodybuilder
At first, you might feel like a fish out of water. The good news is your stamina and endurance will build comparatively faster than a sedentary person because of your already active lifestyle. However, since you’ll be a few lbs. heavier than an average runner, you will need a running approach that is tailored to your body. It’ll be too much of wear and tear for your joints to run like a runner. Instead, you’ve to run like a bodybuilder. This means a good running strategy and a proper form.
Firstly, you’ll have to listen to your body and cope with the stress on your joints. To minimize this stress, a proper warm-up and cool down after the run is mandatory. Also, do exercises that will help you strengthen your hip flexors.
Running on tarmac or sidewalk puts a lot more pressure on your joints than running on a treadmill. In case you had a knee or leg injury in the past, approach the running lifestyle with extreme caution. Consult with your physician before your first run. In case you’re still healing from an injury, consider getting the best knee brace for a torn meniscus. You might not need knee braces if you never had an injury before, but they can be a godsend in preventing an injury if you already had one in the past.
Knee braces can help you improve posture, ease on arthritis pain, and reduce chances of reoccurrence of injury.
Those 30-50 extra pounds on your body as compared to a runner mean that having a correct stride and maintaining posture is more important. Avoid landing on your heels, or you’ll be putting too much pressure on knees, calves, and Achilles tendon. Try landing on the forefoot or midfoot, and then your heel should hit the ground. Your knee should be flexed at all times, especially when landing.
Unlike a runner who will take long strides, you should try to land with your feet nearly under your body. Slow, long distance runs are fun and also help you burn fat without putting any unwanted burden on the joints.
Now you know that running is bad for bodybuilders is nothing but a myth. You also know that running for a bodybuilder is different from running for an athlete. Also, a proper form is the key to get the most out of your run. To wrap things up, since running will consume extra energy, remember you need to eat a lot and eat often to get the best of both worlds, i.e., running and lifting.
Also, long, slow-paced running is more useful and less stressful. If your leg joints aren’t in the best shape, run on a treadmill or ride a bicycle instead. And don’t ignore the importance of a proper warm up and cool down. Don’t be surprised to see your endurance and stamina in the gym goes through the roof, and your health markers start to look better than ever before.
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