Many wonder where running will take them on their route to a desired fitness level or physique. There’s so much controversy out there as to whether running is beneficial for your health and if it builds muscle that it’s hard to know what’s right.

Here at we like to separate facts from fiction and give you the knowledge to go out and be the best version of yourself.

In this article we’ll answer your questions on what muscles running works, if running builds muscle, and the general pros and cons it brings.

What muscles does running work?

There’s five muscles you’ll primarily hit when you go out on a run. These are your calf muscles, quads, hip flexors, hamstrings and glutes.

This sounds great, but as with everything, running has its pros and cons when it comes to targeting these muscles.


Strength builds alongside cardiovascular health

Going out on a run is a great way of working one of the body’s most important muscles, the heart. Running is particularly better than other forms of cardio for getting your larger muscles moving and using your own bodyweight and endurance level to increase performance.

It was proven in a recent study that running just five to ten minutes a day is enough to make small changes to your heart’s health, which can go a long way.

Core muscles are worked

It you’re wondering what muscles running tones and if it’s for you, we’re here to confirm what you probably want to hear. Running helps to train your core! This includes the abdominal, lower back, torso muscles, pelvis, buttocks and hip muscles.

When running your body fights to keep your spine aligned, which is where all of these muscles kick in and get a good workout.

If you’re looking for a great way to nourish them following their hard work, you should check out our top four supplements for runners.

Muscles become more resistant to fatigue

Endurance running helps to develop the body’s slow twitch muscle fibers. These fibers utilize oxygen for fuel and can contract for longer periods, which extends their aerobic capabilities. In simple terms, running trains your muscle fibers to become more resistant to fatigue.


Increased risk of muscle injury

We all know that it doesn’t really matter what muscles running works if it results in injury. Many injuries in runners are caused by starting out too heavy and not stretching properly before and after a run. This can result in pulled muscles, runners knee or even torn ligaments, so it’s important to make sure all of your muscles are given a good warm up before you set off.

It’s important not to forget that running also uses the triceps and biceps through the swinging of your arms, so make sure to give them a good stretch too.

Muscles will not grow as fast

If you’re primarily using running as a tool to build muscle, or you’re running way more than you lift weights, you won’t see as much growth progress as those who are in the gym full time. Running is primarily an aerobic activity, but the use of your muscles may results in hypertrophy. It’s just important to know that you won’t see the same physique results as those on a different workout plan. Don’t worry, there are ways to work the muscles that running doesn’t.

The bottom line

Running is a great all rounder for working towards a healthy heart and strong body. It works many muscles throughout the body to build strength and tone. However, if you’re looking to achieve a specific muscular physique, you should limit your runs and focus more on time in the gym instead.

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