Does Running Help Build Muscle

As someone who has been an avid runner for many years, I can personally attest to the benefits of running when it comes to building muscle. There is a common misconception that running only helps with cardiovascular endurance and weight loss, but it actually has a significant impact on muscle development as well.

The Science Behind Running and Muscle Growth

When you engage in any form of cardiovascular exercise, such as running, your muscles are constantly working to support your movement. This repetitive stress on the muscles leads to microscopic damage to the muscle fibers. In response to this damage, your body initiates a process called muscle protein synthesis, where it repairs and rebuilds the damaged muscle fibers.

This repair and rebuilding process is what ultimately leads to muscle growth. When you consistently engage in running or other forms of aerobic exercise, your body adapts by increasing muscle protein synthesis, which results in stronger and more developed muscles over time.

Running for Muscle Building: The Role of Intensity and Duration

While running in itself can help build muscle, the extent of muscle growth depends on various factors such as the intensity and duration of your runs. Higher-intensity runs, such as sprints or hill sprints, place a greater demand on your muscles and can lead to more significant muscle growth.

Additionally, the duration of your runs also plays a role in muscle development. Longer runs, such as distance running, can lead to a greater release of growth hormone, which promotes muscle growth. However, it’s important to note that excessive endurance running may lead to muscle loss due to increased cortisol levels, so it’s crucial to find a balance that works for your body.

Supplementing Running with Strength Training

While running is undoubtedly beneficial for muscle growth, it’s important to note that it primarily targets the muscles of the lower body, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. To ensure overall muscle balance and development, it’s essential to incorporate strength training exercises that target the upper body as well.

Strength training exercises, such as weightlifting or bodyweight exercises, help to stimulate muscle growth in areas that running may not directly target. By combining running with strength training, you can achieve a well-rounded and balanced physique.


In conclusion, running is not just a great form of exercise for cardiovascular health and weight management, but it also plays a significant role in muscle development. Through the process of muscle protein synthesis, running stimulates the growth and repair of muscle fibers, resulting in increased muscle strength and size over time.

However, it’s important to consider factors such as the intensity and duration of your runs, as well as supplementing with strength training exercises, to ensure balanced muscle development. So, if you’re looking to build muscle while enjoying the numerous benefits of running, lace up your shoes and hit the road!