Is running slowing down your muscle gains?

Running – an enjoyable and beneficial activity. It’s a cardiovascular exercise which boosts your overall health and performance. But some people who want to gain muscle mass avoid cardio because they are afraid it will slow down their muscle gains. Is there a reason for worry? Should we stop doing cardio if we want to gain muscle? Or how much cardio should we limit ourselves to?

Balancing your workout

In order to reach the perfect balance, you should do various exercises. Aerobics should also be included because they have the potential to enhance the recovery of the damaged during the strength training muscle fibers because they promote the flow of the blood and enhance the
transportation of oxygen to your muscles. When they promote the circulation of blood they ensure that enough nutrients will reach the tissues of your body and that the toxins will be removed.

More details

Low-intensity running can be effective because it adapts your muscles to become more efficient.
Lower-intensity aerobic exercises can also increase the adaptiveness of your body to different training loads. So if you do slower and longer cardio, you may be able to adapt better to the high- intensity weight lifting sessions.

Aerobic exercises also can increase the capacity of the fast-twitch muscle cells which are necessary for the production of strength and power.
But you should be careful to correctly do longer and slower endurance workouts. And, of course, remember that if you have any joint problems (or are feeling joint pain while running) the long runs may do you harm. If you have such problems but you want to perform aerobic activities, choose swimming or cycling.

Still, cardio has the potential to slow down the muscle growth because it can interfere with the recovery between your weight training sessions. But this depends on how much cardio you are doing and how hard.

Exercise scientists have been studied the effects of combining strength training and aerobic exercises since the 1980s. They’ve found that if you do too much cardio on top of a muscle gain program the power, strength and size of your muscles can be compromised.

Of course, cardio has many benefits. It boosts the metabolism, makes you lose fat faster, improves the health of the heart and the fitness of the cardiovascular system. So you’d definitely want all of those benefits. And you can do this – you just need to find the perfect balance.

If your cardio training are in the range of 20-50 minutes for no more than three days per week, then scientists believe that the cardio won’t interfere with your strength training. But if you do more cardio (or of too high an intensity) you can compromise your muscle gain program. If gaining strength and muscle mass is your top priority, then limit yourself to the range we talk about above. If getting leaner is what you want to achieve, then you can increase the frequency (and the intensity) of your cardio exercises.

According to scientists the eccentric muscle contractions (those are the contractions in which the muscle lengthens) which occur during running can cause damage on your muscles. So long distance running may not be your best option.

But sprinting is something else. It’s type of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) which may maintain the growth of the muscles – or even boost it. But there is also something you should keep in mind. The interval training is efficient and effective but sprinting and high-intensity
interval training are much like the leg training so if you do leg training several days a week and sprinting (or other HIIT) several days per week, that’s simply too much. So don’t overtrain yourself but rather find the proper balance.

Also, if you run every day, this will deplete the levels of calories which are necessary in order to maintain your muscle mass. So it’s better to go running only 2-3 times per week, not daily. Some people suggest to keep your running session to maximum 45 minutes because after this your body starts burning the so necessary for the muscle building calories.


The topic of running and building strength and muscle at the same time is highly controversial. If you want to add some muscle mass, then running may be beneficial or harmful – depending on how much you do it and how hard. So try to find the right balance.


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