Running Away from Gains

JUST CALL ME SPEED!

Not to brag, but I’m pretty fast. Didn’t you see the title?

Can Running Cause Muscle Loss
Just call me speed!

You may have heard me mention several times that in my beginning days I was pretty into my running. Running wasn’t necessarily my goal, but it’s what I had always done when it came to working out. So I directly translated all of my previous experience of gym class and magazine articles into my workout regimen

I was running, sprinting, walking, and anything else I could do to get some extra cardio in. Late one night after a long run, I just happened to stroll upon an article on a weight lifting site. I didn’t see anything besides a clustered group of words, “Running Causes Muscle Loss”.

Running is Bad for Gains?

Now just wait one moment. Ever since gym class back in school we were told that running is a great way to stay in shape. Why else would they make us run just about every day (besides being cruel). And now you want to tell me that running is hindering my gains?

I’m so angry I could scream! Not to mention the fact that I had been running every single day since I started lifting. Back at that time, beginning-lifter-me was completely confused and shocked at this revelation. What now?

Where Do I go from Here?

No seriously, where do I go from here? If what I was doing was causing me issues since day 1, what should I do now?

I stopped running right then and there. I didn’t complete a fast paced walk, I didn’t run, I didn’t even sprint. In my mind, it definitely wasn’t worth losing muscle mass over sprinting. Turns out, that’s a bad idea when it comes to fat loss. They second I took out my cardio was the second I started putting on more fat than usual.

So what should I do?

DON’T PANIC

Can Running Cause Muscle Loss
Read the sign.

The key is to not panic and keep saying everything is going to be okay (because it is). Running isn’t a hindrance on any workout when performed correctly.

Can you put on muscle mass while running? Yes.

Can you lose muscle mass while running? Definitely yes.

First things first, you need to decide what your goal is going to be. Either A) to put on mass, or B) lean out fat (for this sake, we’re going to consider fat-loss and endurance running the same).

In regards to both, there are two key options to consider in regards to fat loss while maintaining muscle mass. Here are some great options:

For Muscle Gains

Take a look at a professional sprinter. These guys and gals are jacked to the core. They have legs of steel and big muscles even though they run as a professional. So how do they do it?

It has been proven that sprinting intensely actually increases muscle mass. The key to running and retaining muscle mass it to keep it at high intensity for a short amount of time. It takes time to be successful, but try spring “all-out” for 4-10 reps. You are going to feel tired at the end of each spring, but you can’t beat fats, all-out short sprints are the best for preserving/building muscle. Just do your best to spread out your cardio between your lifting, and you’re golden.

Can Running Cause Muscle Loss
Sprinters not only maintain, but gain muscle.

For Fat Loss

Looking at the other end of the spectrum, for fat loss you should be running more. However, if you’re looking to lose fat while maintaining muscle mass, you shouldn’t even be on the treadmill. In fact, you should be on the stationary bike.

Why the stationary bike? It’s been scientifically proven that running causes far more muscle loss than cycling. Due to the range of motion when it comes to cycling, a wide range of motion utilizing the knees and hips, strength and gains aren’t as easily impaired. So for fat loss while maintaining muscle, try to ride the cycle bike intensely for 20 minutes. This will help fat loss while maintaining muscle.

IN CONCLUSION

Running can be detrimental for gains. However, running can also be beneficial for muscle gains. The best way to go about running or cardio is to decide upon your goals and adjust your workouts accordingly. Add your cardio into your training regimen; just be sure to give yourself ample time between workouts to maximize benefits. What’s the best way to gain muscle and lose fat?

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!

Why Isn’t My Running Program Putting on Muscle? Help!

I’VE BEEN WORKING OUT…WHERE’S MY MUSCLES?

If you’ve read any of my Beginner’s Journey blog series (which THANK YOU by the way if you have) you would know that I started my serious training as a New Year’s resolution. No, this isn’t my tragic story of how I really screwed up my puny arms, this is 6 months in the future when I decided to truly work hard on my training.

Problem is, I still had no idea what I was doing (big shocker there).

Sure, I knew how to watch my food intake and what foods I needed to eat over the others. However, I didn’t know the essentials to building muscles. So what did I do?

I Ran…

…I ran a lot.

What can I say? That’s all I knew how to do! You don’t have to look up a “how-to” guide on how to get on a treadmill and not fall.

why is my running not putting on muscle
Totally not me…maybe…

The apartment complex that I was living at during this time had a rinky-dink treadmill that was perfect for a paper weight (You thought I was going to say running, huh? Jokes on you!) Though it was terrifying, it did great for a beginner like me. So in my trusty shorty-shorts (I feel like I’ve mentioned them in every story so far…) and beat up off-brand shoes, I ran to my heart’s content.

It was great, I was running consistently six nights a week really pushing myself to get better times. There was only one problem…

I Wasn’t Putting on Muscle

Don’t get me wrong, I was losing fat and my legs were getting toned. However, my goal wasn’t to be a marathon runner, it was to be the next Terminator (please don’t come after me for copyright infringement!). So why wasn’t my running routine putting on muscle for me? I mean, technically it should be putting on huge amounts of muscle since it’s working out…right?

Well, yes and no.

Yes, running is working out. In fact, running is perfect for your heart, legs, and lungs. At the same time, it’s not too good if you’re looking to put on pounds of lean mass and muscle. You see, when you’re running your body is utilizing its glycogen storage to help fuel your body. Too much running and you run through your storage. Sadly that means not as much muscle mass.

HOW DO I TURN THIS AROUND!

I wasn’t putting on muscle like I wanted to but I was getting leaner. All in all there were really no negative aspects of what was happening. But I wanted to get bigger by putting on muscle!

So I turned it around by hitting the weights (not with my fists, that would hurt and is counterproductive).

I started with simple circuit workouts, I was a beginner so I really just wanted to get my body used to the work rather than push it to the limits. I was doing everything from dumb bell chest workouts, to lat pulls for my back, to leg extensions for my quads.

why is my running not putting on muscle
Definitely me this time.

And How Did That Work Out For You?

It worked out great! Eventually I switched over to a better regulated workout plan instead of the circuit plan, but it was a great start to my muscle building!

I was shocked at the small amount of weight that I could lift in the beginning. For real, it was sad. At the same time, I was shocked at how quickly I was able to build upon my practices and habits to where I was lifting more weight and more reps during my workouts.

Not only that, but I was gaining muscle at a better pace than when I was running. Again it was a win-win situation, but changing my routine was definitely the right way to go.

IN CONCLUSION

Running is not meant to build muscle the way that I wanted to. Running is great for toning your legs, building on your cardiovascular health, and training your lung endurance. However, I wouldn’t trade running for a consistent amount of time before I actually switched over to a weight lifting program. From running I was able to shed a few pounds and see which parts of my muscles groups that I needed to work on the most. Who knows what would have happened if I didn’t work on a running program before a lifting program.

In hindsight, it was great that I started running before lifting; it just wasn’t a part of the goals that I was looking for at the time. If you’re running into the same issues with your workout plan (no pun intended) try taking the heavy cardio out of your training, I assure you that you will see the difference.

You know what would have saved me lots of time and headache? This:

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!

why is my running not putting on muscle
Next step, this barbell!