Incorporating running and weightlifting into a fitness regimen is surprisingly controversial.
Many weightlifters believe that it’s impossible to build muscle when you’re doing cardio regularly. But the truth is when applied correctly, combining running and weightlifting creates a well-balanced exercise regimen for overall fitness and health.
Of course, you can develop an impressive physique through weightlifting alone, but running has many benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s a great way to keep your heart and lungs strong while increasing your endurance and stamina in the gym.
If you’ve been treating cardio as an afterthought, you might want to reconsider. Let’s take a deep dive into how and why lifters should incorporate running into their routine.
Table of Contents
Is Running And Weightlifting A Bad Combination
As a lifter, you already know that strength training is vital for healthy bones and muscles. It increases your flexibility, aligns your posture, boosts metabolism, and offsets muscle imbalances.
But many lifters don’t realize that incorporating some form of cardio into their routine can actually multiply the effects of strength training. When you add a cardiovascular workout, you burn more fat, lower your heart disease risk, and encourage the release of feel-good hormones that slow cognitive decline.
And, how does this help you achieve your lifting goals? Incorporating regular cardio workouts into your routine increases your endurance and stamina, which means you can train longer and harder. That means you’ll have the potential to gain more size and strength.
Running is an excellent cardio workout for lifters because it can be done anywhere, and you don’t need additional equipment. There’s no learning curve, and it’s easy to adjust your run’s intensity by merely switching up your route.
Run-on the treadmill at the gym, hit the pavement, or head to the beach for a run anytime you want to switch up your routine, target different muscle groups, vary the intensity, or prevent boredom.
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Why Should You Lift Weights
When you do resistance training, your building lean muscle, which takes more energy to maintain.
This means that your body needs to burn more calories while resting to preserve the muscle mass you currently have on your body; fatty tissues don’t take as much energy to maintain.
Muscle will also boost your metabolism; a person that is mostly muscle will burn almost twice as many calories sitting on the couch watching Netflix compared to someone that has more body fat.
- Makes Life easier- Everyone knows that lifting weights will make you build muscle, but it also helps you perform daily activities easier. Walking up steps, picking your child up, moving furniture, or carrying every single grocery bag in one trip will all become effortless as you become stronger.
- Reduces your risk of becoming injured – when you start to build muscle, you will make the connective tissue, tendons, ligaments that help you move, bend, and articulate your joints.
- Decreases arthritis pain – When you strengthen the muscles and ligaments surrounding your joints, it will help tighten and protect these joints from high impacts when you walk, run, or jump.
- Helps improve your balance and flexibility – The loss of muscle mass will lead to you not being able to balance or hold yourself up as you get older. This will lead to weight gain and injury. As you complete strength training exercises using your full range of motion, it will increase your flexibility.
- It will help you play a sport – If you play basketball, you can work on your lower body to jump and run faster. If you play baseball, you will focus on your upper body to help your follow-through during your swing.
Is Running Bad For Weightlifting
The answer you receive is going to depend on who you ask.
If you ask the old-timer at your gym, he’s going to tell you that you shouldn’t do any cardio at all while trying to build muscle.
If you ask a younger person like me, I’m going to tell you that when done correctly, the combination can and will be very effective.
The biggest hurdle is making sure that you still maintain a calorie deficit; if you slip into a calorie deficit too often, you can lose muscle.
The point of adding more cardio into a weightlifting routine is to make sure that you’re not adding too much excess fat.
Running is perfect for keeping a lean physique and building your stamina so that you can hit the weights longer.
Can You Build Muscle While Running
Many people don’t realize that most of the muscles used while running are eccentric, which puts the most strain on the body.
It’s been proven that shorter high-intensity runs will build lower body muscles, but longer runs will hinder your results.
This question can mean two things.
The answer I just gave you was if you’re wondering if the actual act of running will build muscle.
The other way this could be taken is can you build muscle during a weightlifting regimen while running on the side.
The answer to this is yes also.
You have to keep track of your calories however, there is a thin line between a calorie surplus and and a deficit.
Too much cardio and you could lose muscle, not enough and you could gain too much fat and still build muscle but not have any definition.
How Many Days A Week Should I Lift Weights
The type of training will determine how many days you workout.
If you’re doing full body work resistance training you’ll only train two to three days a week, since you’ll have to give your entire body time to recover before training again.
If you’re isolating individual muscles every day then you’ll be lifting five to six times a week.
As with any exercise, you can still expect to have sore muscles after a while. Fortunately, there are many products you can buy online that help alleviates sprains, muscle pain, or minor arthritic and rheumatic pains.
When Should You Lift
Individual lifestyles, schedules, and personal preferences are going to answer this question.
I hate working out in the morning, so I always lift after work.
I know other people who hate working all day to come home and lift weights.
Most people end up training whenever they can fit it into their daily responsibilities.
The only difference it will make is whwther or not you’re tied and not that motivated later in the day after work or when you first wake up.
If you find yourself having to lift when you’re not that motivated or tired try having a shot of espresso, it works great.
How Often Should You Run While weightlifting
This will depend on your goals; if you’re trying to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the terminator, then you’re going to want to run less.
If you’re trying to add a little size but want to keep your fat stores at the lowest point possible, then you’ll want to run more often.
Your metabolism will also determine it; the quicker you burn calories, the harder it is to stay within a calorie surplus.
Make sure to account for this when adding cardio, keep track of your weight to see if you’re adding or losing pounds every week. If you start to lose weight, you’ll want to cut back on running or eat more calories every day.
Do You Need To Lift Weights That Will Make Me Run Faster
If you’re going to start lifting weights, you shouldn’t target specific muscles for individual goals.
You need to train your entire body, and over time, as you become stronger and faster, whatever goal you had in mind will be met.
You don’t want only to train your legs and neglect your upper body; you’ll be the healthiest and most potent when your entire body is in peak physical shape.
Satisfy Your Drive To Compete
Sure, adding an inch or two to your biceps is a reward in itself. But, unless you’re into competitive bodybuilding or powerlifting, the average lifter doesn’t see a whole lot of competition. Adding running into the mix is a great way to satisfy your drive to compete.
It shouldn’t be hard to find several races every year, with many of them being close to home. Races not only give you a goal to work towards, but they also give you opportunities to compete against other runners at your skill level and mark your progress.
How to Incorporate Running into Your Weightlifting Regimen
Making time for running in your weightlifting schedule can be a challenge. But the good news is, adding some cardio into your regimen is better than not doing any at all. Simply adding short runs at the end of a moderate weightlifting session a couple times a week can be beneficial.
Keep in mind that whichever workout you do first will get your best focus and energy. Since your primary goal as a weightlifter is to build strength and muscle, always lift weights before you run. However, if your main goal is to increase your overall endurance, run first and strength train after.
Either way, you’ll perform best if you allow at least six hours for recovery in between workouts. So, if you lift weights in the morning, go for a run after work. And, if you lift weights nearly every day, add in runs on your upper body or easy days to give your leg muscles a break.
Remember, most athletes require a full day to recover after an intense workout before they head back to the gym. Likewise, your hardcore weightlifting days aren’t ideal for squeezing in a run.
Be sure to wear the right shoes for each activity to reduce the risk of injury. Each sport requires a different level of support and cushion. And, combining both sports means you’ll be working your body harder, so prioritize sleep to help your body recover.
How Heavy Should You Lift
Warm up sets should be 25 to 40% of the total weight you use for that workout.
For example, if you’re about to do squats and you use 200 pounds you should do 5 warm-up reps using 50 to 70 pounds. This is to make sure that the exact muscles you’re going to use during the workout are loose and ready to work.
If your goal is to build strength you’ll want to pick a weight that will allow you to do six or fewer reps.
For example, if you’re doing dumbbell curls you would pick a heavy enough dumbbell that you would
Is Weight Lifting Expensive
This depends on how you want to start lifting weights
- Buy a gym membership- this will cost you between $10 and $50 a month
- Buy and build your own home gym -This will costs hundreds or thousands depending on what type of equipment you want.
- Don’t spend anything- solely focus on bodyweight exercises.
Each one of these options have their pro and cons.
Gyms are great if you can motivate yourself to go, deal with the crowds, and the people that don’t understand gym etiquette. You also don’t have to worry about buying and building your gym equipment at home or taking up the room to store it.
Putting a home gym in your house gives you the benefit of being able to work out whenever you want without leaving the house, but this can also be a problem if you have a hard time dragging yourself off of your comfy couch.
You also need to have enough room to make space for your gym and a budget large enough to buy what you need to start.
Bodyweight exercises are free, don’t take up anyroom, you don’t have to travel anywhere to do it.
The one con to this is you will eventually hit a plateau where you’ll need to free eights to increase your resistance, and it is impossible to isolate certain muscle with bodyweight exercises alone.
Should You Run On Days That You Lift Weights
You can do both activities in the same day and it has actually been tested which exercise is best to do first and the outcome was surprised me.
If you run before lifting it will increase your endurance and cardiovascular health putting you in the perfect mode for lifting.
Strength training first will increase your body’s metabolism leaving you to burn more calories during your run.
It basically comes down to if you want to increase your endurance, perform your cardio training first, but if you want to build lean muscle and strength lift weights first.
Example Of A Running / Weightlifting Routine
Here’s a sample schedule to give you an idea of how to combine both activities. Of course, what works for one person might not work for you. Adjust the routine according to your goals and the amount of recovery time your body needs to perform at its best.
Day One: Upper Body Weightlifting in AM/ Moderate Run in PM
Day Two: Easy Run
Day Three: Lower Body Weightlifting
Day Four: Recovery Day
Day Five: Upper Body Weightlifting in AM/ Moderate Run in PM
Days Six: Lower Body Weightlifting
Day Seven: Recovery Day
Nutrition Tips for Improved Energy, Endurance, and Recovery
Your body will be working even harder when you add running into your strength training regimen. Also keep in mind that weightlifting raises your basal metabolic rate (so you’ll burn more calories at rest) and running burns a ton of calories during the actual workout.
Be sure to give your body the additional fuel it needs by eating enough calories to maintain your energy levels and a healthy weight. Continue to focus on a high protein diet to build muscle but add in more carbs to give your body additional energy for running.
If you’re serious about weightlifting, you’re probably already taking some supplements. However, adding some specialized supplements for runners could help to speed up recovery times and increase your endurance. Here are a few to consider:
- BCAAs: If you’re not already taking Branched Chain Amino Acids, consider incorporating them into your running/weightlifting regimen. They’re great for reducing muscle soreness and helping the muscles to recover more quickly overall.
- L-Carnitine: If you’re looking for a supplement to fuel tired muscles and slow fatigue during weightlifting or running, you can’t go wrong with L-carnitine. Marathon runners and other endurance athletes swear by its ability to reduce muscle damage and optimize recovery.
- Omega-3s: Omega 3s are ideal for both weightlifters and runners because they support joint health and muscle contraction. They also fight inflammation, swelling, and pain after a tough workout.
Combining running and weightlifting is an excellent way to create a well-rounded fitness routine. You’ll have more power, fewer injuries, and be healthier overall. And, switching things up by adding in a run a few times a weak will overcome boredom and burnout, which is a huge benefit all on its own.