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Fear of having too much leg muscles from running – justified or not?

Get bigger leg muscles by jogging – is that possible? Especially for women, this question is often the reason for beads of sweat on their foreheads. There is no question that regular endurance training improves fitness. But can this also build up muscles? And if so, do you have to be afraid that your legs could even become too muscular and massive? With this article I would like to provide clarity and at the same time address the necessity of the factors for muscle building.

Positive effects of regular running
Like any endurance or cardio training, running training also has numerous positive effects. The most obvious effect of endurance training is of course that it improves your endurance. Your stamina is increased, walking up the stairs in everyday life is easier and the psychological component in terms of relaxation and compensation for the often tough everyday work is by no means negligible.

But that’s not all guaranteed when it comes to running: Those who do running training strengthen their entire musculoskeletal system, for example. The trunk area and the lower back are strengthened. In addition to the muscles, this also includes tendons and ligaments. So if you sit a lot at work or have little exercise in general, you can create a balance through running training and ensure physical well-being. Repeated stress in the form of running training also makes the tendons and ligaments more resilient and therefore less prone to injuries.

It can therefore be said that regular endurance training can serve as a prophylaxis against muscle injuries. The cardiovascular system is also improved if you regularly lace up your jogging shoes. However, you should pay attention to a moderate pace. Jogging too excessively can also be harmful in the long run. The rule here is: less is more! The most important effect for many, however, is that you can burn extra calories. Then the schnitzel with chips from the day before is quickly forgotten.

Exactly how many calories you burn when you jog depends on many individual factors: weight, age, gender, running pace. A rough guide value can be 600-800 kcal per hour. If you want to determine your exact calorie consumption, you will find numerous ways to calculate this on the Internet or you can rely on a fitness tracker.

Basics of muscle building
Your training and diet are critical to muscle growth. First about training: muscles usually grow when they experience an unknown and increased load. As with running training, the same applies to muscle building training: The regularity of the load on the muscles is what makes the greatest attraction. Only those who exercise their muscles regularly will maintain more massive muscles in the long term. But how high should the load be during training?

If you’re looking to build muscle, you should activate between 60% and 80% of your maximum muscle strength. Typically this means that you can do 8-15 reps of a particular exercise. You shouldn’t train to failure here. With fewer repetitions – no matter how strenuous – the duration of the stimulus is too short and you train in the strength range. This is often used by powerlifters.

With more repetitions – no matter how many – the intensity of the stimulus is too low and your cardiovascular system is improved. With more than 20 repetitions (I claim even between 30 – 50) one speaks of a capillarization training, that means your smallest blood vessels in the body are further branched and can supply new, as yet unreached areas with nutrients. The growth of the muscle is, so to speak, a reaction in order to be better prepared for a new load and this reaction starts most strongly with the above-mentioned 60% – 80%. This hypertrophy effect is desirable in bodybuilders, for example. Of course, as mentioned above, this effect requires a certain regularity.

In addition to regular workouts, you also need a good, sport-appropriate diet. Above all, one must pay attention to a sufficient amount of protein intake. This is because this is the main component of muscles. When building muscle, we recommend approx. 1.5 g – 2.5 g per day as a rough guide for every kilo you weigh yourself. In addition, you should generally pay attention to an increased calorie intake. Since building muscle means more mass, you should also eat more than you normally burn. So there must be a calorie surplus. Without excess = no muscle building. It is therefore advisable to consume 300 (healthy!) More calories than usual for the desired muscle building every day.

Women in particular are often afraid of too many leg muscles. Here you can find out whether jogging really does build that many leg muscles.

Building muscle through running training
Now let’s get to the point. The fact is that running puts a lot of strain on the muscles in your legs. But it is also a fact that it is not a sport to build large muscle mass. So you shouldn’t worry about that in general. A look at an exceptional runner such as Eliud Kipchoge confirms this. He is extremely well-trained through his intensive training, but by no means a pumped-up powerhouse. We have actually already explained the reason for this. The stimulus that the muscles of your legs experience when jogging with a single step is too little to achieve large muscle growth.

Running with weight cuffs or a weight vest also makes no difference here. In addition, you burn some calories by jogging, which makes it more difficult to achieve a calorie surplus. So you would first have to re-supply the calories burned while jogging and also consume additional food to build up.

You can also limit muscle growth by avoiding an increased intake of proteins. However, you should not limit your protein intake too much, as every athlete should consume a certain amount of protein. This is especially true for endurance athletes and not only for ambitious muscle building athletes. After all, you want to have enough energy for your workout even during running training and not walk on your “gums”.

On the other hand, it must be noted that you cannot completely rule out building muscles in the course of improving your own fitness. That is what sport brings with it. However, the build-up is very small and is more in the direction of defining the leg muscles than building mass. In connection with running training, you do not have to be afraid of training your leg muscles that are too large.

With regular, moderate running training and the right, sport-appropriate diet, you can fully exploit the benefits of jogging for your health and do not have to worry about standing in front of the mirror as a muscle-packed package. What are you waiting for? Put on your shoes, get out in the fresh air and enjoy your workout.

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