Adding Running to your Gym Routine

Join the conversation


Why Gym Goers Should Add Some Running to Their Routine

We get it – you love lifting. And bodybuilding is a great focus – it builds strength, helps you maintain muscle as you get older, and of course makes you look good! But there is life beyond the weights room… and some of it is outdoors.

Running and bodybuilding might not be natural partners in crime. But hang on a minute before you dismiss the idea. There’s running, and there’s running. You don’t have to train for a marathon to get plenty of benefits from adding some running into your routine. And the best part? It won’t impact on your gym performance at all!

Here’s how – and why – to add some running in alongside your lifting.

6 Benefits of Running for Lifters

Heart health

Any form of cardio will lower your risk of heart disease and increase the efficiency of your cardiovascular system from heart to blood vessels – and running is great CV.

Prolonged endurance

Running extends your body’s ability to train and therefore boosts your growth potential. If you can run, you can do a longer set of squats, and recover better too.

Increased hormone release

Running (especially sprints and hill reps) boost your body’s output of key anabolic hormones (as well as strengthen blood vessel health), all of which will help you grow muscle.

Calorie output

Obviously, running burns calories. This is good news if you like to eat more food. Run more = eat more = stay leaner. Pretty simple.

General physical preparedness (GPP)

GPP has its roots in training periodisation for elite level athletes, but we can all take a leaf out of this book. GPP means working on everything, not just strength. Improve your speed, endurance, flexibility, and skills to become a more well-rounded athlete.

Athleticism and agility

Don’t know about you, but we kind of like feeling athletic and agile. Bodybuilders can too easily fall into the trap of being solid lumps of mass. Why not be muscular, strong, and more agile! Get some more spring in your step.

What Kind of Running Is Best?

HIIT or LISS? Or – in running terms – sprints or endurance running?

As with any cardio, the best form is whatever you prefer. So, if HIIT hurts your knees, or you find it takes too long to recover, do LISS (aka jogging). But in an ideal world, we’d all be sprinting a couple of times a week. Sprints – HIIT running – is superior for metabolic response, hormone output, and transfers over better to your lifting, too.

Think sprint intervals (ideally on soft ground like a field or football pitch), track workouts, or hill reps.

The only caveat to this is recovery. If HIIT running puts too much strain on your recovery capabilities, and you find it impacting your gym sessions, switch to gentler running. Over time, you might be able to throw in some sprint intervals.

Won’t Running Hurt My Gains?

No – as long as you are eating adequate calories and recovering properly. If you can free up 2-3 x 30 minutes for a run with sprint intervals, or for a hill session, or for a fast-paced speed run, your lifting should only see positive effects. It’s probably

3 Reasons to Run in Summer

Anywhere, any time

Cardio is cardio but running has one incredible plus point – you can do it anywhere and anytime. No specialist kit needed, no venue necessary. You can do it at home, on holiday, away with work. All you need are shoes (and bra if you’re a woman!) and a route. No excuses!

The competitive edge

One of the great things about running for bodybuilders is that it can be competitive if you want it to be. The same can’t be said for – say – swimming, boxing, or rowing. Anyone at all can enter a local 5K race. Parkruns are brilliant – free, friendly, and open to all. See if your town has one and get involved!

Get outdoors

The benefits of outdoors exercise are widely acknowledged. Stress relief, Vitamin D, fresh air, mood boosting, and of course the chance to get away from your smartphone for a while. Running outdoors is a great way to enjoy all the benefits of being outside, plus extra calorie burning and conditioning.

Don’t get stuck in a rut of lifting – try adding some fast-paced running into your weekly routine and watch your physique and fitness adapt.


Nicola Joyce has been writing for (and about) sport, fitness, nutrition and healthy living since 2004. She’s also a keen sportswoman: her background is in endurance sport but she now competes as a natural bodybuilder, most recently winning a world title with the INBF. When she’s not writing content, she can be found blogging. Follow her here and on Facebook & Twitter (@thefitwriter) too.

Comments are closed.