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There is a popular preconception that you want to build big muscles running, which is not an exercise you should include in your workout plan. Muscle loss is a big concern for bodybuilders, but another one is the risk of injury.
Can it be safe for a person who carries 10, 20, or 30 extra pounds in muscle to run, knowing that running puts a lot of pressure on the knees and joints?
The answer is yes. Running as a bodybuilder can be both safe and beneficial for long-term goals, but only when done right.
How to Not Lose Muscle While Running
Running is one of the best exercises to burn fat, but how do you also keep the muscles that you worked so hard for? To stay in the fat-burning zone while running, the most important thing is to try to remain in the sub-lactate zone, meaning that your body is not accumulating a lot of lactic acid.
This is something that anaerobic exercises provide. In the sub-lactate state, your body burns fat as fuel for your run.
To remain in the sub-lactate zone while running, you need to keep your heart rate at 70-80% of its maximum output, but studies show that 90% is actually when the athletes hit this threshold.
Giving yourself a bit of a challenge, like lowering the threshold, can be beneficial for your endurance in the sub-lactate zone, meaning that you will burn more calories (for example, a 200lb man can burn more than 750 calories per hour!)
To maximize your performance, developing aerobic fitness is also important – because it can help your body to start burning fat more quickly when you start running.
Periodized training is a great way to achieve this. By introducing variety to your runs, you can achieve anything you want. For example, when building your aerobic foundation, you can include short, and more intense uphill runs, or longer but less intense runs that are faster than your anaerobic runs.
The aim of this is to come closer to the lactate threshold and improve your aerobic fitness.
Another great way to improve your anaerobic threshold is high-intensity runs – like sprinting. Springing can help train your body to run faster in a low impact run but not accumulate a lot of lactic acid.
It is an excellent fat burning exercise because, after the workout, your body will burn many calories to feed lost oxygen to your muscles. But there is another concern – injury.
How to Stay Injury-free while Running
Most bodybuilders carry even up to 60 pounds more in muscles than an average distance runner, so the risk of injury is significantly higher. That is why running technique is essential to staying injury-free. Having the correct running form can take a lot of time, but it is nonnegotiable for bodybuilders.
Running on your forefoot is one of the most common ways to prevent any injuries. Most people are used to striking heel-first, so it is not easy to unlearn, but there is one technique.
While running barefoot, you will notice that you’ll automatically strike forefoot because your body adjusts in order to absorb the shock better. Striking on your forefoot will make your ankles’ muscles and ligaments absorb the shock and pressure, thus keeping your knees with minimal impact.
Another way to reduce the risk of injury is to increase your stride frequency. For optimal running performance, every step you take should land your foot just under your hips. If you have your foot go way in front of your body, the result is a harder landing, which increases the risk of injury.
When it comes to landing, it is also essential to land with your knees bent, and not strengthen, but make sure that your foot is straight.
Choosing top-performing running shoes is also beneficial for your foot health. Just like having the right bodybuilding-weight training shoes with a firm flat sole/slight elevation will assist with squats and deadlifts, having the right running shoes can make a world of difference when getting your cardio in.
Running shoes are an essential item for running, and they do matter. For heavier runners, it is suggested to invest in shoes that can provide better stability, good cushions, and support while running on any surface.
But speaking on the surfaces, the area where you run matters. To reduce the impact the ground has on your ankles and knees, running on a softer, flat surface is the best way to reduce the risk of injury.
Diet, Nutrient and Muscle Fatigue
Running is a great exercise to improve your gym endurance, but building up that endurance is hard work. Endurance running can increase your lung capacity, but also the efficiency of your heart. But being such a big guy makes the runs extra hard. Because bodybuilders have bigger thighs than an average runner, they are getting tired more quickly. This is where your diet comes into play.
With so much tissue to feed, the muscle fatigue catches up pretty fast. The best way to fight muscle fatigue is to fuel your runs with slow-burning complex carbs, protein, and some fats.
Staying hydrated is also essential, as well as consuming the correct vitamins and minerals. You can even combine these two by adding calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and phosphorus to your drink.
The Final Word
Running as a bodybuilder is very demanding, and it does require a lot of planning, discipline, and tight eating and supplements habits, but the benefits are worth it.
Not only does it help you to burn more fat, but if your goal is to live to a 100, running should be included in your workout schedule, because it helps with reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and keeps your overall health in check.
It also aids your gym performance because your endurance increases, your lungs, and your heart get stronger, and you will be able to work out with greater intensity and build even more muscle.
Another benefit for those chasing the ultimate aesthetic, jogging outdoors is a great way to kill two birds with one stone as you are getting your cardio in and you are also able to get tan, and being tan can help enhance your physique. (Make sure to use sunscreen to protect yourself though!)
If you have never thought of utilizing running with your strength training, now is the perfect time to start.
Depending on your goals, you can become a more rounded athlete and really embrace that exercising is not only about aesthetics but also about health.