One of the questions as old a the sport of body building is ‘does running build mass?’. This is a loaded question however.
It really depends however on how you go about running.
As you have probably noticed if you ever have watched a marathon, long distance running most certainly does not build muscle. You can quite clearly see that by looking at most long distance runner that many don’t weigh more than 150 pounds.
When you long distance run your body needs a massive amount of energy to power through miles upon miles of continuous running. This is essentially why carbo loading is so critical for distance runners. When you run for an extended period of time, all the stored carbs and fats in your body get burned up as fuel. After you burn through all your stored carbs, your body begins to burn through the available proteins. When your body begins to use your proteins a fuel source, your chances of building muscle are slim since proteins are the building blocks for muscle growth. As a result you eventually will get to the point where your body eats away at its self until you barely have any muscle left.
However sprinting enhances your muscle building qualities when combined with weight lifting. There are a few key ways in which you can use sprints to cut down fat, increase cardiovascular endurance, and spark growth hormone
Sprints for resistance training
Your muscles grow through resistance training. This is not secret in the body building industry. By lifting weights in the gym you are performing one of the most basic types of resistance training that will always produce results.
However, people often forget that running is also a form of resistance training as well. Sprinting in particular is one of the best forms of resistance training for building mass. When you are running at high speeds, a huge amount of energy is forced onto your leg as you take a step. The force exerted on your legs can be as much as two to three times your bodyweight. In turn, sprinting for a hundred yards means that you are putting your legs through intense resistance training.
Speed work prepares your body for lifting heavy
When you run sprints specifically before your workout, your central nervous system responds by increasing your force output, or your capacity to lift heavy. Therefore, it is best to do sprints as a bit of a workout before you get into your lifting.
Speed training affects your neuromuscular system in a way that allows your body to lift at peak performance right when you start your workout. Without doing any running or cardio exercise before a workout, it takes a few sets for your body to adjust to the lifting. However sprinting before jumpstarts the process and allows you to start your workouts with more explosive power. By performing your lifts with more strength and power you will be able to lift more weight for longer periods of time. As everyone knows, the more weight you force yourself to lift, the more your muscles will grow.
Sprints help avoid putting on fat
Most people think of long distance running when fat loss comes to mind. However, sprinting is actually one of the best way to aid muscle growth and keep off fat that can come with muscle growth. Sprint can dramatically increase post-exercise oxygen consumption. This process puts your body in a state where it demands huge amounts of calories for a few hours after your workout to make up from the massive energy expended during sprints.
One of the most common mistakes body builders make is that they simply eat too much. Consuming too many calories will result in additional fat storage which is not what most people are interested in. This little post-exercise oxygen consumption state is a powerful window of time where your body is craving calories and also burning fat. As a result sprinting enables body builders to put on massive amounts of lean muscle but at the same time, shred fat.
Its true that your body tends to become accustomed to a workout if you repeat it over and over again. If you workout your muscles the same way with the same intensity, they will adapt and stop growing. As you might know, variation in your workouts it necessary to keep your muscles on their toes and not complacent to what you throw at them. For example instead of doing basic bicep curls like you usually do, instead try and do cable curls with a hammer grip to mix things up.
Of course doing sprints is also a great way to add some variety to your workout and change things up. Three times a week, doing some interval running can make a huge difference in your overall muscle development and muscle growth.
In addition to sprints, doing the warmups necessary before sprinting such as stretching can make a huge difference in terms of muscle growth. By stretching out before and after sprints you stretch out the fascia or the lining if you would of your muscles. When you stretch the fascia out you provide more space for your muscles to grow. Incorporating stretching routinely in your sprint routines can allow for explosive muscle growth.
What you need to do
Sprinting is a great way to build muscle mass, however you must keep in mind that building muscle by sprinting alone is not as effective as lifting with sprinting on the side. Before you start to get into sprint workouts it is best if you commit yourself to a routine, muscle building program first. Once you get into the swing of this workout, you then can start to incorporate the sprinting.
You don’t need to go overboard. Spending 2 hours on sprinting before your actual workout is counter productive. One, because you will tire yourself out before the meat of the workout and two because sprinting becomes more catabolic then anabolic when you do it for a long period of time.
You can start by just doing 3 minutes a day. That might not seem like a lot but doing 3 minutes of concentrated and intense sprinting with only a little bit of rest within those three minutes is much more tiring then you might think.