Are you thinking of running exercises but fear that your legs might become bulky? Well, this article is just for you! Running may seem like the worst exercise if you’re afraid of bulky legs, but does it make your legs bulky?
Depending on how you run, running can make your legs bulky or slimmer. This is because the type of running exercise determines the result of your leg size and shape. Fast and intense running, like sprinting, makes your legs bulky, while long-distance running at a low pace slows your legs. However, other factors also contribute.
So, does running make your legs bulky? To know more about whether running makes your legs bulky or not, read this article to learn everything that you should know.
Does Running Make Your Legs Bulky?
Generally, any exercise involving muscles will result in their growth. Similarly, running is a dynamic form of physical exercise involving the leg muscles, especially the hamstring, quadriceps, glutes, and calves.
Therefore, expect a change in your leg size. However, there is no direct answer: you can develop bigger legs, thighs, or slimmer legs, while others don’t change.
Generally, several factors determine the result of your running exercises: how you run, duration, how often, genetics, and running intensity.
High-intensity or anaerobic running, like sprinting, can result in bulky legs compared to low-intensity running. This is because anaerobic and low-intensity running triggers the fast-twitch and slow-twitch fiber muscles, respectively.
The fast-twitch muscles are used to produce more force responsible for explosive movements, increasing your leg muscles. On the other hand, the slow-twitch fibers are a type of muscle that promote muscular endurance.
They are better at using oxygen to produce energy, which can result in minimal muscle growth or thinner legs.
Factors To Consider
Suppose you are considering running exercises and are concerned about your leg size at the end. Then, below are the factors that will determine the results.
1) Type of running:
The running, or rather how you run, is the key determinant. Anaerobic or high-intensity running is the kind that triggers fast-twitch muscles, which results in a bulkier body, while aerobic or low-intensity running triggers slow-twitch muscles, resulting in slimmer legs.
To develop larger or smaller legs, the duration you run matters most. Running for short and fast intervals can lead to more muscle growth than long-running, which is not as intense.
3) How often do you run:
Running every day can also result in bigger legs than running once in a while. However, for experienced runners, it may take a lot to see any change.
4) Running intensity:
Another thing to think about is how hard you work out. High-intensity and anaerobic running will likely result in larger legs than low-intensity running.
Genetics may also play a role. Those genetically predisposed to bigger muscles will likely develop larger leg muscles when they run.
As a general rule, males have more muscle mass than females. This means that men tend to develop bigger legs compared to women.
What Is Interval Training Or Running?
An interval training type alternates short bursts of vigorous exercise with longer rest intervals. Interval training has boosted cardiovascular endurance, speed, muscular strength, and cardiovascular function.
Both beginner and veteran runners can use it to improve their running pace and efficiency and ultimately increase the distance they can run. Interval training is ideal for those who don’t want bulky or slim legs. It is also suitable for burning more calories.
Generally, you can expect your legs to get bulky or more muscular while running. However, this is only the case when you run at a high intensity.
Suppose you are running at a low intensity. In that case, your legs will remain slim while taking oxygen and nutrients into the muscles.
What Causes An Increase In Leg Muscles When Running?
Generally, there are various reasons why your legs will get bulky or more muscular while running. They are:
– Increased blood flow to the leg muscles. When running, your legs will experience a surge of oxygenated blood. Because of this, the muscles will receive more oxygen and nutrients, especially the fast-twitch muscles used for explosive movements. As a result, muscles grow larger when you run.
– Decreased level of myostatin. A protein called myostatin prevents the development of muscles. It lessens the amount of muscle growth when in short periods.
– Increased insulin and mitochondrial proliferation. Insulin promotes muscle growth in the muscles.
– More glycogen. Glycogen is a substance used to produce energy in the muscles. You will have more glycogen when you run.
– More mitochondria. Muscle cells contain mitochondria that break down the nutrients used for energy production. When running, your muscles will experience more oxidation, and as a result, you will grow larger when running.
Does Your Body Type Affect Your Leg Size While Running?
Your body type may also contribute to the leg size. Your bone structure and leg length will affect your body’s reaction to running exercises.
Generally, people with larger bones and long legs are more likely to develop heavier legs when running than those with smaller or shorter legs.
Running is a healthy exercise that can benefit the entire body, especially the heart and lungs. Additionally, burning calories aids in weight loss. However, if you are concerned about your bulky legs while doing running exercises, then the best way to avoid it is by taking low-intensity running.
Can Running Help Tone Your Legs?
Running can help tone your leg muscles. It is a healthy exercise that burns excess fat, helps improve breathing and heart health, and helps maintain muscle strength.
However, the critical factor to consider is the intensity. Running at a low power won’t give you bulky legs as it will only burn calories. While running at high intensity can cause blood to rush to your legs, increasing muscle size and density.
Try interval training to ensure you can tone your legs while running. Interval training is also a great way to burn more calories. But when doing interval training, be careful not to run too quickly.
It is recommended to start with exercising gradually and then gradually increase the exercise duration, speed, and intensity.
Aside from interval training, you can also focus on cardiovascular fitness. This will increase your calorie burn rate and enhance your general health.
The best way to incorporate cardio exercises into your running routine is by running shorter distances for longer durations. Like interval training, start by running slowly before gradually increasing your speed and duration.
Running will help tone your legs as long as you run at a low-intensity level. This means that you have to run slowly, not too fast, and not too far to avoid unnecessary stress on the body.