Running for Bodybuilders

One of the enduring myths of fitness is that you can’t mix running and body building. The assumption underlying this myth is that the more you run, the more difficult it is to add bulk muscle mass, and likewise, the more bulk you add, the more difficult it becomes to run. However, there are types of running that complement body building quite well and assist with the cutting phase in a safe and effective manner.

How to Run

To successfully develop the muscle mass necessary for body building, avoid long-distance endurance running. Explosive running, such as sprints and shuttle runs, recruit fast-twitch muscles throughout the body, and the short bursts of activity don’t burn away muscle mass. In a sense, sprint work is form of strength training. It helps you develop muscles that don’t typically activate during traditional weightlifting exercises. It also provides effective cardiovascular impact, improving your overall level of fitness.

Work Into Weightlifting

While certain types of running, like sprints, can fit with a weight-training schedule geared toward body building, it should be a supplementary exercise -- not the primary focus. Your training should focus on building lean muscle and developing defined musculature throughout the body. If you have an existing lifting schedule and you want to add running to it, start slowly. Use one of your rest days for your first sprint sessions. As your body adjusts, increase to two sprint sessions per week.

Running and Competition

If you are a competitive body builder, sprint work can be a helpful tool to help you during the cutting phase of your training as you near a competition. The cutting phase focuses on shedding body fat to achieve increased definition of muscles. In the weeks leading up to a competition, increase your sprint training to three sessions per week and reduce the intensity of your lifting schedule.

Potential Concerns

When you incorporate high-intensity sprint training into an already-intense weight-training program, you run an increased risk of injuries and the onset of fatigue from overtraining. For this reason, it’s crucial to add your sprint training component slowly and methodically. Avoid doing any sprint work on weight-training days, which could inhibit muscle tissue regeneration. During the cutting phase, carefully monitor your caloric intake versus how many calories you’re expending during your sprint work. Adjust the caloric intake for your cutting diet upward to accommodate the increased demands of the running component of your regimen.

About the Author

Bobby R. Goldsmith is a writer and editor with over 12 years of experience in journalism, marketing and academics. His work has been published by the Santa Fe Writers Project, "DASH Literary Journal," the "Inland Valley Daily Bulletin" and WiseGEEK.