Does Running On A Treadmill Help Build Muscle?

There is a lot of debate on the topic of whether running on a treadmill helps build muscle.

If you are trying to gain muscle, you may have this question whether running on a treadmill will help you build muscle or will you actually lose muscle by running on a treadmill.

To get the correct answer to this question, we will have a look at how our body builds muscles and what really happens when we run on a treadmill.


How Does Our Body Build Muscles?

The body builds muscles by following a process called muscle protein synthesis. It is the process in which muscle cells are repaired, and new proteins are synthesized to replace damaged ones.

The micro-tear in muscles stimulates the production of new proteins that eventually become strong and healthy.

Muscle building occurs when muscle protein synthesis (MPS) exceeds muscle protein breakdown (MPB). (source)

This process is similar to building something over breaking it. If you build more than you break, your muscles will grow bigger.

Weight lifting is one of the best exercises which lead to muscle gain. Any exercise causes MBP but the increase in MPS is greater which leads to net muscle gain. (source)

How does Running on A Treadmill Affect Muscles?

Running on a treadmill will affect your muscles depending on the intensity and duration of your running.

Intense and shorter duration running has shown to build muscle by inhibiting proteins that interfere with muscle growth and decreasing muscle protein breakdown (MPB)

On the other hand, long-distance running can significantly increase MPB and thus hinder muscle growth.

A study was conducted to investigate the impact of running on muscles in marathon runners. A group of thirty men were chosen to run a marathon and were divided into groups of tens.

Each group of ten runners were asked to run at a distance of 10 km, 21 km and 42.195 km. It was seen that all runners had an increase in markers of muscle damage. The levels of markers were directly proportional to the distance they ran.

Does Running On A Treadmill Help Build Muscles?

Short duration and high-intensity running may result in building muscle while long-distance running may cause muscle damage and prevent muscle building.

If you are someone who is looking to build strong muscles, you should aim at high intensity running for short durations.

High intensity running on a treadmill means running at a higher speed or running with an inclined position on a treadmill.

Every person is different and your results will depend on your current body form, intensity and duration of time you run on the treadmill.

Looking at the above study, it can be safe to conclude that running at a speed of 10 kmph for 10 minutes will help you build muscles as compared to running at a speed of 8 kmph for 30 minutes or more.

High-Intensity Treadmill Workout

The high-intensity workout on the treadmill depends on how comfortable you are on the treadmill. Workouts can be adjusted as per your comfort.

I suggest starting slow and then raising the speed as you get used to running on a treadmill.

The idea here is to do short runs of 10-20 mins with high intensity.

Also Read: HIIT Or High-Intensity Interval Training

Example of a high-intensity workout on a treadmill

The total duration of the workout is only 15 minutes. The plan should be to do 6 rounds of 30 seconds of intense running with a 90-second break between each run.

The speed and inclination of your treadmill can be adjusted as per your comfort. Make sure that you are running and not walking when you do your six rounds.

  1. Warm up for 5 minutes. You may choose to walk or run slowly for 5 minutes.
  2. Raise the speed and run for 30 seconds.
  3. Completely stop or walk very slowly for 90 seconds. This is like a resting phase.
  4. Raise the speed again and run for 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat

The Takeaway

Running on a treadmill can help build muscles if done at high intensity and for a shorter duration. On the other hand, longer runs on the treadmill may not help muscle building.

Short duration, high-intensity runs done at least 3 times a week can help build muscle faster.

Make sure that you follow a balanced diet, stay hydrated and warm up before starting your high-intensity treadmill workout.

Tip: Always wear a jacket or something warm while running on a treadmill. The process of thermogenesis will help you gain more from your workouts.



About Jessica J, M.D

Written & reviewed by Dr. Jessica J. Follow me on Pinterest & LinkedIn.

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