Does running suck?
We often emphasize that running is a highly catabolic type of movement, and as such it’s almost completely ineffective when it comes to fat loss. It’s high-intensity and it breaks down glycogen; this type and amount of intensive activity is essentially doesn’t help achieving bodybuilding goals. On the other hand, running is perfectly suitable for training the cardiovascular system, and – apart from the factors mentioned above – it may also have a number of positive effects on our physique if we integrate it properly into our workout regime. Read on for a 2-mintue sprinting 101!
Why run if jogging is more “trendy”?
First, let’s clarify something right at the get-go: when people say they run regularly, around two thirds of them mean a medium-intensity or lighter jogging. Jogging is a word that already sounds ridiculous – it immediately brings to my mind a flock of obese people sweating like a pig, wearing fancy workout clothes. And I’m not even too far from the truth. Indeed, it’s usually fat people who jog. Why? First, this is all that the mobility – or, rather, immobility – of their body allows them to do. Second, because their body doesn’t seem to change, even after jogging enthusiastically for a year. This is a very typical case. Diet-related factors and a type of movement that is inefficient in terms of fat loss – these are the main reasons why we see so many people who are undoubtedly eager to lose weight, but are unable to actually do so. They are simply wasting their time with wobbling around.
We, humans, have running in our blood. We have two legs and a body that’s made up of parts that function in unbelievable harmony with each other. Running is an instinctive form of human movement: there was a time, when it was much more difficult grabbing a bite, and humans had to run a LOT just to get something nutritious into their system or to protect themselves from danger.
The majority of humans has been reduced to a non-achieving wretch, thanks to its comfortable lifestyle. We’ve created tools to transport our lazy asses from one point to the other... Passive people run 15 metres after the bus, then collapse into the first seat in sight breathing hard, and get transported to their destination – that is, if they manage to catch the bus at all. This is funny alright, but also kind of pathetic.
Despite the reasons we listed against running in relation to bodybuilding, many sportsmen swear by it. Some people run bigger distances, others shorter ones, but more intensively. And not only do they not lose muscle, they may also be able to get rid of some fat, and achieve positive changes in their physique. There are some sportsmen who can even stay in the aerobic range while maintaining an intensive pace, but this requires hard work – and lots of it. Whether there is or there isn’t fat burning, we can significantly enhance our current workout regime by focusing on different aspects than usual.
Running as a muscle-building exercise?
The complexity of the human musculoskeletal system enables it to achieve much more than we’d expect. Let’s set aside the topics that people keep hammering about for a moment – forget the issue of catabolism resulting from running, and everything that we generally advice in connection with the matter. Don’t disregard them completely, just put them in your pocket, and let’s examine the effect of running on the human body from a new perspective. This type of movement – if done regularly – has numerous benefits. The ones that matter for us the most include, but are not limited to the following:
- Enhances testosterone and growth hormone production
- Strengthens legs and provides them with greater stability
- Improves coordination
- Increases soft tissue and bone integrity
Needless to say, these effects can be a huge help while we work on achieving our bodybuilding goals, too. Naturally, when we talk about running, we don’t mean scheduling in a marathon or crossing the North Rail Bridge back and forth 26 times in an hour and a half.
The key to success is moderation, a gradual approach and the appropriate intensity. Below, we outline a few sprinting methods, all of which have distinct effects. Since these are all sprints or shuttle run exercises, there is no wobbling or waddling – only intensive exercise. Let’s see:
- Super short (10-40 meter): short sprints like this can be used to strengthen the leg and give a little extra boost to our hormone production. Depending on your fitness level, sprint this distance once, allow yourself sufficient time for full recovery, then repeat. Repeat 10 times in total, twice a week.
- Medium (40-100 m): medium-distance sprints – apart from the above benefits – also improve conditioning. Repeat 8 times in total with a similar recovery pattern, twice a week.
- Long: (100-800 m): this is more of a challenge, and it requires a higher level of fitness, too. Apart from conditioning, this exercise is also perfect for significantly increasing anaerobic performance, which can be useful during weight training. Repeating the sprint 4-6 times once a week will do.
- Shuttle run: short back-and-forth sprints between two endpoints. Sprint forward rapidly, then stop at the target using your foot; then run backwards or change direction according to the next target. This type of movement increases stability in the feet and the ankle, improves lower-body coordination, and works the muscles of the legs as well. There are no restrictions here: apart from sprints, add regular shuttle runs to your workout regime with the distances, repetitions and recovery periods appropriate to your fitness level.
- Hill sprints: one of the most efficient and most underrated sprinting types around. An extreme workout for our leg muscles and circulation, which – despite the shorter distance – gives us the same benefits as longer sprints. As you don’t reach the “finish line” at full speed, the chances of getting injured or pulling a muscle are smaller during the deceleration phase. Plus, there is no way of relieving your muscles by hitting and clacking your soles against the ground nonchalantly when you decide you’ve had your daily dose of effort. You can use these types of run to complement your short or medium sprint, and make it one of the two sprint workouts of the week.
Easy as pie. Still it isn’t. :)
By following these tips, you can achieve a better overall condition, stability and mobility, while also boosting the anabolic processes taking place in your body. These benefits are in harmony with weight training too; nothing compares to having an outstanding physique AND being able to move around rapidly and dynamically like the Predator himself. That’s quite cool!
Let’s admit, it’s really funny when the appearance of a bodybuilder/sportsman suggests much more than what he’s actually capable of. Running has been an essential form of human movement since the beginning of time. It is what enabled us to survive. Your ability to move around is related to more things than you could possibly imagine. Don’t be an inert lump: use those running gears that let you squat 200 kilos appropriately. That’s the perfect formula. :)
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