For many years, the fitness community was obsessed with bodybuilding – every influencer was making exercise programs, showing different splits, and talking about cutting and bulking, to the point where it almost felt like an online cult. People were debating about the best diets, whether it’s clean eating or IIFYM (if it fits your macros); it was a wild chase for the best way to build the perfect body.
However, around 2020, more precisely, when we all got locked up at home, and many people stopped going to offices to work and instead began working from everywhere, people’s perception of being fit and healthy changed. Many people started taking Peloton classes, and others began their journey in cross-training, but perhaps the biggest “new” obsession became running.
Nowadays, a quick scroll through social media will have you seen a bunch of fitness influencers claiming to be “hybrid athletes,” which you find is a term used to describe those who combine running and lifting in one workout program.
In this article that was written in collaboration with our friends from Pace Passion and the incredible Oleksandr Zagrebelny – coach, runner, and member of Nike Run, we’re going to cover how you can combine your weightlifting session with your running ones and what are the health and fitness benefits that you can expect from doing so.
And now, without further ado, let’s kick things off.
Can You Combine Bodybuilding and Running?
Bodybuilders have one primary goal – build and maintain as much lean muscle mass as they can. That happens through rigorous training of every single muscle in the body, along with a strict diet and a regime that features periods of bulking and those of cutting. It’s a yearly cycle that professionals in the sport have to constantly go through so that they can see better and better results. On the other hand, running is a sport of results – it’s about pace and distance and all about muscles or physical appearance. Most runners typically consider food to be “fuel” and aren’t obsessed about calorie deficits – they just eat to perform.
Having said that, combining these two sports may seem impossible, and at the highest professional level, it likely is. But as someone who trains to look good and be fit, the combination of running and bodybuilding can do terrific things both for your physical appearance and for your overall health. That’s because by lifting weights regularly and maintaining a sufficient caloric intake, you will be able to build muscles over time that enhance not only the way you look but also the way you move, along with your strength and power. On the other hand, running is fantastic for your cardiovascular system – it ensures your heart and your lungs are in prime condition, and it lowers your blood pressure and stress levels, making you an overall healthier individual.
What Does a Lift & Run Training Program Look Like?
Even though many people understand the benefits of lifting and running in the same program, most find it difficult to find the balance between these two sports and often end up slacking on one of them. The example below is of a weekly exercise program that tries to find the perfect balance between the two in order to help you launch your hybrid athlete journey.
- Upper Body Strength Training:
- Pull-ups (3 sets, 6-8 reps)
- Dips (3 sets, 8-10 reps)
- Dumbbell row (4 sets, 9-12 reps)
- Push-ups (4 sets, 9-12 reps)
- Bicep curl (3 sets, 12-15 reps)
- Tricep extension (3 sets, 12-15 reps)
- Running Day:
- 40-minute easy run (5 minutes gradually increasing the pace, 25 minutes tempo run – increase the pace every five minutes, 10 minutes cool-down – slowly decrease the speed)
- Lower Body Strength Training:
- Barbell Back Squat (4 sets, 8-12 reps)
- Hip thrusts (4 sets, 12-15 reps)
- Romanian deadlift (4 sets, 9-12 reps)
- Leg Press (4 sets, 15-20 reps)
- Calf raises (3 sets, 15-20 reps)
- First designated rest day – do some light walking or biking, combined with stretching, so that the muscles can recover for the next sessions.
- Running Day 2:
- A 60-minute slow run (Start gradually and increase the pace until it’s just comfortable for you; maintain it for an hour, aiming to cover more distance over time).
- Lower Body Strength Training:
- Barbell Squats (4 sets, 8-12 reps)
- Chest Press (4 sets, 12-15 reps)
- Dumbbell Lunges (4 sets, 9-12 reps per leg)
- Deadlift (4 sets, 6-8 reps)
- Shoulder Press (3 sets, 15-20 reps)
- Pull-ups (3 sets, 10-12 reps)
- On the second designated rest day, again, try to do some light walking or biking, combined with stretching, so that the muscles can recover for the next sessions.
The main goal of this entire routine is to help you maintain both your running and bodybuilding goals with a slightly more intense focus on the muscle-building part. With that said, as your priorities shift, you may decide to combine more running sessions and miss a bodybuilding one – the choice is entirely up to you, and it can always change according to what you’re looking forward to achieving, either with your physique or with your running goals.
What Are The Benefits of Doing Both Lifting & Running?
As you might have guessed already, the list of benefits here is almost endless, so we’re just going to focus on the most important ones.
Improved Mental Health
Bodybuilding puts a lot of focus on body image, and that’s not always the best for our mental health. Running helps balance that mindset as it puts what your body can achieve at the center of its focus – it’s a good way to remember that your body is more than just the way it looks; it’s also about what it can do. Along with that, the extra boost of endorphins is not something you want to avoid.
Good sleep is vital for feeling healthy and being able to perform at the gym and in our lives. Combining running and bodybuilding will not only make falling asleep easier but also improve the quality of the sleepy hours you’re getting. In turn, that helps expedite muscle tissue repair, which means you will be able to train more and build more muscle over time.
Running is excellent for building endurance, which is vital not only for lifting weights, but also for the quality of life you have. It will allow you to feel better on hikes or as you’re running around your dog or kids, as it will make all those daily activities easy – no more being out of breath and sweaty after walking a few flights of stairs.
If we have to give a quick answer on whether you can combine running and lifting, it would be a resounding YES.
Simply put, combining running and bodybuilding is not only possible but also a fantastic idea. That way, you will be able to both look the way you’ve always dreamed but also feel and perform on a much higher level. Not to mention that it will make you the favorite aunt, uncle, or parent to every kid in your family, as you will never feel too tired from running around or tossing them in the air.