I love running. I love weight training and bodybuilding. By trying to do both, am I destined to be ineffective at both?

runners vs bodybuildersMany of you are runners too. And if you subscribe to this blog, you are no doubt into weight training. I keep hearing and reading on other blogs that you can’t do both.   That’s bull.  Here’s their theory: pumping iron builds muscle mass that will add weight to your body; that added weight will slow you down and add stress to your knees and other soft tissue ultimately leading to injuries if you run. And on the other hand, steady-state cardio (medium or long distance running) will burn more muscle than it burns fat.  [Some experts even go so far as to say "give up cardio totally".  I've got an upcoming post to dismiss that, but back to today's post...]

Bottom Line: They’re partially right – yes, it presents big challenges to try to do both, and their theory is correct.  But their conclusion is wrong – of course you CAN do both!  I say – forget the science. Do what you love!

Did He Just Say To Ignore Science?

Well, sort of.  I’m not saying ignore it – I’m just saying that life is too short to live in fear.  So a more pragmatic (but less pithy) way of saying is:  learn the science so that you can compensate for the hard realities and still do what you love.

What is  “Running”?

For simplicity, let’s break running into two categories (yes, I know there are a million ways to slice it, but stay with me here for my point):

a) steady-state, medium- to long-distance (like jogging or at the high end, marathons); in this running you are keeping your pace and heart rate pretty constant

b) interval-style, short, with intense bursts (like sprinting); in this running, your pace and heart rate vary considerably throughout the run

This post isn’t talking about high-intensity burst running, like sprints or hill intervals. Lots of science has shown that type of running to be very effective for burning fat and only needs 20-30 minutes of it a few times a week.  It works well (and even complements) a hard-core weight training regimen and I’m not arguing about that.  And most bodybuilding/weight training gurus also don’t argue with that.

I’m also not talking about competitive runners or bodybuilders.  Since I am not, nor have I ever been, a top marathoner or on-stage bodybuilder, I can’t attest to how doing both might affect the upper echelon of athletes.  But know this:Tom Venuto, champion bodybuilder, is not one of those people who poo-poo running.   He’s got an entire chapter on cardio in Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle (that’s an outstanding book, weighing in at 341 pages – yes, 341!).  And even Arnold typically ran 4 or 5 miles several times a week during his show prep (though he doesn’t mention, in his outstanding Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding, at what intensity level he ran).

I’m talking about 20 to 40 mile a week, subscribe-to-Runner’s-World, “looking for the runner’s high” kind of running.  The science is pretty conclusive that you will be burning muscle after about 60 minutes or so of steady-state running.  But I don’t care, because I love it.  And there are ways to mitigate the downsides (see below).

Now, you don’t want to have running be your only exercise:  if you’re fat, you’ll take too long to lose it, and if you’re normal-weight, you’ll turn into that “skinney-fat” you see in many marathoners that is antithetical to what the WFN community is striving for.

How To Be a Runner and a Bodybuilder

Here’s how you CAN be gaining lean muscle mass through weight training AND do medium to long-distance running:

1.   Eat.  Eat lots.  Eat often. Eat slow carbs (for example, oats) and lean proteins.  If you are lifting weights 3-4 times a week and running 3-4 times a week, you need calories.  But don’t go for sugary calories.
2.   Stagger your running distances on different days. For example, I run 3 times a week:  6 miles, then 8 miles, then 10 miles.  Once in a while, my 10 miler goes to 13.1 (a half marathon).
3.   Pick one run to be an interval run. Why?  This recruits more fast-twitch muscles, burns more fat, and increases your overall speed.  For me, it’s usually my 8 miler.   I turn this into an interval run as follows:  first 5 minutes is steady state, then I alternate with roughly this sequence:  sprint for about 1 minute at about 90% of my max effort, then slow to shuffle (about walking speed really) for 1 minute, then get back to regular pace for about 2 minutes.  Repeat until you are done, but make sure your last minute is a full-on 100% sprint.  You’ll be astonished how quickly you tire out!

4.   Never run on the day after your leg-training day for weights. You need a day to rest after maxing out on squats.  If you don’t, your leg muscles are not going to grow.
5.   Never run before weights. You need maximum focus and strength to get the most out of your weight training sessions.  If you don’t believe me, try it each way for one week and you’ll see what I mean!
6.   Weights, Refuel, Run. After your weight training session, take a 30 minute break or so and get some protein and good carbs before you run.  But make your refueling light so you don’t upset your stomach.
7.   Watch our stretching. Don’t do too much static stretching beforehand.  There is some mixed science on this issue, but I recommend you do dynamic stretches before your weight training, and before your running, but do static stretches on your off days or after your workouts.
8.   Pay really close attention to your body. If you notice the start of any injury, back off a bit.  I personally suffered from plantar fasciitis several years ago because I tried to keep running for weeks after it started.  By then much damage was done.  Remember – you’re trying to do two things you love (weight training and running) while improving your health and physique.  Don’t be bullheaded and think you are superhuman.
8.5 Change your socks. Always change your socks before you start a run.  Your feet will appreciate it!

If you are running simply to “get in your cardio”, and you hate running, then absolutely go for the aforementioned sprints or hills.  And read Mike Geary’s The Truth About 6-Pack Abs, p. 89 to 92 (that book is so much more than a book about abs, by the way, as my critique of the book highlights).

But if you love running, for the joy of running, don’t give it up.  And don’t give up your weight training either.

If you are a “runner” who is also dedicated to weight training to build lean muscle mass, please share your own tips by commenting below!

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96 Responses to “The Running Bodybuilder – 8.5 Tips”

  1. Thanks for the advice. I have used this technique in the past and it has worked well. I agree with the sprinting info. Great stuff!

  2. Cool Don – have you picked up any other tips you can share?

  3. Can you post some links to articles related to the use of “high-intensity burst running” for loosing weight? Thanks.

  4. Sure lamcro – give me a few days to gather the resources, so check back mid-week.

  5. SICK! How about doing speed runs or short speed bursts 5 times a week? Do you think that would greatly encourage fat loss? Or should i stick to doing speed bursts 1-2 times a week for fat loss?

    Great write up bro!

  6. Hey Tyson – each person reacts differently. For me, I need a combination of the steady state cardio with bursts to maximize my fat loss. The science is pretty clear that in aggregate (meaning the average over a number of people and studies) is that sprint-HIIT will burn more fat. But there are exceptions based on your body type and metabolism.

    I don’t recommend sprints 5x a week though – because with that frequency, you won’t be giving your muscles any time to recuperate. If sprinting was the ONLY exercise you were doing, then it’s probably fine but I assume you are doing strength training (including legs) at least 2x a week with weights too. That means you need rest days in there.

  7. Lamcro – the original science on this issue is hard to interpret, as they often use secondary indicators like glucose metabolism or maximal oxygen consumption but here are two solid science sources for you plus one great article from a site that I generally don’t like much but in this case has good content:
    1) This is the one that started it all off in 1994: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8028502
    2) This is a more current “repeat” with similar findings:
    Effect of Exercise Training Intensity on Abdominal Visceral Fat and Body Composition
    3) This is a less-scientific but still accurate layperson article: http://www.askmen.com/sports/b.....s_tip.html

    And this guy seems to have cut and pasted things from various articles: http://forum.bodybuilding.com/.....12486.html

    Interesting to note that there are several studies showing that simply doing weight training itself increases fat loss. For example, here’s one.

  8. Thanks. I’ll be reading them soon.

  9. Right on Darrin thanks for the input! I am currently doing weights so I will probably just do sprints twice a week Max.

  10. Very important article, Darrin. It´s refreshing to hear, for a change, that you don’t need to give up long-distance running if you want to lift heavy weights. I got a question, though: if I shouldn’t run the day after my leg-training day, how can I fit three runs into one week? Could you suggest a sample schedule for someone who lifts 3 times a week (and trains legs 3 times every 2 weeks)? Thanks a lot.
    Sandro Tavares
    Brasilia, Brazil

  11. Hi Sandro – sure thing. Except for one run a week, I run on the same day as weights. Now keep in mind I am not a beginner, so any beginners out there should not follow my schedule. But what I do is
    M – leg workout #1, abs
    T – upper body workout #1
    W – long run (10 miles)
    Th – upper body workout #2
    F – leg workout #2, abs, short run (4.5 miles)
    S – rest
    S – upper body workout #3, medium run (6 miles, plus 2 miles of sprint work)
    Note that I never do the same exact exercise more than once a week. My “upper body #1″ workout is very different than my “upper body #2″, for example.

    For most people, I would recommend something more like this:
    M – upper body, long run (whatever “long” means to you)
    T – off
    W – legs, abs, short run
    Th – off
    F – full body (upper and lower), abs, medium run with sprints
    S and S – off

    Does this help?

  12. It sure does, Darrin. Thank you very much.

  13. Hey Darrin, what a refreshing article. I’m sick to the teeth of people saying that ‘runs are useless for fat loss’ and ‘cadio is obsolete’. I do two bodyweight circuits per week using push-ups, wall squats. pull-ups, planks and burpees. But without question, my favorite exercise is running. Or should U say, outdoor running. Treadmills, for me, are a different world. Running gives me a buzz like no other kind of training. It relaxes me and while every run isn’t enjoyable, most are. People like boxers and other athletes have performed old-school cardio like rope jumping and running for decades – and it worked for them. The way some people are talking now, you’d swear HIIT and interval training was the ONLY WAY to fat loss. I do have one question, however: I run 4 times a week at between 70% to 85% of my heart rate. Would one interval session shift more fat? Say, 30 second sprints sprinkled throughout a normal run? Thanks, loved the article. Cheers, K.

  14. Darrin, This is a great article & very practical and seems to be you are very experienced.

  15. I have been looking for this type of information for a long time. I love running but also want to continue to build muscle (as I’m not very big). I am so happy I found this, thank you so much Darrin. I have now subscribed to this website and am looking forward to reading more of your articles.

  16. This is really good as I haven’t found much about combining running and bodybuilding. The vast majority are either in one camp or the other.

    What would you recommend to eat/drink before going for a run to preserve muscle? I’m naturally pretty thin and don’t want to end up looking like a marathon runner!

  17. @Jules – since you are already thin, you clearly aren’t using running as a fat-loss accelerator. So running for you is about the sport of running itself (and the heart-health). In that case, I would eat carbs and proteins (I know, pretty obvious right?) but heavier on protein beforehand and heavier on carbs afterward. But you have to be careful about upset stomach. When my runs go over about 8 miles I have to be very sensitive about what and when I eat. So you have to experiment. What are you eating now? Specifically for longer runs I’d eat a banana and a protein shake (pure whey protein, not with milk). So that’s mostly protein but some carbs. Probably about 30 to 45 minutes before. For really long runs I also take a goo or gel with me and take that about every 5 miles. Then, afterward, I’d eat something like oatmeal or grapenuts (so mostly carbs but some protein). I’d wait about 30 minutes after the run before I’d eat. Hope that helps!

    Also, fyi, see http://worldfitnessnetwork.com.....r-workout/

  18. Hi Darrin,

    Running for me is definitely for health and for the enjoyment. I get the best buzz from running that cannot be matched by any other exercise!

    At the moment I’ve been waiting about an hour and a half after eating before I go for a run. Normally it will be after lunch or after a protein shake.

    I’ll give the banana and whey thing a go and see how I get on.

    Out of interest I wonder if you know the effect of doing cardio at a higher hr (say 80-85% of mhr) for long distance rather than the typical fat buring zone as used in bodybuilding. I’m sure that it is good for vo2 max, but I wonder about the effect on muscle and fat?

    I tend to only get the runners high if I go above 70% mhr

    Thanks

    Jules

  19. @Jules – I wrote about this in http://worldfitnessnetwork.com.....ober-2009/ where I covered a recent scientific study of exactly your question. The short summary:

    The best fat burning zone was at about 68% to 87% of maximal heart rate, while the best aerobic zone was between 59% and 76%. Note the big overlap. Translation: you can simultaneously optimize fat burn and aerobic fitness by targeting between 68% and 76%.

    If you dig deeper, there are two other points worth noting: a) the difference in fat calories burned can differ by a factor of 2 or so; this means there really is a fat-burning zone, and b) there is a high variability from individual to individual so you can’t just assume these averages apply to everyone; you’ll need to do some testing on yourself to see which range is best.

  20. Hi Darrin,

    Now I am confused, I thought that the fat burning zone was around 59% to 75% and that the aerobic zone was about 68% to 87%!

    What you have suggested seems contrary to the things I have read in the past. I always thought that bodybuilders do cardio in the 60-75% range as this is what is best for fat burning.

    I’m going out for a run in a bit, so I shall play around with running at a slightly reduced hr to get into the optimal zone for both.

  21. @Jules – woops! Typo alert. Should have said “The best aerobic zone was at about 68% to 87% of maximal heart rate, while the best fat burning zone was between 59% and 76%.” Sorry!

    Note that if you look up the original study, their abstract also makes this error but if you read the full paper and look at the charts (which I have right in front of me as I just rechecked this), then you’ll see that it was reversed. Again, sorry.

  22. Ah I did wonder! I tried the banana and scoop of whey and it seemed to be ok.

    One more question for you. Do you think training legs twice a week can be too much when running? I was thinking of following the 3 day upper/lower/full body split that you mention above, but I will be running on the other 3 days. (full body day will be a high rep lower weight day)

    I’m trying to exercise every day (sunday will be a light day of stretching and core stability) and don’t really want to take a day of after leg day if possible.

    Alternatively I will have a go at http://www.defrancostraining.c.....part1.html which has only one lower body day to allow for recovery from other sports

    Cheers

    Jules

  23. @Jules – one thing I’ve been trying recently (and will be writing about soon) is what I call The URL Sequence:
    Day1: Upper Body Lifting
    Day2: Run
    Day3: Lower Body Lifting, possibly including 10 min of intense sprints
    Day4: recovery
    repeat in the URL sequencing.

    So it’s an 8-day week where I’m doing long steady running (between 4 and 8 miles) twice a week and doing intense leg work twice a week.

    So far I’m finding that I’m making progress in my squats and in my run times without any negatives.

    Try it and let me know!

  24. I’m a 55 yr old male. I’ve been weight training for about 4 years now and had been using an elliptical trainer for cardio for reduced stress on the “older” joints. I found it hard to push myself on the elliptical so I sold that and started doing rope jumping , running stairs, heavy bag training, jumping jacks etc for a cardio WO. It’s a great way to train but you can get fried pretty easily if you’re not careful. I’ve been debating as to whether or not running 2-3 miles a few times a week might be a good way to stay lean without loosing the bit of muscle that I have or if the HIIT style is actually better for my purposes?. BTW My purpose for strength and cardio training is for health & fitness. As you get older it’s hard enough to gain muscle. I’m not interested in getting bigger as much as stripping off the fat and maximizing what I have. Also. Do you find full body or splits working best for you and what rep ranges? I’ve been doing a 5×5 FB with heavy weight but I can only sustain that for 6-8 weeks before I need to back off.

  25. @gordon – several questions in here. Without private consult, I can only give general answers. First off, congrats on keeping at it despite getting older! For fat loss, the most important thing is your eating. After that, what you are comparing is HIIT vs steady state. I have an article coming soon that will show that even though HIIT gets more scientific credit for fat loss, the studies are artificial – you need to study what people actually do in real life and as you know, doing HIIT is very hard. Ultimately the best exercises are the exercises you love to do, that you can do intensely. From what little I see about your personality, I’d suggest a blend. Either do steady state stuff for 3-4 weeks, then switch to HIIT stuff for 3-4 weeks, etc, continuing to alternate weeks OR I’d alternate cardio workouts between steady state and HIIT. Keep in mind though that HIIT will interfere more with your lifting workout schedule.

    For your question on lifting, it all depends on goals. a 5×5 type workout is generally good if you have been lifting for at least a year (I created an alternate called the 6x6x6 routine) but I always switch up routines. Nothing works “forever”. If you’ve been going a 5×5 type lifting program for a while, take 2-3 months and focus on a full-body routine.

  26. Darren,

    I have been trying some bodyweight circuits recently – 8 exercises done back-to-back with zero rest. wait 1 minute and go again for a total of three sets. But I love running too and I like to go three times a week for 30-45 mins. Will doing all of the above result in overtraining? I’m male, 44. I don’t like weights, and find the bodyweight circuits really ‘burn’ my muscles. I don’t do interval runs’; just steady state.

  27. @Kieran – are you running and doing the bodyweight stuff on different days? If so, that could mean your legs are getting hit 6 days in a row. It’s probably ok for most people because in your entire week, it’s all endurance-focus, not strength focus. Pay really close attention to your joints and how they feel. If you start getting knee pain, for example, then back off. It sounds like your goals are not muscle building but either endurance or fat burning, right? Some people are afraid of overtraining, but it’s really hard to actually overtrain. However, it is easy to see no progress because of overall bad program design. Your routine sounds fine for fat loss or endurance but if someone was looking to add muscle then changes would be needed.

  28. Hi Darrin,
    Thanks for the response to my question. I’ve decided to add the 3-4 days of running to my fitness schedule along with weights and it seems to be working well. I generally run about 3 miles 3 days per week. I was doing the 5×5 WO and now I’m starting a 4 day split which will fit in nicely with running I think and after 6-8 weeks of the split I’ll do the full body routine again. Just thought I’d drop by and add the update.
    Take Care!

  29. Hi Darren,

    Yes, I do bodyweight circuits Mon, Wed and Fri. But I run Tues, Thurs and Sat, so yes, I would be training six days a week. My gaols ARE fat loss and a toned, slim look. I’m not into the ‘bodybuilder’ look. But I DO know how important muscle mass is for metabolism. Would I be better trimming my bodyweight circuits down to twice a week and then just run the other days?

    My bodyweight circuit consists of 60 jumping jacks followed by push-ups, wall squats, single-leg squats, plank, and burpees. I do one set, rest 1 minute and go for another 2 sets.

  30. @Kieran – love to help more, but we’d need to get into a lot of back-and-forth specifics on your situation that are separate from this article’s focus. I’d need your current height, weight, bodytype, bodyfat, etc. If you’d like to talk more, let’s do it over on the forum: http://worldfitnessnetwork.com/forum . Create a new post there and we can correspond (and others can jump in too!).

  31. Hi Darrin,

    Thanks for the great information. I will surely take your advice, i really need to get in shape for now and i am just starting this kind of lose weight program so i need to take it slow first.. i look forward to read more of your articles too.

  32. The greatest fat loss workout involves high intensity interval training, a typical sense diet and plenty of rest.

  33. Hey Darrin,

    thanks for your article, it kinda sparked my motivation to get into running again. I have always been running, mostly distances around 3-5 miles and played soccer several times a week for a team. As I started Bodybuilding 4-5 times a week I gave up running as well as soccer, out of the fear of loosing my muscles. Currently I am 6`1 and weigh around 207 pounds (which is very heavy for a soccer player I think). Do you think it is possible to play soccer twice a week (one tournament which would be around 90 minutes) and a training session which would be another 90 minutes plus a run of 30 minutes week, in addition to my 4-5 day hyperthrophy training? I just feel I lost some agility…

    Thank you so much

  34. @Thomas – that’s quite a lot. I’m not seeing how you have any recovery time. I’m not sure how old you are, but I would think that unless you are 19, you couldn’t recover from this. And if you can’t recover then at best you’ll stagnate; at worst, you’ll see performance decline.

    If you love soccer and want to get back into running, but still want to do hypertrophy training, then I think you could dial down the hypertrophy to 3-4 sessions a week. Depending on your diet, age, sleeping, etc. you *might* be able to see progress on all fronts. But generally, the older you get the more you have to prioritize: which is most important? At 6’1″, 207 pounds, you are either overweight or you have a helluva lot of muscle already (or possibly both). I’m guessing you could dial your hypetrophy training down without muscle loss if you have a good program and good eating habits.

  35. Darrin thank you so much for your quick answer. My bodyfat percentage ranges between 13 and 15%. I am trying to play in a rather lower division soccer league. Any tips for my nutrition?

  36. It is impossible to have big gains and running a lots.

    It is impossible to have big gains in bodybuilding not running. Arnold says he was running 2 miles every morning. No sport can be done without running.

    I think if one will run a lot’s for some 2-3 month’s it may increase the gains for next year even if can’t pump this month’s

    I think that I can’t pump intensively and run more than 4 km a day.

    4 km (2 miles) is amazing distance anyway!

  37. Glad to see im not the only one who loves running and weight lifting

    I’ve found a good balance over the last few years, im a quick sprinter (obviously not compared to proper sprinters) and got my half marathon time down to 1 hour 24mins, while still lifting heavy weights in the gym and often get told at races im quick for a big guy (6ft 3, 202lbs) and still have lots of other hobbies i like to try

    The only problem i have now is that i appear to be reaching a plateau in both and feel without committing more to either running or weights i’ll be stuck at this plateau.

    Any advise on how to keep improving with both or have i just reached my limit?

  38. @ Chris – I never say never, but at your size a half marathon at 1:24 is pretty darn good. It is likely that improving long-distance speed would require some weight loss. I’m assuming at 202 you are pretty lean?

    Conversely, 6’3″ and 202 (assuming ~10% bodyfat) is also pretty good for muscle mass, and adding more muscle mass would require a lot of dedication if you are doing a lot of steady state running.

    Advancing in both is certainly possible, but would require a near-professional level of commitment: sleeping, eating, recovery, training time, etc. all would need to be significant, I believe.

    What I usually tell people is to rank their priorities – I know it’s not as simple as just picking one priority: we all want to be leaner, more muscular, faster, have better endurance, etc. But order them from most important to least important. Then adjust your training based on that.

  39. Hi Darrin

    Thanks for the advice and the quick reply

    Guess i’d better have a think to decide if i could take training up a level and really commit to it including all the areas you mentioned, even if only for a 6 month period to see if i make any improvements.

    Thanks again

  40. Hey All,

    Just thought I’d add – I’ve been training about 5 years and also love running AND resistance training. I find it helps to keep runs to am rather than pm and I also take glutamine and BCAA’s before and after the run to minimise muscle burning and max fat loss. Best of luck to all!

  41. @Ben – yeah, I’ve been meaning to write more about the value of BCAA’s before/after a run as I’ve been doing that more recently, mostly out of fear of losing all the muscle I’ve gained in the past 9 months.

  42. Hi Darrin,
    Great article. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions. Currently I follow a diet which includes: Breakfast – 9 egg whites, lenders bagel, and 12 oz. of orange juice; then I have 3 meal replacement shakes spaced evenly throughout the day; and for Dinner I eat 170 grams of protein, 80 grams of pasta, and 2 oz. of veggies. My current weight training schedule is: M – Chest and Tri’s, Tues – Abs, Wed – Back and Bi’s, Thur – legs, Fri – Shoulders, Sat and Sun are off days, and I also do 30 minutes of cardio 5x a week. I currently weigh 173 and have a bodyfat of 14%. I would like to start running because several jobs that I’m interested in require you to pass a physical abilitys test which includes running and also I enjoy the sport. My question to you is my current diet and workout regimen going to have a negative effect on my ability to run and sustain a long run? Any advice and information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Billy

  43. @Billy – I’m not a fan of lifting routines that focus on arms unless you are already in top-notch shape from doing the big 7. Read the tough love here: http://worldfitnessnetwork.com.....t-version/ and http://worldfitnessnetwork.com.....-straight/ (read the comments too).

    Why the shakes instead of real food? Looks to me that you are only getting 2 oz of veggies a day? That’s nowhere near enough to be healthy.

    So your specific question of whether your current routine and diet would allow you to sustain long runs… well, how long of a run? And what time of day are you planning to run? How many days a week? Generally, you want to eat your carbs (with protein too) after your run but generally you need to refuel during long runs about every 30 to 45 minutes if you want to work on speed and distance. Let’s assume you want to be able to run 5 miles at a 9 minute/mile pace or faster. In that case, your diet would be fine. Actually, your diet won’t impact it much at all. Your recovery time is a bigger factor. Since you are really only lifting 3 days a week and each muscle group is only hit once a week, you should have no problem getting up to 5 mile runs, 3 times a week, as long as you don’t rush it. Read this: http://worldfitnessnetwork.com.....ogression/ and avoid this happening to you: http://worldfitnessnetwork.com.....e-problem/ .

  44. Hello Darrin,

    I have read through the article and all of the comments and I’m very interested in your philosophy on working out and running as well as dietary requirements. I came across this page while doing a google search on “running and weight lifting” and would like a chance to talk to you more in depth about my fitness goals and nutrition in regards to my body type. What is the best method to communicate with you without consuming too much of your free time? I don’t want to feel like I’m bugging you! Any help is appreciated, I’ve picked up a ton of information just by reading through the article and the comments, but I feel I need some more personal insight if at all possible.

    Cheers,
    Aaron

  45. Hi Aaron – the best way to converse is in our forums:
    http://worldfitnessnetwork.com/forum/
    If you don’t see a thread that fits your interests, start a new one!

  46. running n bodybuilding is a great combination,ive seen great results.n if u want great looking 6p abs real fast,you will have to eat right and do ab excercises but its a slow process,but if u add outdoor running(no tm}in ur workout it becomes 5 time faster ,try it for 2 weeks n see the results, but hes right if u train ur leg in gym dont run the same day,my lower body is in great shape i never train my legs in gym never, i run twice a week out of which 1 day i do hill runing and i do weight training twicw a week.running is one of the best way to stay fit :}(my english is not great but i hope i made scence)i did boxing for 8 years for my country, one thing i can tell u .running makes u strong from inside ,mentally n physically:{ cheers.

  47. I am a 45 year old runner and weight lifter and I love both. I run 3x per week and lift 3x per week, alternating days with Fridays off. I have been performing a full body workout for about a year where I do 1 or 1-1/2 sets (the 1/2 being a warm-up set) with high intensity to complete failure and around the 10 rep area. Lately I have focused a little more on running (my first 1/2 marathon) and I have been going a little lighter with higher reps and more diligent core work. My runs consist of 4 miles on Tuesday at lunch time, 4 miles on Thursday at lunch time and are mostly threshold runs at a little slower than 5k pace with my long run on Sunday, so far my longest is 14.2 miles. I eat like you described with slow burning carbs and high protein and all day long. I always finish the night with a slow burning protein blend to help keep me anabolic while I sleep.

    I suffer a bit of heel spur action but have very little injury.

    Best regards
    John W.

  48. I’m so glad to have found this site that encourages BOTH weights AND running. Of course, like most others, I’ve gotten mixed opinions on both and don’t want to give up either!

  49. great post, as a doctor exersise Physiology and an avid runner myself. i can attest that this task is a hard one. I do like your tips and agree with them looking forward to further posts! Losingtogether.com

  50. On the tips: At number 3, do you mean to tell us you run the entire 8 miles doing intervals of one minute sprinting and then 2 minutes walking slow? I find this very hard to believe.

    Your writing needs some help just by the way, good post though.

  51. * Re-read number 3 and okay, 1 minute sprint, another one super slow and then 2 minutes at regular pace for eight miles.

    Unless you’re a very good runner I am going to guess your regular pace is about 9-10 minute/mile? This would mean doing the above routine for over an hour and completing all of the distance in the same fashion.

    I have never seen that before in my entire time running.

    Thanks.

  52. @ Luis – yep, for me (I’m pretty slow) that means over 1 hour. I think it actually ended up taking me 90 minutes (my “90% sprints” get progressively slower as towards the end of the run). I wrote this article a while back and don’t put in as many miles these days as I’m trying to add mass, but it takes a lot of time to work up to the capacity for doing that protocol for that amount of time/distance. If you’d like to take a stab at writing a guest article with additional ideas or better writing, please let me know. I do have guest writers periodically!

  53. Hi Darrin,

    I’m confused.I’m 41 old male, been lifting weights for alomost a year, as I have from 5 to 7 kilos extra, I started running (after lifting session for about 30-40 minutes on speed 9)instead of walking to lose the extra kilos, then I was advised not to exceed 10 minutes running so that, not to burn muscles. What do exactly recommend for me?

  54. @Hisham – there is no evidence that running more than 10 minutes will burn muscles. There is evidence that – depending on genetics, the exact running protocol, what you are doing for lifting, what you’ve eaten before running, etc. – that maybe you start burning muscle at the 30 minute mark but it might be as late as 60 minutes.

    Since writing this article, I’ve done a lot more experimenting (and reading) about fasted runs. I’ll write a separate article around it, but I can say unequivocally that I have not lost muscle with the following: I run up to 40 minutes fasted. If I run more than 40 minutes, I carry some amino acid + sugar drink and drink just a few ounces every 30 minutes. Fears around muscle loss from running are overblown unless
    a) you aren’t eating enough
    b) you do really, really long runs without fuel
    c) you aren’t doing a decent lifting program

  55. Thank you for your detailed answer.
    Would you please tell me if there’s any side effect for a guy of my age (41 year-old)from taking amino acid? And is it safe to take when having a high cholesterol level? If not what is the doze recommended?
    Sorry for asking too many questions.

    Regards

  56. @Hisham – I don’t know of any side effects from amino acids – they are, after all, the building blocks of protein and life in general. But I’m no doctor so you are encouraged to ask yours. If you are using amino acids as I suggest above (purely to stall muscle burn during a longer run) then dosages that have evidence (yes, real science!) to back it up are 5g to 10g.

  57. Hey Darrin,

    I usually run 6-7 miles before doing the weight training. I read your article in which you have mentioned to run after weight training. I tried to follow that, but in my case i don’t get the motivation to lift weights, until my body is sweated. I hope you are getting what I mean. So what should be done in this case, so that the muscle loss is not there.

  58. @Abhishek – so it sounds like you are saying you are only motivated to lift weights if you run for 6-7 miles first? I guess then my only advice is to lower your expectations around getting results from weight lifting, because you are not likely to get many. A less snarky response is to try running just 1-2 miles before, then do your lifting. And then save the 6+ mile runs for non-lifting days.

  59. Hey there Darren,

    Good post btw. I have been doing weight training and also play soccer once a week, I used to do more cardio during the week; however, recently I have found it much harder to find time for long running etc. My question is this, if I do interval training/sprints twice a week will it help with my overall endurance on the field during game time?

  60. @BEn – certainly interval training/sprints will improve your oxygen turnover capacity and will dramatically improve the average person’s endurance as well. If you are already doing soccer once a week (assuming being pretty intense) I’m not sure sprints on other days will dramatically improve your final period endurance. Certainly better than butt-sitting. On the other hand, long steady state runs probably aren’t going to do much for you either. If your #1 goal right now is more endurance for staying intense throughout a soccer game, and you don’t care about other training outcomes (fat loss, muscle gain, etc.) then intervals are the way to go. But I’d try something like this: tabata-type intervals for 10 to 15 min, then a steady state jog for as long as you have time for, followed by another set of tabata intervals (probably half the time of the first set). For example:
    1. Tabata for 15 min
    2. steadystate jog for 15 min
    3. Tabata for 8 min

    Even better though, if soccer is your #1 goal, would be to do two more pick-up games of soccer, keeping your intensity at about 8 out of 10 and saving your 10-level effort for the important weekly game.

    If others have more soccer experience, chime in!

  61. Darrin,
    I am on my first marathon training plan and run 6 days a week with one day of rest. I lift 3 days a week on the short 3-4 mile run days (lifting will now be before the run) and will change a 8-9 mile day to an interval run. The plan also has one ‘long run’ a week which is progressively building from 12 miles to 20 miles increasing about a mile a week. How would you recommend approaching the long run? Goals are fat loss, muscle mass and to finish the 26.2 without dying.

  62. @John – admittedly, there are better places for marathon advice (like runnersworld.com) but I can tell you that generally the trend is shifting slightly away from “putting in tons of miles”. That said, yes, you should be working up to ~20 mile runs. The mental part of that type of run is tough so you should do at least one before race day. I think, per your comment about just finishing without dying, you should approach the 20-miler practice runs the same way – don’t get too extreme that you injure yourself – just finish. Your training is almost exactly what I have done, keeping in mind that my goals are never to do really well on race day, but just to be respectable WITHOUT losing muscle in the process.

    Others have advice?

  63. I was wondering when I do sprints should I do the banana and protein shake before?

  64. For intense sprints, I would not eat anything within the 1 hr timeframe before. It will vary person to person about what their stomach can handle – intense training can upset stomachs.

  65. Oh – and a potential alternative if you are lifting and then doing cardio is to do amino acids, perhaps with just a tad of carbs, which can be easier on the stomach but still start the muscle recovery process.

  66. Thank you so much for writing this. I have been searching everywhere for just one person to tell me that it is okay to run distance and lift. I have been running about 40 miles/wk for over two years and found I was just plain skinny fat – yuck. I started lifting a month ago and cut my cardio down to twice a day 30 mins a day. I overhauled my diet and am starting to see some great gains. But…I miss distance running. The piddly little 5k’s don’t get me that runner’s high like setting out for a 10′er on a Sat morning did.

    This July I am slotted to do a 60K – my first ever ultra. I am scared to lose all the gains that I expect to achieve by then when I have to start picking my mileage back up. This article has given me hope that it can be done. Thank you!

  67. @Kristi – have you thought about the best of both worlds? Something like lifting 2-3 times a week, full body sessions. Then instead of running twice a day for 30 minutes, maybe cut that to once a day on lifting days and then much longer on other days? You certainly have to watch too much running after a lifting day (interferes with muscle recovery) but maybe something like this:
    1 – lift + 30 min run
    2 – 2x 30 min run
    3 – super long run
    4 – lift + 30 min run
    5 – 2x 30 min run
    6 – super long run
    7 – off (or if you are so addicted you can’t take a day off, then at least not a super long run)
    I’m not anywhere near the distance runner you are, but it appears that there is a lot of evidence that you don’t need to put on massive miles everyday and you can still be competitive in ultras. But if you talk to other ultra competitors and come up with a better plan, please share it here!

  68. It is good to hear that I can do both. I have adjusted my diet and for two weeks I have taken in more protein and less carbs. My goal is to drop to 170 (currently 180) in three weeks. However, I find myself not having enough energy for both lifting and running. I believe not taking in enough carbs is the root of energy loss. I am currently running 15-20 miles per week and lifting 2-3 times. What is a good plan of attack with my diet that will help me drop weight and gain muscle without feeling like crap while doing it? Thanks.

  69. @James – it is indeed tough. And the leaner you get, the harder it is. I’ve been in the 10% bodyfat range for a long time and even getting to 9% is way harder than going from 11 to 10. One thing about energy level – have you tried scheduling your carbs closer to the workout window? If you exercise in the afternoon, then have your carbs just before and after – that should give you the “energy” and still allow you to stay low carb. Also remember – carbs are not an enemy. Too many carbs, sure. For body composition goals, overall calorie count is still more important than the macronutrient percentages.

  70. hi to all
    just want to share this experience i had :)
    i run and a lot until i got this knee injury because of doing it wrong
    every day run without rest and no recovery then i decided to stop running and i became fat,,so i decided to to cross train so what i did is
    first 4 months i do
    monday= full body work out ( simple full body work out )
    tuesday = tempo run
    wed= full body work out
    thursday = i do swim or biking
    friday = long run
    saturday = rest
    sunday = short run

    its effective for me i loss weight and build strong muscle and i noticed that i no longer fell pain in my knee even after loging miles or run so i believe doing weights help bones and muscle strong

  71. I am a woman, 171cm tall and 56kg and love to run. I recently lost 16kg running and doing functional body weight exercises and im kind of new to this whole combined weights and running thing (I ran my first half marathon a few weeks ago and will run another in 4 weeks) and your article is really useful! Thank you!

    I am currently trying to maintain my weight, working out 6 days a week with the plan being to do 3 runs (1 tempo 8km+-, Hill or sprint Intervals for about 45mins, and a long run of around 16-20km). 1 day of ab and stretching and also weight train 4 days a week so 2 of the days of running overlap with weight days.

    This is my planned schedule:
    Monday: Lower body Weights workout
    Tuesday: Tempo Run
    Wednesday: Lower body Weights workout
    Thursday: Weights (upper) + Intervals
    Friday: light day: Abs and stretches
    Sat: Weights (upper) and Long run
    Sunday: Rest

    Does that look like an ok arrangement?

    The nutrition stuff is really doing my head in, how much to eat, what to eat etc – i eat healthily and not a lot (1500cals) because i found that any more and I stopped maintaining my weight, even with a workout structure similar to this (i used to do an extra running day but ive dropped it). I really want to drop BF and gain some strength and tone (not too much bulk). Any advice would be appreciated!

  72. @Holly – good for you on getting in shape!

    Your plan might be fine, but my first impulse is that you are in effect doing leg training M, T, W, Th, and S. That’s a lot. And none of those seem like “light” days – weight training itself should be intense, and your 3 runs are intense (in different ways). I’m not sure of your age, but I’m in my 40s and despite eating/sleeping/etc all properly, there’s no way I could recover from that routine if I was striving for performance. Fat burn, sure. But performance? No.

    That said, there are hundreds of ways to get in shape and improve performance, and what works for some doesn’t always work for others. If you pursue your routine above, I’d love for you to tell us how it worked for you after about 4 weeks.

  73. Hi again. I didnt say in my last question but I’m 32. I followed the schedule listed above for about 6weeks and while it was tricky at the time my focus was always the running so if I was fatigued i would drop a weights workout or go lighter. I ran my second half marathon 2days ago with a pb (1:52:01) that’s 6mins faster. For the next 8weeks at least I’ll continue running three days a week but the focus is building muscle mass, so I’ve changed my routine a bit. M lower, T upper + tempo, W core, T lower + sprints, F upper, S plyometrics and steady state run, S rest. I’ll split my weights and running days between morning and afternoon/evening and drop a run if I get too fatigued. I’m eating loads more, an a lot more protien and I’m feelin pretty good!

  74. @Holly – thank you so much for sharing your update. Things sound great for you!

  75. Hi i am training to be a competitive bodybuilder and i am in the aussie army.We run 3 times a week and have a lot of fitness tests i may find it a tad more difficult than everyone else but i still have what it takes and smash the cardio and i weigh in at 100kg.

  76. you sprint for a minute at 90% of your top speed? while interval running for 8 miles? and this is ONE of your numerous workouts throughout the week? if by any chance you are able to do that, no way in hell are you also bodybuilding with anything other than womenfitness weights. you just need to add that you are like 40 yrs old to make it all the more believable..

  77. @bollocks – ha, you are right. I intended to say “90% of max effort” which as you correctly point out is quite different from “90% of top speed”. Thanks for the catch! I’ll fix the actual post.

  78. I love this theory. There should be no reasons why a person can’t run and body build too, using basic common sense that Darrin has outlined. I am a runner making a comeback after many years away and I don’t want to be the skinny runner again. I want to run well, yes, but I want to look good at the beach also. I don’t have to be a champion of either sport but rather, a champion of myself and my goals.

    Thanks, Darrin, for your insight and advice.

  79. heyy darrin ,

    whats better? running after workout or before ??i’m 5’8 163 lbs ,i realy wnt to reduce fat nd want to make lean and tough body

  80. @vishal – there’s rarely a single answer to this that works for everyone. do you have goals for running? or are you just running to burn calories? i happen to like running (usually) and so i know that i sacrifice both muscle gain and even fat loss b/c i run too much steady state. if you don’t love running, you are better off doing sprints or other intense interval work in order to burn fat without inducing cortisol. it’s complicated when you are lean and trying to optimize but for now, let’s keep it simple. since your goals as stated are to reduce fat, i’d suggest running in the morning, fasted (not a super long run though). then lift either later in the day, or at least after eating something.

  81. thanxx sir a lot for your advice well yaehh i only wnt to reduce fat only .sir please tell me about the protein intake and all , i mean which kind of diet plan

  82. @vishal – download the free ebook at the top of this site

  83. Darrin – I am 60 yrs. old. Over the past 10 years, I really let myself go (I was a distance runner), and I am 60 lbs. overweight with about a 35% BFP. UGH! I am currently 250 lbs.

    I joined a gym in late July and have been hitting it 3 nights a week, M W F, and I am excited to see that it’s already paying off. My arms look better, definitely a little bigger and more defined, and my “man boobs” are starting to go away (THANK GOD!). I also changed my diet and am eating much healthier.

    On the running side of things, I pushed too hard too soon and ended up with a gimpy knee. It’s all better now, but it kept me off the road for 6 weeks. Anyway, I’m not happy with my fat loss so far and as I look to get back on the road with power walking (you gotta walk before you can run), I’m thinking of cutting back on my visits to the gym to 2 nights a week, say Tuesdays and Fridays, so I can concentrate more on cardio and fat loss for 4 nights a week (Sundays off). If and when I can loose this gut and get back to a 32″ waist (currently 46″), I’m gonna look much better automatically, needless to say, but I don’t wanna be the “skinny runner” again.

    Am I thinking about this correctly? I’ve made good progress in the gym and I plan on weight training and bodybuilding from now on, but right now my real priority has to be fat loss of the major kind and that needs to come from pure cardio, don’t you agree?

    Thank you sir,

    Mark

  84. @Mark – great to hear you are getting serious again about fitness. Hope I can help. This post isn’t really about fat loss (search fat loss on the site for links) but I’m not exactly high on running for major fat loss like you are seeking. So this article isn’t for you. For you, diet is going to give you way more impact. Sure, bring in cardio and definitely bring in strength training (because otherwise, the weight loss will be a mix of fat and muscle loss, and you just want fat loss). But cardio is over-rated for fat loss. Example – let’s say you eat 3 slices of pepperoni pizza. And so you go run for 3 miles. Guess what? You still haven’t burned off that pizza. Plus, when you are very overweight, running really takes a toll on joints. Running is good for fat loss as follows: a) good to have habits; having a habit of running makes it more likely you’ll still to the more important habit of eating right; b) running does burn calories, just not anywhere near as many as people think; c) when you are leaner – say, <20% BF for a guy, running can help you get really lean; d) running can be fun! But (d) isn’t really about fat loss. So here’s what I’d do in your case since you’ve been lifting for 3 months already: 3 short but intense workouts a week, upper/lower split, short cardio 2x/wk, and then pick a day to PLAN YOUR MEALS. Example: Sun=plan all meals for the week; M=lower lift; T=short cardio; W=upper lift; Th=short cardio; F=lower lift; Sat=off (then repeat, but the next week switch the upper/lower). Keep the cardio intense (huffin’ and puffin’) but <30 min. Keep the lifting intense (<45 min, short rest periods, no yapping at the water cooler, using weights you struggle with to get around 8 reps). There are a million ways to do this – you just need to pick one, and pick one that emphasizing eating right, and stick to it!

  85. Thank you much, Darrin. I had a feeling that tip # 1, “Eat a lot and eat often”, wasn’t really meant for someone seriously overweight like myself! lol

    I like your suggestions and will plan accordingly, and I’ll check in from time to time with a progress report. Here we go…..

  86. Great post. IMO, running and doing weights are a great combination: it makes your exercise regime more diverse, and you get more vascular in the process. What more do you want? :-)

  87. After 18 years of running, with 35:00PR on 10K,I ve started a program where I am combinig cardio and lifting weights; it has being difficult, i am learning and making adjustments; i run two times pr week, swim two times per week and was lifting weights 5 times per week; from this week i am changing weightlifting to 3 times per week; i am eating a lot;

    It is all new for me because i know about running, about cardio, about eating for cardio, most of the trainers know about weightlifting, but it is difficutl to find someone who knows what to do wiht both disciplines so it has being more about self learning;

    Definetly the information that you have posted helps me a lot with the definition of my programs;

    regards

  88. Great Antonio – 35:00 PR for a 10k is amazing. Definitely would not recommend someone new to lifting start at 5 days a week so 2-3 days a week of lifting for now is good. There’s a great free program you can download on this site – link is at the top of the page.

  89. I LOVE this post because it is so true. I run 20-30 miles a week and I do mainly tempo with once a week speed / interval run. I also hit a moderate hill 1-2 times a week.

    I love toning as well as I do full body / dynamic toning movements (none of this one dumbell / one muscle at a time baloney – LOL). My legs are constantly complimented on (the most recent being this morning).

    Working upper and lower body in BALANCE is the key. And I have had to actually INCREASE my food intake (protein / whey shakes are great pre and post workout). I also eat whole foods as much as possible (my diet ain’t perfect – but I’m not looking to grace a stage anywhere).

    Totally love this blog because it’s for pepole like me!!!!!! Thanks for the info.!!

  90. Hey Darrin, Great article.

    I’m 16 and I’m pretty sure that I love running. I just started running last week everyday (still going weight training too 4x that past week). And I’m not really certain if I would be gaining muscle mass. I think I’m pretty fat, I’m pretty sure I have an endomorphic body. Right now I’m really finding an ideal training program for my age and my body. So I’m asking if you can recommend something for me.

    Thanks.

  91. Hi Darrin. I am 31 male, 71 kg 5ft 10 inches. I love running and run about 6-7 miles (at my local run club) Tuesday and Thursdays and then run 6 miles most Sundays on my own. I do a lot of circuit training classes in local gyms (1 hour classes) Monday, Wednesday and Friday I do miss some circuit sessions due to work. I know my main problem is that I am not giving myself many rest days. My running days I usually do about an hour of weight training before hand and saturday i do weights in the gym and a 30 minute hill program run on a treadmill. I am not skinny nor do i have a lot of fat but would really like to build muscle.

  92. @Michael – even though my entire point of this article is to do what you love, the hard truth is that that much running will make it very, very hard to gain muscle. I don’t see a specific question in your comment, but if you want to gain muscle, reduce your cardio and keep it to intervals. And eat a lot of protein. Or, just do what you love and live with the muscle you have.

  93. Hey darrin, I’m 24 years old male been working out for for year n a half. I lost about 20 pounds n been lifting weights n trying to bodybuilt, I am very confused about cardio, I still have a little belly fat that I wanna loose, but I just found out that running to much will not only loose fat but also loose muscles, I run 30 mins after my work out, what do u think I should do??

  94. @Tenzin – it is indeed confusing. I’d guess 90% of people think “running” is healthy when it seems like study after study shows slow running (jogging) just isn’t that good for you. Generally better than sitting around but nothing as good as focused weight lifting or sprinting or interval training. Before I get hate mail, remember, I run! I love running (a bit less than 5 yrs ago but I still like it). If you want to lose belly fat the #1 activity is: eat properly. The #2 is: eat properly… somewhere around #5 or 6 is: lift weights using compound lifts with short rest periods (like 60 seconds or less). Somewhere around 7 or 8 is: do sprinting or other “burst” cardio [this is different than I've written in the past]. I really don’t recommend “jogging” these days for belly fat loss. If you are “fat overall”, then the calorie burn from all activity, including running, should be considered. And if you are training for certain events (like I do for Spartan Races), then running is required. Otherwise, only do it if you love it.

  95. Hey Darrin! I am stoked I found this site. I am in recovery from bodybuilding mentality and want to start running for fat loss. I’m about 20% bf, 5’1, and 122 lbs, 35. I just finished a 8 week sprinting routine, it was great, however I didn’t make any changes in my physique, well my legs may have gotten bigger, haha! Not what I wanted to do. I still want to lift, I could never stop. But I want to run too. My comfortable mile is 9-10 min pace. Would be great to improve this, but my focus is really on fat burning. Trying to figure out a good schedule for 6 days a week. I don’t want to overtrain. Do you have any suggestions for me?

  96. @musclefanatic – i can tell by the tone that you are very enthusiastic! that’s awesome! I’m guessing from your stats that you are female? If 8 weeks of sprinting didn’t torch your fat either a) it was an awful sprint program or b) your diet is awful. (Easy for me to say right?)

    I’ll need to know more in order to give you some tips. Perhaps add those to the forum rather than here since this could turn into a long back and forth. doing this over the internet is never going to give you a complete answer though. And be sure to read through all the other comments.

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