I Run Often, So Why Don’t I Have Muscular Legs?!

Alas, the quest for well-defined legs has evoked in us a sense of mission. Feet pounding on the pavement, we literally huff and puff, but sadly, to no avail; not even a calf vein!

Image Credit: http://1tljmj43yo4m291xrgtfdtsq.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/leg.png?

If you are seeking an answer to your muscle-building frustrations, this article should set you in the right direction, but surely it is no walk in the park. Your body’s numerous muscles function differently and therefore require specific exercises for accurate growth.

Just like how dumbbell lifts do not build your entire arm, neither does running an entire leg. Understanding what each leg muscle requires will help you decide on a more comprehensive exercise plan.

Lean vs. Bulk

The very term ‘muscular’ means differently based on preference. Some take pride in the size of their muscles, while others prefer a more streamlined look.

While running does, in fact, give you muscular legs, the type of run determines how they will be shaped; a long-distance run keeps your legs lean while sprints bulk them up.

It is now much easier to plan your runs, decreasing or increasing either type to suit your desired end product.

Call the Calf-ery

Poor attempt at a pun aside, your calf muscles are the ones responsible for the big, circular shape at the top of your legs, but you probably already know that.

Due to its distinct shape, the calf muscle is more prominent, and the subject of many a bulking project by runners or fitness enthusiasts in general.

Calf muscles are actually automatically worked while running, cumulating in a process called ‘plantarflexion’, which is the widening of your foot each time it takes a step.

There are variations of runs that can help you take a step further in building your calf muscles, like barefoot running, elevated running, and sprinting.

That said, caution is advised when you are sprinting, as direct exertion on your calves can lead to injury, more so than the other two options.

Quad Core

Another prominent muscle group –this time found in your thigh– is your quadriceps (remember the tear-shaped muscle we were raving about in an earlier article?).

You may have noticed that sprinters tend to have bigger quads, and this boils down to the fact that speed runs exert the quads more to lift and extend their knees.

Endurance running, contrastingly, does not demand as much from the quads. Here, we see a general pattern where strong bursts of power bulk a muscle while a long, sustained motion tones it.

External Supplementation 

All that said, running alone does not account for the entirety of leg muscle-building; diet and gym work are just as important, too.

Static exercises like weighted squats force your body to increase the amount and size of your leg muscles, and, just like regular bodybuilding, be sure to have a sufficient protein intake to stimulate muscle growth.

According to the Brown University Health Education, 0.6 to 0.7 grammes of protein per pound (2.2kg) or body weight is sufficient for building muscle mass.

"Just like how dumbbell lifts do not build your entire arm, neither does running an entire leg."


Muscle building is like tailoring a suit – you need to know the specifics, and you need to be clear about what you want at the end of it. So, to answer the question at the start of the article: you may have gotten your suit measurements wrong.


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LIV3LY Editor
LIV3LY Editor

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