One of the questions I get asked is, “Can I run after leg day?” to which I often answer yes (with a more in-depth explanation below).
Here’s the truth.
The legs are made up of some of the strongest and largest muscle groups. This is why leg day is one of the toughest sessions thanks to the toll it takes on the body.
Although leg day may take a toll on your body, it’s possible to log in the miles the day after—you just need to do it right.
But if you find yourself barely able to walk away from the gym following a leg workout, you might wonder if it’s a good idea to go for a run the next day.
That’s where today’s post comes in handy.
By the end of this article, you’ll know whether to run or not after leg day. And if you do decide to log the miles, I’m also sharing a few tips to make it more efficient and comfortable.
Why Leg Day Is The Foundation of Strength Training?
In case you don’t know what it is about, leg day is a whole workout session, as the name implies, dedicated to the muscles of your lower body. The main muscle groups include:
Although the typical gym-goer may focus on training their chest, back, and arms (the butt for some), leg day is a must and should never be skipped so you won’t have a flip pyramid figure and miss on the gains.
Let me explain some of the ways that leg days can help.
Build more Muscle
When you perform multi-joint, compound exercises, such as the deadlift and squats, you’re targeting some of the largest muscle groups in your body. This, sooner or later, helps you build muscle.
You’ll also be burning more calories as larger muscle groups require more energy.
These exercises also increase testosterone levels in your body—naturally produced hormones that increase muscle mass and strength.
Improve Core Strength
When you do compound movements, not only are you working your leg muscles but your core also.
In fact, you need a strong core to perform movements like squats and deadlifts with proper form and without overcompensation.
A strong core not only helps you run at your best but also get better at virtually all of your athletic endeavors.
I can go on and on. You get the picture.
That’s why the best form cue is to always keep your core engaged when doing compound exercise (and other exercises as well).
Improve Your Athleticism
I hate to state the obvious, but the stronger your lower body, the better runner—and athlete—you’ll be.
Strength training will provide you more power for a stronger, more stable stride and a robust core to maintain good form.
One of the most common causes of back pain is weak lower body muscles. If you want to prevent this—or soothe your symptoms—strengthen your quads, hamstrings, hip flexor, and most importantly, your glutes.
Should You Run On Leg Day?
I might not be against running the day after leg day, but logging the miles after training the legs on the same day might not be a good idea.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but leg day is the hardest because it targets your largest muscle groups.
In fact, physiological stress on your muscles may last up to a few days after a 45- to 60-minute strength training workout even though you’re no longer tired.
Let me explain more.
For starters, when you exercise, your body taps into its stored glycogen as fuel.
The harder you exercise, the more fuel you burn up.
That’s why this energy reserve can get depleted when you perform any type of physical exercise.
Classic lower body exercises, such as squats and deadlifts, target more muscles than just your legs, and that’s quite tiring, too.
The largest the muscle, the bigger the inflammation and micro tears, hence, the more soreness and pain.
That’s not the whole story.
There are other factors that may impact the way in which strength training affects the quality (and quantity) of your miles.
These include your:
- Training intensity
- Training volume
- Training speed
- Order of exercises and workouts
- Recovery rate
- Fitness level
For these reasons (and some more), the run you do following a leg session the same day will be, at best, mediocre.
Should You Run The Day After a Leg Workout?
I won’t blame you if you’ve concluded, after reading the above, that running after a leg day is a bad idea.
It makes sense, especially if you train hard during your leg workout.
But it doesn’t have to be a rule. In fact, you can run the following day as long you fulfill some conditions.
Should you run or not after a leg day depends on your fitness experience and training goals. It also depends on your recovery speed after your leg day.
As I’ve already explained, leg days are very intense, and just like any other muscle group, you’ll want to lift until failure. This will cause your legs to be sore the day after, so you might feel too drained to run.
When should you say no?
If you’re too sore to even walk the next day, you might have overexerted yourself. Logging the miles when you’re in this state places too much additional stress on your body and might lead to injury.
This may not only limit your performance but can contribute to more soreness, even injury.
Still want to run? Then, at the very least, keep it light and easy.
How To Go For A run After Leg Day?
In order to get the most out of your post-leg-workout run, implement the following so you can run efficiently and pain-free.
Start With A Warm-Up
If you’re starting your run with sore legs, taking the time to actually warm-up can make all the difference. Feel free to take more time to warm up, too.
A proper warm-up helps get your body, especially the muscles of your legs, ready for intense training.
Give your body a chance to warm up. This not only helps you prevent injury but also improves your performance.
Keep It Short
Since you might be already in an exhausted state, do a recovery run.
In fact, avoid going after any duration or speed goals. Now it’s not the time for long runs, tempo runs, or hill intervals.
Your goal is to get more blood flowing to your muscles.
Try Compression Short/Socks
This is something I started trying lately, and it’s been working great for recovery.
And please don’t take my word for it.
Research has reported that compress gear may help speed up recovery due to the improved circulation that removes toxins from your body. This not only improves your recovery but performance as well.
If you’re planning on a long or hard workout and are already in a fatigued state, you might need some extra fuel to sustain your effort.
There you have it! If you’ve wondered whether you should go for a run after leg day then today’s post has you covered. The rest is just details.
Please feel free to leave your comments in the section below.
In the meantime thank you for dropping by.
Keep training strong.