Saturday, March 2, 2024

Does Running On A Treadmill Build Muscle

Running on a treadmill is a great cardiovascular exercise that can improve your overall health and fitness levels. However, when it comes to building muscle, the treadmill is not the most effective tool. While running does engage several muscles, it primarily focuses on your lower body, specifically your calves, quadriceps, and glutes. Therefore, if you’re looking to build muscle, running on a treadmill alone might not be enough.

Muscle Building Process: 

The muscle-building process, also known as muscle hypertrophy, occurs as a response to physical exercise and involves a series of complex physiological mechanisms. Here’s an explanation of the muscle-building process:

  1. Muscle Fibre Activation: When you perform resistance exercise, such as weightlifting, the muscles involved are stimulated. Motor neurons transmit electrical signals from the brain and spinal cord to muscle fibres, causing them to contract.
  2. Mechanical Stress: The resistance applied to the muscles during exercise creates mechanical stress. This stress causes microtrauma to the muscle fibres, leading to small disruptions in the muscle tissue.
  3. Inflammatory Response: The microtrauma triggers an inflammatory response in the body. Inflammatory cells, growth factors, and hormones are released, signalling the repair and growth process to begin.
  4. Protein Synthesis: In response to the inflammatory signals, the body initiates protein synthesis. Muscle cells utilise amino acids, the building blocks of protein, to repair the damaged muscle fibres and build new proteins.
  5. Satellite Cell Activation: Satellite cells, which are specialised cells located on the surface of muscle fibres, become activated in response to the muscle damage. These cells play a crucial role in muscle repair and growth by fusing with existing muscle fibres or forming new muscle fibres.
  6. Muscle Fibre Growth: Through a process called myofibrillar hypertrophy, the individual muscle fibres increase in size. This occurs as the muscle cells add more contractile proteins (actin and myosin) and other components, resulting in thicker and stronger muscle fibres.
  7. Increased Muscle Protein Content: With consistent resistance training and adequate nutrition, the overall protein content within the muscle increases. This contributes to the enlargement and strengthening of the muscle tissue.
  8. Energy Storage Capacity: Muscles adapt to the demands placed upon them by increasing their energy storage capacity. They store more glycogen, the stored form of glucose, which provides fuel for intense exercise. Additionally, they develop a higher density of mitochondria, the cellular powerhouses that generate energy.
  9. Neural Adaptations: Alongside the structural changes in the muscle fibres, neural adaptations occur. The communication between the brain, spinal cord, and muscles improves, leading to increased motor unit recruitment and better coordination of muscle contractions.
  10. Progressive Overload: To continue stimulating muscle growth, it’s crucial to progressively increase the demands placed on the muscles. This can be achieved by gradually increasing the intensity, volume, or complexity of the exercises, ensuring that the muscles are consistently challenged.

Benefits Of Running On A Treadmill For Muscle Building:

Running on a treadmill can provide several benefits for muscle building. While it may not be the primary method for muscle growth, it can be a valuable addition to your overall fitness routine. Here are some benefits of running on a treadmill for muscle building:

  1. Cardiovascular Endurance: Running on a treadmill is an excellent cardiovascular exercise that increases your heart rate, improves lung capacity, and strengthens your cardiovascular system. Enhanced cardiovascular endurance allows you to perform other high-intensity workouts, including weightlifting, for longer durations, thus aiding muscle development.
  2. Calorie Burning: Running on a treadmill is a calorie-burning activity. It can help create a caloric deficit, which is beneficial for losing excess body fat and revealing muscle definition. By shedding fat, your muscles become more visible and can appear more sculpted.
  3. Leg Muscle Development: Running on a treadmill primarily targets the muscles in your lower body. It engages your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and glutes. Regular running can help strengthen and tone these muscles over time. You can also adjust the incline on a treadmill to simulate uphill running, further challenging your leg muscles.
  4. Core Activation: Running on a treadmill engages your core muscles to maintain stability and balance. Your abdominal muscles, obliques, and lower back muscles work to keep your body aligned and prevent excessive swaying. A stronger core not only improves your running form but also benefits other exercises and movements, contributing to overall muscle development.
  5. Convenience and Accessibility: Treadmills provide a convenient and accessible way to incorporate running into your fitness routine. Regardless of weather conditions, you can hop on a treadmill at any time, controlling variables such as speed and incline to suit your fitness goals. This accessibility ensures consistent workouts, which are crucial for muscle building.
  6. Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation: Running on a treadmill can be a lower-impact alternative to running outdoors, reducing the stress on your joints. It provides a more cushioned surface that absorbs some of the impact forces, protecting your knees, ankles, and hips. This makes it a suitable option for individuals recovering from injuries or those prone to joint-related issues.
  7. Mental Stamina and Discipline: Running on a treadmill requires mental stamina and discipline, particularly during longer sessions. Building mental resilience can translate into other areas of your fitness journey, including weightlifting and muscle-building. Developing a disciplined mindset will help you stay consistent and push through challenges, which are vital for achieving muscle-building goals.

Does Running On A Treadmill Build Muscle?

  1. To build muscle, you need to engage in strength training exercises that target specific muscle groups. Running on a treadmill can help tone and sculpt your muscles, but it won’t result in significant muscle growth. This is because aerobic exercise like running primarily burns calories and improves your endurance, rather than building muscle.
  2. That being said, running on a treadmill can still complement a muscle-building regimen. Running can help warm up your muscles before strength training and improve your endurance during high-intensity workouts. Some studies have also found that running can increase muscle protein synthesis, which is an important factor in muscle growth. However, this effect is not as significant as the benefits of strength training exercises.
  3. In addition to strength training exercises, proper nutrition is also essential for muscle growth. You need to consume enough protein to repair and rebuild your muscles after a workout. Running on a treadmill can help you burn calories and maintain a healthy weight, but without proper nutrition, your muscle-building efforts will be futile.
  4. If you’re looking to build muscle, it’s essential to incorporate strength training exercises into your workout routine. These exercises should target specific muscle groups and focus on using resistance to build muscle. Lift weights, perform bodyweight exercises, or use resistance bands to challenge your muscles and promote growth.

How To Adjust Treadmill Settings For Muscle Building?

To adjust the treadmill settings for muscle building, you can consider the following guidelines:

  1. Incline: Set the treadmill to an incline to engage more muscles in your lower body, particularly your glutes, hamstrings, and calves. Gradually increase the incline as your fitness level improves. Aim for an incline between 3% and 5% to start.
  2. Speed: Increase the speed to challenge your muscles and elevate your heart rate. Depending on your fitness level and goals, choose a speed that allows you to perform the exercise with good form while still challenging your muscles. Start with a moderate pace and gradually increase as you progress.
  3. Interval Training: Incorporate interval training into your treadmill routine. Alternate between periods of high intensity and lower intensity. For example, sprint at a challenging speed for 30 seconds and then recover at a slower pace for 60 seconds. Repeat this cycle for several rounds. Interval training helps stimulate muscle growth and improves cardiovascular fitness.
  4. Duration: Increase the duration of your treadmill workouts gradually. Longer workouts provide more opportunities to challenge and build your muscles. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise and progressively increase the duration as your endurance improves.
  5. Resistance Training: While the treadmill can help with cardiovascular fitness and muscle endurance, it’s important to remember that it primarily targets the lower body muscles. To achieve overall muscle development, incorporate resistance training exercises targeting different muscle groups, such as weightlifting, bodyweight exercises, or using resistance bands.
  6. Vary the Workout: To prevent plateaus and keep your muscles continuously challenged, vary your treadmill workouts. Incorporate different programs and settings available on your treadmill, such as hill workouts, interval programs, or random modes.
  7. Proper Form: Maintain proper posture and form while using the treadmill. Engage your core, keep your back straight, and avoid holding onto the handrails excessively. This helps to engage the muscles properly and reduces the reliance on external support.


Running on a treadmill can help improve your overall fitness levels, but it’s not the most effective tool for building muscle. While running engages several muscles, it primarily focuses on your lower body and is more effective at burning calories than building muscle. To build muscle, you need to engage in strength training exercises that target specific muscle groups and challenge your muscles with resistance. Proper nutrition is also essential for muscle growth, so make sure you’re fueling your body with enough protein to repair and rebuild your muscles after a workout.

Jassica Handley
Jassica Handley
Jessica Handley is a medical writer freelancer who has written thousands of articles on varying topics, and she looks forward to seeing how can help human beings for every purpose. The health and medical field can be difficult to navigate without the proper experience, which is why her training and Master of Engineering degree in Biomedical Engineering sets her apart from other writers.


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