As a running enthusiast, my friends often ask me if running after leg day is bad. One thing I know for sure is that a leg-focused workout can leave your body feeling extremely sore.
This begs the question, is running after leg day bad?
If you suffer from muscle fever, or what most people call delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), performing simple tasks such as climbing the stairs or moving around your house is likely to be a hassle. And you might not particularly jump at the idea of pounding the pavement when your body is in so much pain.
But what if I told you that running after leg day is not bad?
Going for a run after a leg day can help your recovery and boost your mood after an intense workout. Important to note is that over time, the intense leg day workouts and running afterward will improve your muscle strength and make you a better runner all around.
In this guide, you’ll learn more about popular leg day exercises, why you shouldn’t hesitate to run after them, how you can get the most out of the cardio exercise, and if there’s a catch.
Let’s get the ball rolling!
What a Typical Leg Day Looks Like
Leg days vary depending on who’s doing them, their training goals, and the leg exercises they prefer. Even so, the primary goal is always to engage your leg muscles and build a stronger lower body.
Check out some of the top exercises I incorporate into a good leg session.
Front and Back Squats
These leg-day exercises target the front and back of your body, strengthening the bones and tendons around your leg muscles.
A goblet squat is your next best option if you don’t fancy a back squat. It works your glutes, quads, calves, and the whole core. Prioritize this exercise on leg day because it doesn’t just benefit your legs – it’s great for your upper body as well since it also works the arms and improves your grip strength.
I recommend this leg day exercise for those looking to work their hamstrings, hips, and quads. Besides, it works magic for fitness enthusiasts seeking to challenge their balance.
This is an effective exercise for leg day, especially if you long to build power and endurance in your lower body, all in one move. Ideally, box jumps work the hamstrings, quads, calves, abductors, and glutes.
Looking for an effective muscle builder that also boosts your balance? Ensure the reverse lunge is in your leg workout. Make sure to include a barbell or a heavy dumbbell to get the most out of it.
The good morning leg day exercise works the muscles in your posterior chain (along the backside) and strengthens your hamstrings and glutes.
As its name suggests, a glute bridge targets your glutes. Besides activating them, this exercise also improves your core strength and stability and enables you to build powerful hip flexors.
The leg press benefits fitness lovers interested in developing their quadriceps and gluteal muscles. The leg day exercise also minimizes your risk of injury and does a pretty fantastic job of impending age-related muscle loss.
Nordic Hamstring Curl
This leg day exercise allows you to build stronger hamstring muscles and prevent injury caused by eccentric emphasis.
In the same way the Nordic hamstring curl above targets your hamstrings, the leg curl strengthens the skeletal muscles. In addition, it activates the thighs and butt.
Single Leg Deadlift
This hip-hinge movement is among the best exercises for building back, leg, and core strength. Furthermore, it’s good for your hamstring muscles. And it helps you take your movement and balance skills up a notch.
This widely-preferred leg day exercise builds your glutes, calves, and hamstrings and improves your hip and lower back mobility.
Of course, you can’t perform each of these fun and effective exercises in a single leg session. My advice is to pick those that bring the fire to your leg day and switch every so often – versatility is key to your strength training.
Life After Leg Day
I can’t promise you that the moments or hours after leg day will be easy. This training activity engages your largest muscle groups, causing you to work more muscle mass.
If you have a high-intensity leg day, your legs will be in pain, and you might not even want to step foot in a gym again. Fortunately, you can leverage several effective tips to aid your recovery after a leg day.
For starters, get a good night’s sleep after a hard leg workout. Rest for about eight hours. It could be the best thing you do for your sore muscles because it enables them to heal and grow.
Something else you should do to recover after leg day is stick to a healthy diet. Protein-rich options are ideal because they accelerate muscle growth.
Also, remember to drink 2-3 liters of water on that day – good hydration boosts your metabolism, improves blood flow, and eventually helps your muscles recover faster.
Another tried and tested way to expedite active recovery after leg day is low-intensity exercises such as walking or swimming. They eliminate toxins that may have built up in your body during your leg workout, increase blood flow, and restore your muscles, which is the ultimate goal.
If swimming or walking isn’t your thing, how about running after leg day?
Running on Leg Day
It is advisable to run after leg day because it’s one of the best cardio exercises to speed up active recovery.
However, running a few hours after a hard leg workout or on the same day can be a bad idea.
The thing is, leg workouts can be unbelievably taxing, and your muscles don’t need the additional stress as they’re already inflamed.
Besides, exercising cardio on the same day as working your lower body only burns more energy by leveraging your body’s stored glycogen. By the end of your running session, you’ll be too knackered to do anything else, and your muscles will likely be twice as sore.
At this point, you’re probably wondering why I recommend running after leg day if it only leads to more pain. Well, the key to getting the most out of this simple exercise is doing it at the right time, in this case – the following day.
Let me elaborate on that.
Running After Leg Day
Going for a low or moderate-intensity run the day after your hard leg workout isn’t bad, contrary to popular perception. In fact, it could make all the difference in your active recovery journey.
Your body has already enjoyed 7-8 hours of rest, so your muscles might be less sore. And you could use all the perks running after leg day presents, including the following.
A Balance Between Strength Training and Cardio
I recommend running after an intense lower-body workout because it enables you to strike a much-needed balance between weight training and cardio exercises.
Sure, you can lift weights whenever you deem it convenient. But you don’t want to focus solely on one form of training, as attaining your fitness goals could take longer than anticipated.
Ideally, combining or alternating between cardio exercises like running and strength training comes with some pretty awesome benefits, such as:
- Improved general fitness as your body burns more calories and becomes more flexible and balanced.
- More efficient endurance training since your muscles receives more blood and oxygen, allowing them to heal and grow faster.
- Better sleep because your body utilizes more energy and needs to recover through rest.
- Minimal risk of injury since some of your muscle groups can rest while you work others, preventing overtraining.
Reduced Muscle Soreness
Running after leg day is a surefire way to relieve delayed onset muscle soreness.
Here’s what happens.
When you step out for a moderate run after a leg workout, you boost your circulation, making way for your tired leg muscles to access more nutrients and oxygen. Consequently, this speeds up their recovery process, meaning you’ll no longer be in pain due to muscle fever.
Prepping to Run After Leg Day
If you want to relish all the benefits of running after leg day, prepare adequately. Check out these helpful tips to help you do that.
Invest In the Right Gear
The last thing you should do is go running in jeans after a leg-focused workout. They’ll rub against your skin, making you super uncomfortable and limiting your motion.
Enjoy your run after leg day by wearing the right gear. It should include a comfy pair of tights or running shorts, a t-shirt, preferably made of polyester, nylon, or wool fabric with moisture-wicking capabilities, and properly fitting running shoes.
A good warm-up has blood flowing to every part of your body, including the legs. This helps get them ready for easy cardio exercises.
If you’re running short of ideas to warm up before leg workouts, try stretching, jogging slowly, low-impact jumping jacks, or jumping rope.
The Downsides of Running After Leg Day
Despite its amazing advantages, running after leg day has some drawbacks. And it’s best to let you know about them before considering cardio exercise.
First, doing heavy squats, tempo runs, step-ups, or other exercises you consider great for your legs and running the following day doesn’t help you build muscle. The truth is that this activity facilitates weight loss, making it ill-suited for those looking to boost muscle mass.
In addition, running after leg day makes you more susceptible to injury.
Envision this; you performed a hard workout yesterday. Your muscle fibers haven’t healed completely, you have sore legs, and your entire lower body is trembling. Doubtlessly, your coordination is poor, and you don’t have enough strength or energy to watch every step – your chances of tripping are pretty high.
Hopefully, you now have a comprehensive answer on whether or not it is good to run after leg day. There’s nothing wrong with starting a new running routine to enjoy the next day after a hard workout targeting your legs. But we can agree that it all comes down to your fitness goals – meaning it’s great for you if you’re interested in fat loss and unsuitable if you strive to build muscle.
Of course, you can always say no to running after a hard workout meant to engage just your legs if you’re in a lot of pain – overexerting yourself does more harm than good. Instead, enjoy your rest day as you await your next workout.
Frequently Asked Questions on Running After Leg Day
Should I work my legs and run on the same day?
I wouldn’t advise you to do a hard leg workout and run on one day as the stress might be too much on your already sore legs, and you could be in pain for a longer period. It’s best to rest and try the run the following day.
Is it bad to run before leg day?
If your goal is to build muscle, run before your leg-focused workout, as it’s more effective in helping you achieve the same.
Will my sore legs hurt more if I run?
It depends on the intensity of your run. Running at a moderate pace can promote your muscles’ recovery and alleviate pain.