T Nation

Running Off Days


i feel like my aerobic fitness has declined over the past few years, as i've put on about 30 lbs of muscle but gave up on cardio. how would running, not much, like 2-3 miles, on non-lifting days impact my size/strength goals? i apologize if this question has been asked before, but i can't seem to find a definitive answer.

also, in terms of evidence, are there any people who do run on off days? what are your stats like?

thanks in advance guys


ran mon-fri everymorning before breakfast @ military school

i now run 2-3x a week. usually a timed 2mi, nothing over 5.

i've got pictures in my profile if you want to oogle. i went from a skinny bitch to a not so skinny bitch. i guess i'm pretty strong


we get it, your in the army. Fuck.


running and bodybuilding just don't mix to me


dude, understatement of the century. very enviable physique. i used to be a very avid runner, and went running today. although it was fucking hot in nyc this time of year, i still felt winded and out of shape after two miles. considering i used to run > 60 miles/wk, this was sort of shocking. would it actually undermine my training that much to throw in a couple of miles of running on off days, with one day completely off?

also, HM, what was your workout nutrition like?

thanks again


I would not recommend running for cardio.

There are a few options here if you want to maintain your muscle mass while improving conditioning / physique:

  • Take shorter rest peroids in the gym or incorporate some supersets, giant sets, or complexes.
  • Interval training - Sprint/walk, etc.
  • Low intensity cardio for longer durations (walking at 3 MPH, low intensity elliptical, etc.)
  • GPP work with sled dragging, prowler push, sandbag carry, etc.
  • Playing sports such as soccer or basketball. This is esentially the same as interval training with the sprint / walk or active / rest method.

My suggestion would be to perhaps dedicate a day to conditioning and go to the gym and do some barbell complexes and low intensity cardio. Running will only have a negative impact on strength and muscle gains if bodybuilding is your goal, regardless of the distance.


I like to run on off days when the temps are under 100...so I haven't run since May.

I am slow as shit running, usually go out for about 3 miles, when it is really cool I take my dog (shepherd mix...long fur and 100+ don't mix). I like to get a run in just because it feels good. I'd say I am pretty small for this website, but never felt that 2 or 3 mile jogs have hurt my ability to continue gaining strength. If I get in 10 miles a week I'm REALLY happy and just feel "better" all around.

HM, I've already downloaded all your pics to my harddrive...hey why is your brother pointing that shotgun at your head?


because he's a silly civilian that knows nothing of muzzle discipline. lol

hahaha. i read somewhere that bruce lee recommended being able to run a 7min mile for every 60 seconds of fighting you wanted to be able to do.

120 seconds of fighting sounds more than enough for me. lol.

as for nutrition, i'm not a big stickler on it (then again, i have the 'barely there' abs to show it) i just try to get in 1 gram of protein/lb of bodyweight. other than that, eat a lot, just not like an idiot.

while i can imagine you WILL reach limitations at certain points ie: if i were to walk around at 280 like waylanders big ass, i dont' think i'd be able to hit a 13:30 2mile, anywhere around the 200-230lb range i've been able to keep my 2mile time under 14 minutes, and i don't consider myself a fantastic runner by any means.

so yeah, i really don't see the big deal if you wanna throw in some runs. just keep them short and sweet (and not a bullshit pace)


For the weekend warrior it may make sense to do higher intensity cardio as suggested above. Those with aspirations of competing would be best leaving the running to others.

This is not to say that you cannot go for a jog with your dog, take your bike for a spin, or roller blade through the park. It all comes down to your heart rate and what your body will utilize for energy at the given intensity level. We all know that keeping your heart rate in a mid-range will burn the most fat, and this is also going to be the least taxing on your CNS / joints when compared to higher intensity alternatives.

If you had a specific objective (for instance MMA, sports, etc.) then I would say that a balanced cardio / strength program is your best option. You can help to maintain muscle mass with proper nutrition such as engineer pre, post, and intra-workout drinks. Age and hormone levels will also be a factor. For someone who is 18 years old and 185 lbs they can probably do a fair amount of cardio with sacrificing muscle. For an athlete who is 35 years old and 240 lbs the cardio will be much more taxing on their body and recovery abilities are not that of the younger trainee.

Just a thought; if you feel sluggish though I would definitely add some kind of cardio since the reason why we train so hard is to feel / look good.


running 9 miles a week won't make or break your physical development. Running 60 miles a week will make you tiny. /end

when you have 36" legs, maybe them 9 miles would interfere, but for us mortals with 26" legs, i don't think it matters.


yes thank you shakes for bringing that up.

i currently have no plans to enter a bodybuilding contest. nor am i near what i would consider 'bodybuilder' proportios.

so if u're planning on competing OP, take what i say with a grain of salt


My philosophy:

Get in shape to run, don't run to get in shape. (i read that somewhere)

Running is murder on my joints.

I always think itâ??s funny people in the gym tell me squats are bad for their knees right after they finish a 3 mile run.


Haha you're right. Dumbest shit i've ever heard. i used to run 60 miles a week, got compartment syndrome, and began squatting instead of running. ZERO knee problems...i mean i did tear my hip flexor and haven't squatted in about a year, but that was bc i'm an idiot who thought his youth eliminated the need for a proper warmup.

i have to disagree with you DD on the get in shape to run bit. I consider myself in pretty solid shape strength and strength endurance wise (i.e. i can perform a set of 25 pull ups), but my aerobic shape is mediocre, in that i ran two miles yesterday and was legitimately winded.

i guess i might just try a little running again 2x a week, just to see how it works. to HM, i don't have any aspirations of competition, so your advice is right up my alley.



yeah, you'd like me to be up your alley wouldn't you. you little sugar dumpling you.

on a serious note, just make sure you get a good pair of shoes. and trade them in once you've had them for a few months. do those stretches where you point your toes away from you as hard as you can, then try to point your toes towards your knees.

at least thats what i did. i fucking hate shin splints.



Good shoes when you are near or over 200 is paramount importance IMO. I'd budget 90-100 at a min. for shoes.


qft i just spent $100 on new ones.


I got good shoes along with some quality orthotics, because my feet pronate and are really flat. This cured my knee problems when running. I run about 3 times a week (2 or 3 miles), and it hasn't hurt my gains in fact I feel like it helps me sustain longer workouts. I also couldn't stand the fact that I am all muscled up but can't play basketball for 5 minutes.

Just don't run right before you are going to lift or you're going to suck.