Is it OK to run after a leg day? The science behind running after lifting

Exercise the Right Way and Achieve the Best Results

Today, I will focus on whether or not you should run after leg day. It is a common belief that running the day after a leg day, and even running after lifting, will put your muscles under too much strain, but this is not true 

Many people focus solely on the above-the-belt muscles, and I have already pointed out in the past that that is a big mistake. Achieving an amazing physique requires you to work on various muscle groups including your legs - that’s the only path to a balanced, symmetrical look. Therefore, never skip your leg day!So, is it ok to run after leg day? Should you be running after lifting?

I have consulted some experts in this field and discovered the truth. Read on to find out!

Why Should You NEVER Skip Your Leg Day?

 Leg day workout.

The idea behind calisthenics is, as the name suggests, to achieve both beauty (kallos) and strength (sthenos), and you cannot accomplish that if you focus only on weightlifting and developing your upper body.

So why not skip the leg training?

  1. You will not end up having chicken legs

The strength of your arms and core is definitely a must, but you have to work on your legs as well and achieve symmetry of both halves of your body. Moreover, strong legs are prerequisite for advanced calisthenic power moves in the future.

  1. You will build more muscle mass

I know few of you look forward to the leg day, and I agree that it can be hard and monotonous, but exercises such as squats and deadlifts will bring about overall benefits by increasing the level of testosterone - a naturally produced steroid hormone that increases the growth of muscle mass and strength of men.

  1. You will increase your metabolic rate

Deadlifts will also get your metabolic rate sky high and keep it that way for hours to come making your body burn more calories and keeping you lean.

When we focus on our legs we engage our thighs, calves, hamstrings and the glutes which together make up for the largest muscle group in our body; it means that leg workouts burn tons of calories ( i.e., fat).

  1. You will improve your heavy-lifting

It might not appear to be related, but in reality, your big lifts depend on the strength of your legs too, not only your core. It goes for bench-pressing as well! The key to successful heavy lifting is having good conditioning and all-over mobility: strong legs, glutes, and lower body.

If you want to know more about advanced leg workout check out “How To Do Advanced Leg Workout Without Weights”, and if you have no previous leg-training experience read “How to get the most out of legs and shoulders workout,” and you will find great advice on how to improve your lower body

How to Prevent Sore Legs after Leg Day?

leg pain after workout

The reason behind avoiding leg exercise lays in the common occurrence of sore muscles after a leg day. Why does that happen?

The answer is quite simple - the lactic acid accumulates in your leg muscles due to low supply of oxygen and triggers pain in that area. The discomfort can be so profound that it makes running a day after the leg day almost unimaginable.

So, how can you prevent sore legs after leg day?

  1. Do not skip your warm up!

A well-planned workout session can prevent most post-workout problems including the sore legs. Avoiding inflammation would rid you of the excuse to skip running after leg day.

For this reason, stretching exercises are essential as they will improve not only your flexibility but also your blood circulation. As a result, your legs will not feel stiff or painful.  For best results, do the stretching routine both before and after your main workout.

  1. Do not take up more than you can handle!

Try to be realistic when you choose your weights and do not take more than your muscles can handle. Overstressing them might provide you with a more intense workout and quicker results but can also have contra effect- lead to a ruptured ligament or severe inflammation that will prevent you from exercising for quite some time.  I think it is not worth it, don't you agree?

  1. Rest enough

You should take breaks during your exercise routine, so do not skip them! Resting after each session, allows your muscles to relax and recover preventing excessive stress.

How to Recover After a Leg Day?

If you honor all the advice provided in the previous section and still end up with sore legs, you should allow for at least one day of rest. To recover more quickly you can also try this:


If you get adequate sleep (7-8 hours), your body will recover more quickly- it is as simple as that!

Keep yourself hydrated

You need to drink enough water since dehydration slows down your metabolism and thus your muscle recovery as well. For that reason keep the water intake high on your leg day!  

Mind what you eat

Every fitness enthusiast must be aware that a proper diet is essential during any type of physical extortion, and leg workouts are no exception. Therefore, try to eat properly on your leg day too, and that means that you should stick to protein-rich food that will help your muscles grow faster. Wondering what to eat? Eggs, cheese, and lean meat are a good starting point!

Get a massage

What better way to get your juices flowing than a good professional massage. It is sometimes all it takes to rid you of both stiffness and soreness!

Take anti-inflammatory drugs

If the pain persists, ask your doctor to prescribe you anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen. If you prefer a natural approach, you can try using turmeric or ginger too.

If the pain persists, ask your doctor to prescribe you anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen. If you prefer a natural approach, you can try using turmeric or ginger, An interesting alternative could be to take that CBD oil, as it can can help reduce pain."

So, Is It OK To Run After a Leg Day?

jogging in the gym

Simply said, the opinions differ.

Here are two schools of thought, explained by two types of persons when it comes to this burning question:

The Nay-Sayers 

At one hand you have professionals who state that concurrent strength and endurance training need to be avoided if you hope to achieve maximum results from your strength training. Why?

Well, according to them cardio training hinders the muscle building properties of resistance training on the molecular level. However, they are not completely against combining the two; they simply recommend setting them as far apart as you can.

That means that you should never run on a leg day but wait at least one day instead.

The good news is that even if you do both types of training simultaneously, you can still grow big and strong, only slower. I thus recommend sticking to the periodization as that will make your training most effective.

Another point going against running after leg day is the fact that it is never a good idea to work on the same muscles for two consecutive days. If you still choose to do so, at least keep the intensity of your leg workout as low as possible as to keep the stress your muscle have to endure in check.

The “Yes” Sayers

Many dedicated bodybuilders and powerlifters are in favor of active recovery. This means that they advise moderate cardio exercise a day after a leg workout as well. So, whether you power walk on a treadmill, or you jog for a couple of miles on a sunny day, according to them it will be beneficial.

Supposedly, the running routine will increase blood flow and help your body get rid of the toxins. Sounds great, doesn't it?

Should You Be Running After Any Lifting?

As you could already read, cardiovascular and strength training can be combined into a well-balanced fitness program with only a bit of pre-thought.

Therefore, you can freely combine a strength training exercise like lifting weights and a cardiovascular activity such as running - you just need to plan when to do them carefully.

First of all, set your fitness goals and clearly state what your desires are. Not all of us want to accomplish big muscle mass, for example.

It is important to know that running after weights will contribute not only to your muscle mass but also your overall strength advances. If that is your aim, feel free to take up running after you lift weights and make that a part of your weekly routine.

More good news: In time, such a routine will provide you with more energy to perform maximal lifts and postpone muscle fatigue. How come?

Well, as I have already told you, running speeds up your metabolism and thus helps supply your muscles with the nutrients and oxygen they need to recover from intense weightlifting.

In Conclusion

As you can see the answer to the questions we have asked at the beginning is YES! It is ok to run after leg day as well as after lifting.

It is perfectly fine to combine cardio and lifting as long you have a good strategy. If you are not experienced enough to assess how to combine the two turn to the professionals but be sure to provide info on your training history and style as well as your personal fitness goals.

Leave a Comment: