How Running Changes Your Physique

We’ve seen several health benefits of running, however, let’s admit that some of us are more interested in how running changes our physique.

Will running make your butt and thighs big? Will it make you skinnier? Will you have abs just by running? These are just a few of the most common questions asked with regards to running. 

In this article, we will look at how running changes the shape of your body and we’ll answer some of the most common questions asked with regards to how running affects your physique. 

8 Ways Running Changes Your Body Shape

  • It burns belly fats
  • It tones your legs
  • Running uphill makes your butt and thigh bigger
  • It reveals your abs
  • Tone your upper body
  • It will develop your calves
  • It makes your boobs smaller
  • It can make you look skinnier

Running will burn your belly fats

it reveals your abs

Studies have shown that running in moderate to high intensity burns belly fat, even without changing your diet in overweight and obese individuals. 

And not just your belly fat, your overall fats in general. 

This means that you can say goodbye to your oversized jeans by simply running 30-60 mins a day. 

It tones your legs

running tones your legs

Contrary to what most women believe, running at a moderate pace doesn’t make your legs big. As a matter of fact, running only tones your legs by burning the fats.

That means, whatever muscle you have underneath your fats will only be revealed. 

If you want to get bigger legs by running, consider doing sprints and adding strength training to your program. 

Running uphill will make your butt and thigh bigger

running will make your butt bigger

If you want to have an irresistible butt and a well-defined thigh, consider running uphill. 

Muscles develop when you put them under load or resistance. By running uphill, you’re using gravity to add resistance which will increase the size of the involved muscles up to a point. 

In this case, the involved muscles are your butt, your hamstrings, and your calves. 

But don’t expect to get legs as big as Arnold Schwarzenegger or the butt of a fitness model. 

When your body adapts to the load, it will reach a plateau and it will remain that way unless you apply an overload by going to a steeper hill or adding resistance exercise to your program. 

It reveals your abs

You’ve done countless sit-ups and leg raises this past 3 months but you are yet to see them. Well, start running. 

You probably already have well-defined abs, however, it is covered by your belly fats. If you start running, you will start to burn those fats and reveal your hard-earned abs. 

When you reduce your body fat percentage to 14-20% for women or 6-13% for men, you will start to see the definition of your abs. 

It will tone your upper body

toned upper body

Despite running being a lower extremity dominant workout, it also tones down your upper body by burning your overall fats. 

That means you will get sculpted arms, well-defined abs, chest, and back by adding running to your exercise routine. 

It will develop your calves

Neutral vs. stability running shoes

Want calves muscles everybody can envy? Start running. 

Running puts your calf muscles to work repetitively over a long period of time. That means, your calf muscles have no choice but to adapt to the workload by becoming more developed. 

Calf muscles are more defined with forefoot runners and those who regularly run uphill.  

It will make your boobs smaller

How to Keep Shorts from Riding up While Running -

A portion of your boobs is made of adipose tissue or fats. This means, by reducing the overall fats in your body, you also reduce a portion of your breast size. 

It can make you look skinnier

it can make you look skinnier

Running in excess can make you look skinnier. 

As a general rule, if you want to lose fat without burning away your muscles, limit your cardio to a maximum of 1 hour a day. 

Tips on how to use running to get leaner, not skinnier

Running is a great exercise. However, running too much will also make you look very skinny. 

If your main goal is to use running as a tool to look lean instead of skinny, then follow these 4 tips I listed below. 

  • Eat adequate carbs and protein: It’s important to get the proper nutrients your body needs to burn fats without burning your muscle. Get protein and carbs from high-quality sources such as eggs and lean meat for protein and vegetables and fruits for carbs. 
  • Limit your running to an hour: While running more seems to be tempting once you enter the sweet zone called runner’s high, you should limit your running to an hour to make sure you don’t burn your muscles. I suggest going for 20-45 mins a day.
  • Mix it up: Get more benefits from running by mixing up your fast runs and long runs. Include HIIT, tempo runs, easy runs, and long runs to your program. 
  • Always do resistance exercise: Running is a good exercise. However, it does not help you build muscle. That is why you must do resistance exercise at least 3 times a week. You can lift, do calisthenics or work with a resistance band. 


Does running make your legs bigger?

Running at a moderate pace on even ground will not make your legs bigger. It will only tone it. However, sprinting and running uphill will make your legs bigger.

Will running make my butt smaller?

If your butt is composed of fats instead of muscle, running will make it smaller. 

The good thing is, if you add glute exercises such as deadlifts, squats, and leg extensions to your program, it will replace the fats in your butt with muscles which will make it more round and firm. 

Will running make me skinny?

Running 30-45 mins a day will not make you skinny, it will only tone your body. However, running for hours each day like what ultramarathon athletes do will make you skinny in the long run. 

Does running give you abs?

No, running alone will not give you abs. However, it will reveal the inner musculature you have underneath your belly fat. 

So if you already have abs underneath that slab of fat and you start running, you can say running helps give you abs. 

Does running make your calves bigger?

Yes, running will make your calves bigger.

Does running make your butt bigger?

Yes, running can make your butt bigger. But you have to focus more on sprinting and running uphill. 

Running at an easy to moderate pace on an even surface does not produce enough stimuli to cause muscle overload. 

Does running make your thighs smaller?

Yes, running will make your thighs smaller if your thighs have a high-fat percentage. If your thighs have a low-fat percentage, running moderately will not affect their size. 

Does running make you gain weight?

No, as a matter of fact, running will make you lose weight. 

The rule of weight loss is simple: burn more calories than you eat. In other words, running will help you burn more calories and therefore will help you lose weight. 

The problem lies in your habits after you run. Some people eat so much after running because they think that they can “reward” themselves for their hard work. Pair that with the increased appetite after a hard day’s work, they start eating more than they burn. 

For best results, pair running with a strict and healthy diet. 

Final thoughts

Running brings lots of benefits to your general health and physique. That is why I highly encourage you to start running. 

All you need is a good pair of running shoes and a route.

If you need to know how to find a good pair of running shoes, I made an article that will teach you how. Check it out.

Nicho Mauricio

Running wasn't always my favorite sport. I was a CrossFit athlete and I loved every bit of it. But since the pandemic began, I was forced to stay away from the gym and train at home instead. Things got boring. That's when I decided to trail run with my friends. I instantly got hooked. So I started training and researching all things running. As a beginner, I want to buy only the best running gear and do only the best practices. This blog is where I share what I've learned in my journey and my experiences as a runner.

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