Top 3 Rules to Build Muscle While Running

Top 3 Rules to Build Muscle While Running

The common belief is that running and lifting, when trained together, are ineffective. Many people claim that specificity is key. If you want to run faster, you don't need to strength train, and if size and strength are your focus, the last thing you should be doing is running.

We understand that specificity has its place in the pursuit of big goals. When Nick Bare, BPN Founder, and CEO, was training for his sub-2:50 marathon just a few months ago, he intentionally decreased his frequency and volume of strength training. However, he didn't eliminate it. Nick understands the value lifting provides him as an athlete. And the same is valid for running during a building phase.

The hybrid athlete approach creates and develops better athletes. We challenge the concept that you can't gain size, put on muscle, and increase strength while continuing to run. For years, Nick has proved that you can (and should) balance the two and achieve audacious goals. Will it be easy? No. This approach takes work. It's a hard you choose - and as many athletes would attest, it's worth the effort.

Want to see how this training style can further your performance and health? The three rules that follow will show you the way!

Embrace the Process:

You may have the goal of gaining size and strength, but are you taking consistent action towards that vision? A lack of commitment is the greatest contributor to stagnation.

Muscle building demands time and dedication. It's a process that requires more than many people are willing to sacrifice. The commitments needed for training and meal prep, intense workouts, fatigue, and the necessity of recovery - these (and more) are by-products of the lifestyle needed to produce meaningful results.

Recently, Nick has seen a common question: Is running harder now that you're heavier? The simple answer is an overwhelming yes. During a dedicated building phase, your body weight should be higher. Because of this, running will be more demanding, and your top-end running potential may decrease. Does that mean that we shouldn't run?

The hybrid build approach serves as the answer.

What does it look like to embrace the process?

It's a daily investment into the actions that move you towards meaningful results. What matters to you? What are you willing to give to achieve the desired outcome? Success requires that you go all in through intentional, deliberate, and strategic action by answering the following questions!

Intentional - Do your actions have a purpose, or are you simply going through the motions?

Deliberate - Are you aware of the outcomes of your actions, are you willing to make necessary changes?

Strategic - Is there a plan, and have you clarified goals and implemented a plan of action to achieve them?

You can’t let workouts go to waste, especially when you’ve established an end-goal. Progress demands a hyper-focused approach to planning and execution. The path towards better running and lifting requires the hybrid athlete approach, a style of training that is tested and proven by Nick and thousands of our community members.

Eat in a Caloric Surplus:

Do you know how much you're eating? The number one factor that will make or break a successful building phase is your ability to eat a surplus of calories. Many 'hard gainers,' also known as those who struggle to gain size and strength, are under consuming calories without even realizing it.

Those who effectively build eat a surplus of calories consistently. Week after week, month after month, you need to eat more calories than your body requires to maintain your current bodyweight. From the outside looking in, this process sounds easy, but in practice, it requires attention to detail.

For some, it's best to track calories and macronutrients to ensure you're eating enough to gain weight. Macronutrients make up food. They are proteins, carbohydrates, and dietary fats, as outlined below.

Protein - Essential nutrients for the human body. They are one of the building blocks of body tissue and can also serve as a fuel source. As a fuel, proteins provide 4 calories per gram.

Carbohydrates - A source of energy; they are mainly sugars and starches that the body breaks down into glucose that it uses to feed its cells. As a fuel, carbs provide 4 calories per gram.

Fat - A source of energy that functions as a structural building block of the body, carries fat-soluble vitamins, and is invoked in vital physiological processes in the body. As a fuel, fat provides 9 calories per gram.

Nick recommends identifying your baseline level of caloric intake, the number of calories you can eat daily without gaining or losing body weight. Once you've established this number, you can increase calories above that baseline, depending on the rate of weight gain that you'd like to produce. See the example below to implement this rule into your building plan!

Once you've successfully identified how many calories you should be consuming each day to achieve your goal, you can design the best plan of action for your lifestyle. Because many athletes struggle to eat enough food, you should take into consideration how many meals you need to eat, which foods will help you eat enough, and how you can best prepare for success on any given day.

As BPN's founder, CEO, and a new father, Nick's days are busy from start to finish. With this reality in mind, he works hard to prepare meals, account for potential obstacles, and often finds small gaps of time to eat one of his five daily meals. "If it matters, you will make time" is a simple but empowering statement Nick lives by daily.

Preparation is pivotal to consistency, so if you struggle to consume enough high-quality food sources, consider how you can use your time more wisely. The facts won't change. You need to eat in a caloric surplus to gain size. What can change is the approach that you take toward achieving that goal.

Train With Enough Volume:

Positive muscle and strength adaptations only occur when provided with the right stimulus.

It's most effective to measure the stimuli placed on a muscle through total training volume. For Nick, this looks like training with the following three indicators at the forefront of his methodology.

Weight - The ability to lift more weight over time on a given lift (i.e., increasing weight on a deadlift from 225lbs to 275lbs)

Sets - Completing more working sets on a given lift (i.e., increasing from 4 sets completed on a deadlift to 6 sets) or total sets across a training session (i.e., increasing from 12 sets of back volume to 16 total sets)

Reps - Performing more reps on a specific movement with the same weight (i.e., increasing from 4 to 6 reps)

Each of the above provides a measurement for increasing total training volume with time. When we gradually increase the volume of our training across muscle groups and key exercises, our muscular system receives the necessary stimulus for growth. The key, however, is the gradual progression of volume. Many approach their training with an all-or-nothing mindset where they attempt to lift too much weight and perform more sets and reps than are needed for their current ability level.

The most critical factor in muscle growth, strength development, and overall athletic ability as a hybrid athlete is your focus on consistent training for months and years.

Do you aim to get stronger and gain muscle, all while running weekly miles? You need to embrace a slow but steady approach to progression. Measure and track weight lifted, sets completed, and reps performed, elevate total training volume over time, and continue to build as a hybrid athlete.

If like Nick, you have a passion for training, both in running and lifting, then commitment will never be the issue. What you need is a structured approach that promotes and encourages growth. Consistently good over occasionally great is the mantra that best represents the effort to put forth daily.

As a hybrid athlete, your path towards muscle and strength gain requires embracing the process, eating in a caloric surplus, and increasing the total training volume with time. These three rules and guidance provided through Nick's Hybrid Build series will provide you with the blueprint for continued progress.

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