Fact or Fiction: Can Running Give You Abs?
There’s one thing all marathon runners have in common: their fabulous washboard abs.
Those beautifully toned tummies are the envy of everyone, and no wonder! Scientific research suggests that people with a leaner midsection are widely considered to be more attractive, as a flat stomach is thought to indicate good health, and better ‘reproductive fitness.’
Furthermore, reducing the amount of belly fat you have is highly beneficial for your overall health. People carrying a larger amount of abdominal fat (the fat surrounding your organs) are at higher risk of developing weight-related diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even some types of cancer. Therefore, reducing the amount of fat you are carrying around your waist can improve your chances of enjoying good health in the future, as well as making you look fantastic.
So, how can you go about transforming your tummy? Could running be the best way to give you great abs?
Benefits of Running
Running is a highly effective form of cardiovascular exercise, with many benefits for your strength, fitness, and overall health. By raising the pulse and increasing blood flow, running has the potential to boost the health of the heart and cardiovascular system, reducing your risk of heart disease. By increasing your lung capacity, running can also make the lungs healthier and more efficient. Running also works out lots of different muscle groups, burning lots of calories and reducing your body fat percentage.
The main muscles that benefit from running are, of course, the legs. The muscles and tendons of the ankles, calves, thighs, hips, and glutes all work together to propel your body forward as you run. This action improves the strength, flexibility and tone of each of these muscles.
But, what about the muscles of your upper body? Today, we ask the important question: can running give you abs?
Does Running Strengthen Your Core?
The good news is that running does engage and strengthen your abdominal muscles. The core muscles (those responsible for stabilizing and aligning your spine) are essential for balance, and therefore these undergo an effective workout when you run. Running on uneven ground as been found to increase these effects, as running on rough terrain requires greater balance and greater core strength.
These core muscles can be engaged whether you are running outdoors or on a treadmill. Their primary function is to keep the torso upright and stable as you move, regardless of location. However, running outdoors can do so to a greater extent. This is because you don’t need to use nearly as much muscular strength to propel yourself forward on a treadmill as you do running outdoors.
Running outdoors increase the workout to your core muscles, so it is the better choice if ab muscles are your goal. Outdoor runs also mean that you get the benefit of fresh air and more interesting scenery, and, best of all, it’s completely free!
Can You Get Abs Just From Running?
Running improves the strength, tone, flexibility, and endurance of your muscles, while reducing your overall body fat percentage. A lower fat percentage means that there is a thinner layer of fat covering the abdominal muscles. Some people find that this effect is enough to give them visible abs.
However, running alone is unlikely to be an intense enough workout to build and show these muscles. Even people with very little belly fat may not be able to achieve the desired effect just through running, if the muscles are not developed enough to be seen through the skin.
If a six pack is your aim, it is essential to combine running with other strength training exercises to develop these muscles to the point where they are visible. Strengthening your abdominal muscles will also improve your endurance and performance when running, and can even help to prevent injury.
Best Ab Workouts for Runners
To achieve your goal of having washboard abs, the most effective strategy is by completing strength training exercises that isolate and strengthen the abdominal muscles. This will cause them to get bigger and more defined which, combined with a low body fat percentage, is sure to give you the tummy you’ve always dreamed of.
But, how do you know which exercises are best for strengthening your abs? Here are the top three most effective exercises for building up your core muscles:
What About Diet?
If you are truly dedicated to achieving your body goals, then you can’t ignore your diet. Developing fabulous abs is all about making those tummy muscles as visible as possible, which means that your stomach must be lean for them to be seen.
Reducing your overall body fat percentage is the only way to achieve this. There is no such thing as losing fat from just one part of the body!
The best way to stay lean is to eat lean. High-calorie foods with a lot of sugar, fat, or refined carbohydrates (such as chocolate, cake, white bread, potatoes and pasta) should be eaten only as a treat. Instead, focus on getting as many fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains into your diet as possible.
The low caloric value of these foods means that you can eat more of them, while their high fiber and nutrient content promotes excellent overall health. Eating plenty of lean protein, such as chicken and fish, can also help to promote the health and growth of your muscles, giving your abs more definition.
For runners, it is particularly useful to eat foods with a low glycemic index, such as oats, brown rice, and sweet potato. These foods cause sugar levels to rise more slowly, releasing their energy over a longer period of time, which allows runners to stay energized for longer.
Running is an excellent way to improve your overall health, fitness, muscular strength, and tone. It is an ideal way of maintaining your health, but it is unlikely to give you the abdominal definition you’ve always dreamed of.
Creating a six pack relies on the combined efforts of reducing body fat while also building up the abdominal muscles. This result is only achievable through a combination of strength training, cardiovascular exercise, and good diet.
Develop an exercise regime that incorporates both running and strength training, while eating a healthy, low-calorie diet, is the best way to hone your abs. Just a few small changes to your diet and exercise habits can make noticeable improvements to the tone, definition, and appearance of your abdominal muscles.