Running on a treadmill is a popular form of exercise for many people, but there are often misconceptions about the effects of treadmill workouts on leg size.
Some believe that running on a treadmill will make their legs bulkier, while others think it will slim them down.
In this article, we will explore the science behind treadmill running and its impact on leg muscles, as well as provide tips for maximizing your treadmill workouts to achieve your desired leg goals.
The Science Behind Treadmill Running and Leg Muscles
Aerobic exercise, such as running on a treadmill, primarily targets the slow-twitch muscle fibers, which are responsible for endurance and stamina. These fibers have a limited capacity for growth, meaning that running on a treadmill is unlikely to cause significant muscle hypertrophy or “bulking up” of the legs.
Instead, running on a compact treadmill under the bed can help tone and strengthen leg muscles, promoting a leaner and more defined appearance in your legs.
There are two main types of muscle fibers: slow-twitch and fast-twitch. Slow-twitch fibers are responsible for endurance activities, while fast-twitch fibers are responsible for power and strength.
Running on a treadmill primarily engages the slow-twitch fibers, which are less likely to grow in size compared to fast-twitch fibers (2). This means that running on a treadmill is more likely to result in toned, slim legs rather than bulky ones.
Factors That Affect Leg Size While Using a Treadmill
While running on a treadmill is generally not associated with significant leg muscle growth, there are certain factors that can influence the size of your legs while using a treadmill.
Incline settings: Running on an incline can engage different muscle groups in the legs, such as the glutes and hamstrings, which can lead to increased muscle tone and definition (3). However, this is still unlikely to cause significant muscle growth.
Interval training: Incorporating high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into your treadmill workouts can help activate fast-twitch muscle fibers, which have a greater potential for growth (4). This can lead to increased muscle size, particularly if combined with strength training exercises.
Sprinting and endurance running: Sprinting on a compact treadmill for small spaces can engage fast-twitch muscle fibers, while endurance running primarily targets slow-twitch fibers. Depending on your goals, focus on specific running types to achieve the desired leg size and appearance.
Treadmill Workouts for Different Leg Goals
Depending on your goals, you can tailor your treadmill workouts to achieve the desired leg size and appearance.
Workouts for toning and slimming legs: Focus on steady-state, moderate-intensity running for longer durations to engage slow-twitch muscle fibers and promote a lean, toned appearance.
Workouts for building leg muscle: Incorporate HIIT and sprinting into your treadmill workouts to engage fast-twitch muscle fibers and promote muscle growth. Additionally, consider adding strength training exercises, such as squats and lunges, to your routine.
Incorporating incline and interval training for optimal results: Experiment with different incline settings and interval training techniques to target various muscle groups in the legs and achieve a balanced, well-rounded appearance.
Complementary Exercises for Leg Muscle Development
In addition to treadmill workouts, consider incorporating the following exercises into your routine to further develop your leg muscles:
Weight training: Exercises such as squats, lunges, and leg presses can help build leg muscle and contribute to a more muscular appearance.
Plyometric exercises: Jumping exercises, such as box jumps and squat jumps, can help develop explosive power in the legs and engage fast-twitch muscle fibers.
Stretching and recovery: Incorporate stretching and recovery techniques, such as foam rolling and yoga, to promote muscle growth and prevent injury.
Tips for Maximizing Treadmill Workouts
To get the most out of your under £300 treadmill workouts, consider the following tips:
Proper running form and technique: Ensure that you are using the proper running form to prevent injury and maximize the effectiveness of your workouts.
Gradual progression and consistency: Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your treadmill workouts to avoid injury and promote consistent progress.
Balancing cardio and strength training: Incorporate a mix of cardio and strength training exercises into your routine to achieve a well-rounded fitness level and the desired leg size and appearance.
In summary, running on a treadmill is unlikely to cause significant leg muscle growth, but it can help tone and strengthen the leg muscles for a leaner, more defined appearance.
By tailoring your treadmill workouts to your specific goals and incorporating complementary exercises, you can achieve the desired leg size and appearance.
Remember to prioritize proper form, gradual progression, and a balanced fitness routine to maximize the effectiveness of your workouts and prevent injury.