Running is one of the most popular and accessible forms of exercise. It requires little equipment, can be done anywhere, and has numerous health benefits. However, many people wonder if running has any effects on the size and shape of the glutes (butt muscles). Here is a comprehensive look at the effects of running on the glutes and lower body.
Does Running Grow Your Glutes?
The short answer is: yes, running can make your butt bigger IF it is done correctly and combined with the right diet and lifestyle factors.
Running is classified as a cardiovascular endurance exercise. This means it involves repetitive motions using large muscle groups that raise your heart rate for an extended period. The constant contractions of the glutes and leg muscles during running provide a strength training stimulus overtime that can lead to muscle growth.
Numerous studies show that endurance runners have greater muscle mass, strength, and power in their lower bodies compared to non-runners or upper body athletes. The key glute muscles involved in running include the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus.
Research has found that female distance runners have 17% larger gluteus maximus muscles and 10% larger gluteus medius muscles compared to non-athletes. The muscle fibers of the butt also increase in thickness and size from running training.
Therefore, running absolutely has the potential to build your glutes and make your butt more lifted, toned, and larger – especially if you are new to running or increase your mileage. However, running alone is often not enough to maximally work the glutes. The right strength training should be combined with running to really sculpt and grow your butt.
Optimal Running for Glute Growth
To maximize the benefits to your butt, follow these running guidelines:
- Perform a variety of running workouts like long runs, tempo runs, hills, and intervals. This provides full stimulation of the glutes.
- Increase your weekly running mileage gradually over time to continually challenge your muscles.
- Run 3-5 times per week to allow for adequate rest and recovery.
- Focus on proper running form – stay upright, mid/forefoot strike, full stride length, engage your core.
- Combine running with 2-3 lower body/glute strength training days per week.
- Follow a diet with sufficient protein and calories to support muscle growth.
Why Running Alone May Not Grow Your Glutes
While running can activate and strengthen the glutes, it has limitations:
- Running has a limited range of motion that does not fully contract the glutes through their full potential.
- It emphasizes muscle endurance rather than maximum power and strength.
- Other muscles like the quads take over due to muscle imbalances.
- Most running volume is done at low/moderate intensities, not high muscle-building intensities.
That’s why it is crucial to complement running training with targeted glute exercises like squats, lunges, hip thrusts etc. that incorporate progressive overload with heavier weights and high intensities.
Strength Training for Bigger Glutes
To maximize the size and shape of your glutes, combine running with strength training that focuses on the butt muscles 2-3 days per week.
- Prioritize glute-focused exercises like squats, lunges, bridges, hip thrusts.
- Use heavier weights and lower reps to maximize strength and muscle growth.
- Get a full range of motion by going deep in squats and thrusting hips high in bridges.
- Include unilateral moves like single leg squats and lunges to prevent imbalances.
- Perform 3-5 sets of 6-12 reps per exercise.
- Progressively overload by increasing weight lifted over time.
- Allow for 1-2 days recovery between strength sessions.
This combination of targeted strength training plus cardiovascular running is the best recipe for sculpting and growing your glutes.
Other Lifestyle Factors
To complement your training, support glute growth with these lifestyle factors:
- Eat in a slight calorie surplus of 300-500 extra calories per day to fuel muscle growth.
- Consume 0.5-0.7 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight to provide amino acids for your glutes.
- Eat plenty of complex carbs to fuel your workouts and recovery.
- Include healthy fats for hormones and joint health.
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep per night for muscle repair.
- Incorporate rest days and deload weeks to prevent overtraining.
- Use foam rolling, massage, and stretching to improve mobility.
- Take occasional cold baths or contrast showers to reduce inflammation.
Reducing Body Fat
- To reveal more toned, defined glutes, lower overall body fat by being in a slight calorie deficit.
- Monitor changes in body composition over time.
- Combine running with full body strength training to preserve muscle.
How Soon Will You See Results?
How quickly you see results in your glutes depends on several factors:
- Training Age – Beginners tend to gain muscle faster than experienced gym-goers.
- Program – An optimized workout and nutrition program will produce better results.
- Consistency – You must train and diet consistently to see ongoing gains.
- Genetics – Some naturally build muscle easier than others.
In general, noticeable muscle growth takes consistent training and dieting for 6-12 weeks. However, building your glutes takes continued dedication over months and years. It is a long-term training investment that requires patience.
Male vs Female Glute Growth
Due to differences in hormones and anatomy, men and women often require slightly different training approaches:
- Higher estrogen levels allow more lower body fat storage.
- Wider pelvis and hip structure favors glute growth.
- More fast-twitch muscle fibers for explosive power.
- Train glutes 2-4 times per week for shaping/building.
- Higher testosterone facilitates greater overall muscle growth.
- Narrower pelvis reduces emphasis on glutes.
- More slow-twitch fibers better for endurance.
- Train glutes 2-3 times per week for maximum development.
However, the basic principles of progressive overload, caloric surplus, and exercise selection apply equally to both genders. With dedication, anyone can build impressive glutes.
Sample Glute Workout
Here is a sample strength workout to complement your running and build bigger glutes:
5 minutes light cardio
Glute bridges – 2 sets x 10-15 reps
Squat to stand – 2 sets x 10 reps
|Barbell back squat||4||8-10|
|Single leg hip thrust||3||10-12 each side|
|Barbell hip thrust||3||12-15|
|Dumbbell Romanian deadlift||3||10-12|
|Barbell glute bridge||3||15-20|
Mini band walk – 3 sets x 15 steps each side
Running absolutely can increase glute size and lift your butt IF it is done properly and combined with targeted strength training. To maximize results:
- Progress your running volume and intensity gradually
- Perfect running form to fully engage the glutes
- Lift heavy weights with compound glute exercises
- Train glutes 2-4 times per week
- Eat in a slight calorie surplus
- Be patient and consistent with your training
With the right training approach and some dedication, it is completely possible to achieve a sculpted, toned, and muscular backside from running. Just be sure to put in the necessary strength work to complement all those miles!