Does Running Help You Build Abs?

Plenty of benefits come with running workouts. WebMD says running can improve your cardio health, knee and back health, immune system, mood, energy, sleep, and even your memory. On top of all that, a running routine can make your body look fit and strong. A high-intensity, short-duration run can build lower body muscles, particularly the quads and hamstrings (per Healthline). For toned arms, running alone won't get the job done, according to Livestrong, but it can help reduce overall body fat. So what can it do for our abs?

Dr. Steven Mayer, sports medicine specialist at the Northwestern Medicine Running Clinic, told Popsugar that our core absolutely benefits from running because it's used for balance and stabilization. The more you use your core muscles, the stronger they become. However, just like running alone won't get your arms in the best shape, the same goes for that 6-pack (or 4-pack) you're trying to build. "If you really want to strengthen your core, you have to focus on core exercises," Dr. Mayer said. Let's look at a few.

Add these workouts for a solid core

Nike says that there are a few ways to optimize your runs in a way that helps build solid abs. First, incorporate intervals. A 2019 study published in Frontiers in Physiology found that speed intervals are a great way to reduce dangerous fat around the organs as well as the less harmless jiggly fat that lives right beneath the skin. Adding a few days of sprinting for 400, 600, or 800 meters can help scorch calories that will lead to better abs.

Secondly, cross-train. According to Runner's World, sports like swimming, rock climbing, kickboxing, racquet sports, and Pilates are ideal cross-training activities that will help get your stomach in shape.

Lastly, Nike says to use free weights instead of weight training machines. Based on a 2020 study in Environmental Research and Public Health, this is because free weights depend more on the core for stabilization. So, next time you're strength training, pick up a set of dumbbells or a kettlebell instead of relying on a machine.