Running is a universally incredible exercise. It’s great for your health in general, building up your legs, and just helps you to be healthy overall. Your stamina will improve as well as your performance. There's more than enough going for it. One thing people often wonder about running, is will it tone you up?

Toning is a popular fitness goal for people across the board. It tends to be something people are striving towards no matter how old they are or where they are starting from. Everyone seems to want to be toned, and running might just be the tool to help you get there if you do it smartly.

Toning up

The basis of toning up is pretty simplistic. You need to lose fat and build muscle to give your muscle a more defined appearance. That's it in a nutshell. This is a lot easier said than done, and to get there properly, you need to split it up into two separate parts.

Diet

Woman running outside

For you to tone up effectively, the first thing that you need to think about is your diet. Although it has nothing to do with running, it’s still half the battle if you’re trying to tone up as your end goal. You need to be making a calorie deficit for yourself so that your body burns some of the fat that you have stored over time. How much fat is up to you, but your diet needs to get you there. Too few calories in a day, however, may make things harder as you struggle to build muscle. That's why toning is a pain sometimes.

Exercise

Clsoe up shot of a healthy balanced diet

The other side of the coin is exercising. Cardio exercise is the best way to burn fat over any given time really. Not exclusively cardio, it has to be said, but cardio really needs to be in the limelight if you want to get there in the long run. Cardio in a combination of exercises and training styles like HIIT and LISS is the most effective way to burn fat over time.

Running

So more specifically, how is running going to help you tone up? Well, running is one of the highest calorie burning exercises if you really push yourself. It’s a huge workout that gets your whole body moving through the driving force you build in your legs. That means that your quads, hamstrings and calfs are all going to see a good amount of work coming from your efforts, and they’ll build in size and strength. Perfect for toning.

The calories that you burn from such an intensive exercise will help you to cut down fat very effectively if your diet is right. Not only does your diet determine how you burn fat, but to use running to its full potential, you need to be fuelling yourself in the right way too. The balance is hard to find. Carbs are your friend when it comes to a cardio exercise like running, especially if you're doing it for a long time. Carbs are where your performance energy is going to come from after all. If you want to use running to tone up, make sure you're eating the right amounts of the right things at the right time.

Conclusion

That’s about all there is to it really. If you eat well and train hard, you should tone up gradually. Like we said, as long as you have the balance between the number of calories you're burning and the work you put in, you should see results.

If you want a more defined upper body, consider doing some upper body muscle building exercises like bodyweight exercises or even boxing, but you should still have a good physique with running.

Whatever you do, make sure that you do it correctly and safely. Over-exercising has more of a negative impact than a positive one, and that's not what you need. Running isn't for everyone, and you need to know how it fits in with you and your personal needs. Find what works for you, do it only when you need to, and train smart.


Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.