Leg day is done, you’re feeling tired, and your legs are sore. The last thing you’re looking to do is start pounding the pavements with them. But running after leg day can actually benefit your lower body, despite feeling heavy and tired. It can help get the blood flow back on track.

Learn how and when to go running after leg days to ensure your recovery doesn’t take a hit.  

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Should I do cardio after leg day?

Your body is marvellous. Often when we feel broken, we can actually feel better with some gentle training. It can loosen us up and energise us. So cardio is good, as long as you keep it gentle so that your muscles get the optimal amount of recovery. Go at it too hard, and you’ll find you start to feel even worse. You might find that running after leg day gives you the perfect excuse to soak in the bath afterwards. Not that you need a reason to help your recovery along.

Your cardio fitness is something that can build and build, and keeping your cardio level high is undoubtedly a good move for your body. Running gently will raise your heart rate. Leg day strength training will target specific muscles but not necessarily increase your heart rate in the same way. Mixing up your training will help you give muscle groups a rest while keeping your running form tip top and cardio fitness levels peaking.  


Is it okay to run with sore legs?

You might feel like you can’t walk after leg day, but actually, you are training your legs to get better at recovery and improve things like muscle memory by running on tired legs. Do some serious work on leg day, run gently the next, and recovery will be quicker. You may still find it a bit tough on those muscles, but a gentle run can often be the way to get your muscles feeling more normal quicker.

It’s all about recovery. You build muscle during recovery. So it’s just as important as the strength training session itself.

You’ll find that you are the best gauge for your recovery. You know how your body feels and when you might be pushing it too hard. So it’s okay to run with sore legs if you aren’t just going to give them another beating. When you run, the muscle groups that work will actually be grateful for a gentle running session after a hard and isolated leg muscle day.

You may still feel fresh after leg day. If that’s the case, then running at a higher intensity is entirely plausible. The running level you choose will depend on the session you did the day before.  


What are the benefits of running after leg day?

Strength training and running go together like peas and carrots, and complementing your training with strength and cardio is perfect for your training goals. By lightly running after leg day, you will encourage blood flow and find that your legs feel much looser. Your muscles will ease, and you won’t seize up by inactivity.

Running after leg day can help your recovery and help you feel fresher. As you improve and your muscles strengthen, your body will gradually get used to the cumulative effect of training that you put on it. This means a run after leg day essentially will make you a better runner all round.

Running for the joy of it is all too important. Don’t forget that you can try and make your running part of your recovery after leg days. Mix it up a bit and go running somewhere different, enjoy it, take the dog. Whatever it is, make the running more about fun than yet another training session. That way, you won’t lose enthusiasm for running. Easy to do if you keep on and on without any let up.

As soon as exercise workouts become a chore, you’ll find you start to skip training sessions, and your activity levels drop. So don’t make your post leg day runs hard. Instead, work on the recovery with the mindset that you are just using your run to loosen up.  


Should you go running after a workout?

The sort of run you go on after a workout depends very much on the type of workout you’ve done before it. Whether you go running before and after legs training depends on a few factors.

You’re lower body may be really tired if you’d had a hard leg workout involving lunges and squats, focusing on all the lower body muscles.

It is possible to run and do legs on the same day. However, if you’ve been lifting, you should run after and not before. Also, avoid running at a high intensity.

Suppose you’ve been doing a strength session that involves fast concentric contractions, as well as slow eccentric contractions (think exercises such as squats, where you are shortening and lengthening your muscles). In that case, you should ideally wait around six hours before going for a run. Then, when you do run, you should still take it at a low to moderate intensity.

Ideally, try and get a run in the day after you work the leg muscles with a serious leg day, and your body will thank you for it.  


What else is there to consider when running after leg day?

Leg day, followed by run day, means that you burn calories left, right and centre. You’ll also be building up your endurance for your run, and the more miles you get in your legs, the stronger runner you’ll be. You’ll have conditioning, you’ll be stronger for it, and it won’t be as hard to get out for a run the next time around.

Rest days can often be taken too literally. A run can still happen on a rest day if you are not pushing yourself too fast or making it into a speed session. Use it as a way to keep active and moving if you’re busy. But take it easy. You may have a day where your leg work has been so intensive that you just need to solely focus on recovery, but ultimately, you’ll know if you’ve overdone it.

Exercise often incorporates a level of pain, and muscle soreness is all part of the process. Your muscles adapt to this, though, and it’s only by the breaking down and rebuilding of muscle fibre that you get truly strong.

Running efficiently comes from many different technique practices, so learning to run again after leg day is just one more way to hone your running skills.