We are searching data for your request:
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.
Women can sculpt muscular legs by engaging fast-twitch muscle fibers.
Jupiterimages/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Running is an excellent cardiovascular workout that torches calories and burns fat, but when it comes to building muscle, a 30-minute run at a steady pace won't do the trick. To tone legs running, you need to up the speed, intensity and resistance of your running workouts.
Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Exercise
You build muscle when you exercise in the anaerobic zone, which you achieve by incorporating short bursts of strenuous activity into your routine, notes Harvard Medical School. Incorporating speed work into your running routine, for example, builds leg muscle by tapping into the anaerobic zone, burning only carbohydrates for energy. Comparatively, running at a steady pace is an aerobic activity, meaning you're strengthening your heart and burning fat and carbohydrates. Although running at a steady pace builds endurance and cardiovascular fitness, you won't build leg muscle as quickly.
Muscles Used Running
Running engages the large muscle groups in your legs. Your hamstrings and calves are activated when your foot leaves the ground, as your ankle flexes toward your body, and you engage your quads when you extend your knee, according to ExRx.net. Your muscles are made up of fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers. You use slow-twitch muscles during low-intensity exercise and fast-twitch fibers to create bursts of power, notes Harvard Medical School. Your fast-twitch fibers churn out more power than slow-twitch fibers, but are more quickly exhausted. Sprinters have the appearance of more muscular legs because they engage the power-building, fast-twitch muscles, while distance runners have leaner legs because they engage slow-twitch, fat-burning muscles.
Hill and Interval Training
Hill training and interval training engage the fast-twitch fibers to build muscular legs. During hill training, you use your body weight as resistance to push up a hill, so your muscles are required to work harder. Hill training helps build muscular calves by forcing them to contract more quickly than they would on a flat surface, according to the Brian Mac website. A sample hill workout for middle-distance athletes would include eight to 10 repetitions of 150-meter hills. You can increase or decrease the distance of the hill based on your fitness level. Interval training -- incorporating short bursts of speed into your runs -- is also an effective way to engage fast-twitch fibers and sculpt muscular legs, according to the American Council on Exercise; pick up the pace every few minutes, then return to your usual speed.
Women and Muscle Building
Everyone responds to training differently, and some people build muscle faster than others. Your genes determine the types of muscle fibers you have and where they are distributed. This means certain body types may be predisposed to building leg muscle faster. However, after several months of resistance training in the anaerobic zone, most women will see a 20 to 40 percent increase in muscular strength, according to ACE.