Should You Run on the Days You Lift Weights?




Running and weightlifting are different types of exercise that are often combined in an exercise regimen. Properly done, the combination can benefit both activities. Running builds cardiovascular capacity, enabling the heart and lungs to move blood and oxygen more effectively through the body. Weightlifting builds muscle and strength. Runners lift weights to gain strength; weightlifters run to increase endurance and lose body fat. Most trainers in both areas recommend a combination of running and lifting.

Weightlifting should not be done more than every other day, allowing at least one full day of rest between sessions, and many trainers recommend a three-day-a-week schedule. That leaves days for running without affecting weight training. You can use these days for more intense running workouts, focusing on intervals or hill training. Jim Schmitz, a former coach of U.S. Olympic weightlifters and a contributor to, says running 20 to 30 minutes on non-lifting days or even after light- to medium-weight strength-training workouts will have no adverse effects on your lifting.

A good program of general fitness combines running and weightlifting, with alternating periods of hard and easy workouts. But those ought to be staggered. You should not do an intense-weight workout and then try to do hard running training. Both activities require a lot of exertion, and excess fatigue from too strenuous a combination can lead to injury.

How you combine weightlifting and running is a matter of personal preference. If running after even a lightweight session is exhausting, run first and lift later. If running first decreases lifting ability, adjust the running distance and speed to compensate. The key is balancing the two activities so one does not decrease the benefit of the other. Always allow rest between any two types of exercise. Try lifting for 20 minutes and then jogging a lap; alternate like this until you adjust to an effective combination.

Runners who start lifting or lifters who start running will see a decrease in their training performance at first, Schmitz said, but this will dissipate as the combination continues and the body adapts to the new routine. Low-intensity running either before or after weight training will increase calorie consumption and help reduce body fat.