Should You Run After Leg Day? [Cardio Tips To Help You!]

Should you run after leg day? Uncover the pros, cons, and tips to balance your strength training with cardio for optimal fitness results.


So, you’ve just crushed your leg day, and now you’re wondering, should you run after leg day? 

Well, it’s a bit like asking if pineapple belongs on pizza — there are some strong opinions out there.

The fitness world is divided over this. Some swear by lacing up their running shoes post-leg workout for a recovery run. And others prefer to put their feet up and binge-watch every season of Seinfeld (maybe that’s just me).

It’s not an easy question to answer. But don’t worry! I’m here to help.

So grab a protein shake or two and let’s dive in!

Key Takeaway: 

Running after leg day can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. Opt for an easy run to avoid overworking tired muscles. If running feels too strenuous post-leg day, consider alternatives like cycling or swimming to maintain cardiovascular health without risking injury.

Should you run after leg day?

Some people believe that running after leg day can help improve recovery and reduce muscle soreness, others argue that it can cause more harm than good.

So, should you run after leg day?

The answer? Everyone’s favorite: it depends.

Running after leg day can be beneficial if done correctly and at the right intensity. Low to moderate intensity running improves blood flow to the muscles, which aids in recovery and reduces muscle soreness. However, high-intensity running like sprints or intervals, should be avoided for around two days following a hard leg workout.

Sure, these workouts train the muscles that make you run faster, but you can also easily hurt yourself.

Most important: listen to your body!

If you’re feeling extremely fatigued or sore, then give your body the break it needs.

Remember, strength gains come during rest, not your workouts. After all, you damage your muscle fibers during a workout, then repair them during rest.

So I’ll say it louder for those in the back: YOU GET STRONGER DURING REST, NOT YOUR WORKOUTS.

So you can run yourself into the ground every day, turning your legs into a walking Jell-o machine.

But you won’t actually get stronger if you don’t balance it with rest.

The benefits of running after leg day

Besides having bulging leg muscles and looking fantastic in a bathing suit, what other reasons would you run after leg day workouts?

Well, there are actually a few:

  • Increased calorie burn: Running after leg day may help burn more calories, as your body works to recover from your workout.
  • Improved endurance: Endurance athletes benefit from building endurance by training the body to handle fatigue.
  • Low-impact exercises: Light jogging or low-intensity runs are a great way to get your blood flowing and help muscles recover.
  • Mental endurance: Getting out for a run on fatigued legs builds on your mental endurance to push through tough runs.

The drawbacks of running after leg day

As the old saying goes: just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

And the same is true for running after leg days. For example, here are a few of the negatives:

  • Risk of injury: High-intensity runs increase your risk of injury, especially if you’re very fatigued from your leg workout.
  • Delayed recovery: Running after leg day can delay your recovery time, as your body needs to work harder to repair muscles.
  • Decreased running performance: Your leg muscles may suffer from delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) which leads to decreased performance.

Should you run with sore legs?

Like running after leg day, whether you run when you feel sore depends on you.

Getting your legs moving with an easy training session can help promote blood flow, which may help speed up your recovery. This is known as “active recovery.”

However, if you push too hard, you risk extending your recovery time or potentially injuring yourself. For example, you may adjust your gait to compensate for soreness, which could lead to other injuries in the future. So it’s best to weigh the pros and cons of running with sore legs carefully.

Instead, it may be a good idea to try some alternatives to a running session. Check out below for some ideas 👇.

How to deal with soreness as a runner

Soreness is normal when you’re training regularly, especially if you’re doing intense leg workouts.

But there are a few things you can do to help your recovery after leg day:

  • Rest: I hit on this above, but the best thing you can do for your training is to give your body rest. You avoid injury, your body recovers and repairs, and you get to enjoy a nice rest day.
  • Stretch: The jury is out on whether stretching after running helps. But the general consensus is if you feel it helps you, go for it!
  • Foam roll: A foam roller is a runner’s best friend. And foam rolling before and after a run (or workout) can go a long way in your recovery.
  • Sleep: Your body goes into construction mode during sleep. And if you can get a bit more each night, you’ll notice a difference in how sore you are after workouts.
  • Active recovery: Go for a walk, take a bike ride, or maybe do some yoga. All help promote blood flow and help your recovery.

Tips for running after a leg day workout

So, you got your workout in, and you’re ready to go for a run.

Before you do, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Start with a dynamic warmup: A dynamic warm-up simulates the movements you make during your run. So taking the time to warm up properly helps get your lower body ready.
  2. Start slow: Begin your run slower than normal. Then, gauge how your legs feel and pace yourself from there. But keep it easy.
  3. Listen to your body: Pay attention to your body and how you feel. If you notice discomfort or sharp pains, you may want to ease off and rest instead.
  4. Shorten the distance: Shorter runs give you some of the training stimulus without adding too much stress to your legs.

Alternatives to running the day after leg day

Cross-training is one of the best things you can do for tired legs

And if you’re debating if it’s okay to run or not, it’s even more true.

So, try these alternatives to help muscles:

  • Walking
  • Yoga
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Pilates

Each of these exercises has its own benefits, so try different things and see what works for you!

Ready to get some cardio after leg day?

Leg day is a critical part of strength training, targeting large muscle groups and helping you gain muscle mass. And no, adding muscle won’t slow you down.

But running after leg day can help or hurt depending on factors like your fitness level, recovery rate, and workout intensity.

Ultimately, you should take it on a case-by-case basis and decide on how you’re feeling. But, I hope this article helped you in your training.

So let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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The Travel Runner Portrait

Hi, I’m Kyle, and I’m The Travel Runner.

I’ve been traveling and running in exotic locations worldwide for the last five years.

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