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Does Running Count As Leg Day? (Can It Replace Leg Day?)

Leg day is like Donald Trump…

You either love it or hate it.

In this article, we cover whether running can replace leg day, whether you should train legs if you’re a runner, the best type of running to build your legs, and more!

Here’s whether running can replace leg day:

Although running provides many of the same benefits as training legs, running won’t build your leg muscles as much as leg day. So, you should still train your legs if you want to develop your leg muscles.

Reasons Why Running Can Replace Leg Day

Running Targets Your Lower Abs

There are 2 main factors when it comes to building a six pack:

  • Low body fat
  • Developed abdominal muscles

Interestingly, leg day helps you get a six pack by working on both these factors.

It helps you develop your abs by training them with compound exercises like squats.

And it helps you lose body fat by burning a ton of calories.

Similarly, running can also help build abs.

Not only does it burn loads of calories, but it works out your lower abdominal muscles too.

So if you do leg day because you want some eye catching abs, then running is a great alternative.

Running Burns A Lot Of Calories

The legs are the largest muscle group of the body.

So when you train your legs, you use up more energy (i.e. burn more calories) than if you were training a smaller muscle group, such as arms.

Also, many leg exercises, like lunges, train other muscles such as your abs and butt.

And so one of biggest benefits of leg day is that it burns a lot of calories.

Well, likewise, running is an awesome way to burn calories.

Because like leg day, it works both the biggest muscle group and other muscles too!

(According to veryfitwell, an average-sized runner will burn around 100 calories per mile.)

So if you train your legs to burn lots of calories, then running is an excellent alternative.

Running Is Great For Cardio

Leg day is an epic form of cardio.


Well, by definition, cardio is any type of exercise that works the heart muscles.

And if you’ve ever trained legs properly, you’ll know just how much your heart jumps out your chest after an intense set of squats.

Likewise, running is another great form of cardio as it increases your heart rate.

So if you do leg day to improve your cardio fitness, then feel free to run instead.

Reasons Why Running Can’t Replace Leg Day

Running Is Minimal Resistance

One negative of running is that the resistance on your leg muscles is limited.

You only have your bodyweight and gravity to push against.

Whereas when training your legs, you can easily add more weight.

Since progressive overload (i.e. increasing resistance over time) is key to building bigger and stronger legs, you’re limited to how much gains you can achieve solely from running.

Running Is Repetitive

One benefit of leg day is that it works your leg muscles from various angles.

For example, lunges work your quads differently to leg extensions, which work your quads differently to squats.

This means that you’re working as many muscle fibres as possible, which helps develop and build your leg muscles.

Whereas when you run, you’re repeating the same motion over and over again.

As a result, you’re training less muscle fibres, which limits the growth of your leg muscles.

Can You Skip Leg Day If You Run?

If you want to grow your leg muscles and build a more balanced body, then I’d recommend you still train legs if you run.

Whereas if a balanced physique and large leg muscles don’t appeal to you, then feel free to skip leg day.

(But please keep in mind that an unbalanced physique can make you more susceptible to injury.)

Is It Best To Replace Leg Day With Jogging Or Sprinting?

Well, this depends on what your goals are.

If you’re wanting to make your legs as muscular as possible without doing leg day, then sprinting is superior.

Whereas if you’re wanting to improve your cardio fitness, then jogging over a long distance is better.

Another thing to consider is which do you enjoy more…

A wise person once said:

The best workout is the one that you complete.

In other words, you should do what you enjoy, so that you actually stick to it and achieve the benefits, rather than putting it off.


Wrapping things up, running and leg day provide many of the same benefits, like burning lots of calories and improving your cardio fitness.

But if you want to develop your leg muscles, then you should still do leg day.

To keep things interesting, why not alternate between running and leg day?

Well, thanks for sticking with me to the end of this article.

I hope it’s been an enjoyable read and that you’ve a learned a ton.

If you do have any questions, then drop them in comments below and I’ll get back to you in a flash.

Speak soon.


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