Every woman knows that cardio and strength training are both integral parts of any workout plan. You need cardio to increase fitness and burn those calories -- perhaps from the sneaky muffin you ate earlier -- while strength training ramps up your metabolism, builds lean muscle mass and helps firm those troublesome abs, thighs and arms. Combining two different forms of each, in this case running and squatting, has certain positives, but could also have a negative impact.
The main muscles you use running are your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors and calves. Coincidentally, these are also the primary movers when you squat. Both exercises also involve your core and lower back to a degree, as your midsection is vital for stabilizing your upper body and torso. In theory, if your muscles get stronger from running, you'll be a better squatter, and vice versa.
Performing squats and a running session on back-to-back days may not be the smartest move. While one is a strength exercise and the other cardio, according to the American Council on Exercise, muscle soreness occurs when tissue breaks down after a workout; it can take up to 72 hours for you to fully recover and stop feeling sore again. Your squatting technique may resemble that of a jellyfish if you attempt to squat the day after a hard run.
Research suggests that squatting can improve running speed over short distances, according to the strength and conditioning website Peak Performance Online. Stronger hip flexors, quads and hamstrings will make you faster and more explosive. It doesn't appear to work the other way around, though. Middle- and long-distance running may make you fitter and give you better muscular endurance, but it's unlikely to boost your squat.
While running may be an intense form of cardio and a favorite fitness activity among women nationwide, you shouldn't expect it to give you a bigger squat. Instead of just going for a run, try hill sprints instead, advises strength coach Nia Shanks. These can increase glute, hamstring and hip flexor strength and improve your lower-body power. If you do want to continue running, leave at least a day between a run and your next squat session.
- Michael Steele/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images