Should You Run after Leg Day? (3 Great Exercises for Recovery)

We all know rest days are an important part of recovering and building your muscles. With this in mind, you may be wondering, “Is it okay to run after leg day?”

You should avoid running after leg day to reduce your chance of injury. Recovery days are important for building your muscles and becoming a better athlete. It’s best to do lower-impact exercises on your rest days to stay active instead of running.

Keep reading to learn everything you need about whether or not you should run after leg day. In addition, we’re going to detail how running after leg day can increase your chance of injury as well as highlight some of the other negative aspects of this practice.

should you run after leg day

So, should you run after leg day?

It’s not ideal for you to run immediately after leg day because it can increase your chances of injury. You can really increase the likelihood of developing overuse injuries if you don’t take proper time off and relax on the rest days. 

Engaging in a high-impact exercise, such as a long run after leg day, isn’t a good idea. Your muscles are already worn out, and this can also ruin your muscle development. Your muscles won’t grow back stronger like they’re supposed to if you don’t allow yourself time to let them heal. Rest days are a crucial part of rebuilding your muscle tissue for this reason.

There are other negative consequences to running after leg day as well. It can contribute to an unhealthy fitness mindset that causes you to put too much strain on yourself mentally. Rest days are important to relax your mind and body so you can fully recover. You can wear yourself out and have difficulty engaging in other aspects of your life when you don’t give yourself time to relax.

Additionally, you’ll probably notice your performance decline if you continually run with sore legs, and as a result, you won’t have the full range of motion to improve your speed or longevity while running. This performance decline is due to you not allowing yourself enough rest time and fatigue. 

Potential risks of running after leg day

There are several reasons running after leg day can be risky business.

Potential risks of running after leg day include:

  • Overuse injuries
  • Poor muscle development
  • Mental health issues
  • Declining performance

We’ll go into more detail about these risks so that you understand why you should avoid running after leg day in the section below. Keep reading to get the low-down on why you ought to slow down with your current “hustle culture” mindset!

run after leg day (risks)

Overuse injuries 

Between 30 and 75% of runners suffer from overuse injuries.

Overuse injuries happen when an athlete spends too much time repeating the same motion and damaging muscle tissue in that area.

You probably already know running is a high-impact, repetitive exercise, so it’s not shocking that overuse injuries are common among professional runners. But it’s important that you recognize just how damaging this practice really is before you decide to double up on your own training.

Poor muscle development

The truth is, you’re not giving your body enough time to regrow its muscle tissue if you run on leg day. Eventually, you’ll break down your muscle mass and won’t notice any improvement during your exercise regime.

Running is a high-impact exercise, so you should really try to avoid doing it right after leg day. However, you can do plenty of low-impact exercises to stay active without ruining your muscle tissue. The long-term effects of this kind of training practice can set you back months in your growth and muscular development.

Keep in mind you want to be working smarter, not necessarily harder! This will help your muscles develop in an optimal way, and it’s just a more enjoyable way to train.

You might be doing more harm to yourself than good if you’re constantly wearing yourself down because you think you have to meet a certain standard that “hustle culture” has prescribed to you!

Mental health issues

Exercise is supposed to improve your self-esteem and mood, but doing it too much can actually be detrimental. You might want to consider reaching out to get help if you find yourself exhibiting extremely obsessive exercise behavior.

You’ll notice big changes in your mood and become fatigued when you spend too much time working out and not enough time resting.

It’s hard to find the right balance between running and resting so that you can have enough time to relax and focus on yourself. Running after leg day can impact your mental health negatively when you do it too often. 

Exercise can be addictive, and it’s easy to slip into bad exercise routines when you start running after your leg days. Fortunately, not many people get addicted to exercise, so you don’t have to worry about it if you’re not pushing yourself too hard. Only about 3% of people with an consistent exercise routine fall into this addiction.

Declining performance

The main reason people push themselves too hard after leg day is if they want to improve their performance; however, that approach can backfire in a big way.

You’ll notice your performance decline when you don’t give your body enough time to rest.

You may notice that you’re not running as fast as you used to, or you can’t go as far as you used to.

Overtraining syndrome has derailed the once-promising careers of many athletes across a number of sports. One example is that of Olympic Gold medalist swimmer Simone Manuel, who failed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic games, and consistently posted slower and slower times as the competition neared. This phenomenon is quite common amongst the most disciplined athletes, as training and sport can be the type of task for which you can never quite prepare enough.

You should consider incorporating strength training into your training regimen to ensure you avoid experiencing a similar fate. In this case, running immediately after leg day consistently will most likely have a negative impact on your overall performance in the long run. It’s better to space out your training for this reason, among others.

run after leg day

Is it better to run before or after a leg workout?

It really depends on your personal goals when you’re deciding to run before or after a leg workout.

For example, running before a leg workout would be best if you’re interested in building mass and muscle strength. Alternatively, if you’re interested in improving your running performance, you’ll want to run after a leg workout. 

You should figure out your physique and performance goals before setting an exercise routine. Otherwise, you’ll waste time doing the wrong exercises at the wrong time and getting gains that you’re not interested in. 

What should I workout after leg day?

Even though running after leg day isn’t a good idea, you can do plenty of healthy workouts while resting your legs.

The following workouts can help you stay active without the risk of overdoing it:

  • Walking
  • Upper-body workouts
  • Yoga & Stretching

Let’s look at each of these workouts.


Walking is a fantastic exercise to participate in on your rest days to stay active. In fact, while it may take more time, you can burn just as many calories and tone your muscles in a similar way as you can running, simply by walking!

You can walk outdoors and hike if you’re looking for something slightly more intense, or you can walk indoors using a treadmill.

It’s important to listen to your body before you decide which exercise you participate in for the day. For example, if you’re in a lot of pain, it would be best to walk indoors instead of outdoors.

Upper-body workouts

You can safely exercise your upper body after a leg day without worrying about overuse injuries or deteriorating your muscles.

Intense upper-body workouts can include push-ups, weight training, pull-ups, or any other upper-body workout you want.

You should be fine if you’re not putting too much strain on your leg after leg day. 

Yoga & Stretching

You can do yoga or complete a deep stretching routine on your rest days to stay active without ruining your muscle tissue.

Yoga is a low-impact exercise that can help you manage your weight and control your stress. 

This exercise is also fantastic if you want to reduce your daily stress. Yoga makes you focus on your breathing, and breath management is an excellent tool to keep your anxiety at bay.

Should I run right after leg day at the gym?

No, running after a high-intensity lower-body lifting session will interfere with your muscles’ ability to recover properly. Running after leg day isn’t only an injury risk, it’s also counterproductive to your strength training goals.

What are some good recovery options after leg day?

Massage, stretching, yoga, cold exposure, and compression are all good ways to prepare your muscles for a quick and thorough recovery.

How should I schedule my running around leg day?

The answer depends on your goals. If you’re wanting to gain muscle, you need to allow for at least 48 before engaging in a high-intensity run. Therefore, you might schedule leg day, followed by an upper body workout, followed by a run.

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