Wednesday 11/29

42-30-18 reps for time of:
•Wall-ball shots, 20-lb. ball
•GHD sit-ups

A Runner's Body is Not the Physique You See in a Magazine

Your body's preferred fuel source for running is stored fat. That may sound like a good thing at first, until you realize what that really means.

If you are ready to say goodbye to your backside (and I don't mean in a good way), then start running. Seriously. Have you ever seen a runner with a really great perky butt? If you said yes, I can almost guarantee they are doing more than just running, or they are 10 years old.

Listen, I love running. I run several times a week, so don't get your panties in a wad just yet. Running is a great addition to a healthy fitness routine. Key word: Addition. However, you will be very disappointed if you think running alone will get you your dream physique - unless your dream physique includes having a pancake butt.

A runner's body is not that fit physique you see in Oxygen Magazine. All you have to do is go to a marathon or a local 5K and look around. You will see overweight runners, skinny-fat runners and even a few running skeletons, but there will be very few runners with perky bottoms and a six-pack? Why? Because running doesn't sculpt and tone muscle like people think.

Unfortunately, this isn't something people talk about in Shape Magazine. The media shows happy, fit and tone women prancing along the beach in their skimpy running gear because it's an easy sell. Does Nike choose marathon runners to model their running shoes? No, of course not. A marathon runner wouldn't sell near the number of running shoes as a young fitness model. Fitness models work hard to sculpt their legs and glutes into the product-selling machines they need to be to bring people flocking to stores.

If you rely solely on running, here is what you are in for.

More Fat

Running is pretty safe, inexpensive and convenient. It's also very efficient for losing weight, almost to a fault. This is why running is so popular, but running may cause you to lose what you want to keep and keep what you want to lose.

While running can help your weight may go down on the scale, what you may not realize is you could be losing valuable muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns throughout the day. This is good for your metabolism, but not good for a runner. A runner's body is more concerned about going the distance and running efficiently as possible.

Your body's preferred fuel source for running is stored fat. That may sound like a good thing at first, until you realize what that really means. You can go much further on one pound of fat (fat provides 9 calories of energy per gram) versus one pound of muscle (muscle provides only 4 calories of energy per gram). As a result, your body will be more apt to store body fat since it's your body's preferred fuel source for that particular activity.

Runners, who work hard to be very fit, are always shocked when they get their body composition done because many times their body fat percentage is off the charts. While their weight may be within normal ranges, their body fat is normally too high and their muscle mass is too low for their body weight. This is what we call "Skinny-Fat". A person can be skinny, but flabby - and that's not what most people are shooting for when they beginning a running program. No! They want to get fit and look fit.

Less Muscle

Since your body is very smart, and will adapt to your exercise plan, your body makes other changes based on your activity. If your activity is primarily running, your body will do whatever it needs to do to be good at running. In addition to storing the best fuel source (fat), this also means your body will get rid of any unnecessary weight that would slow your body down. Since muscle isn't as efficient as fat (and doesn't provide as much energy per gram), muscle is the first thing to go. I've experienced this firsthand.

Soggy Bottom Girl

I've always lifted weights, but I had a season where I started increasing my cardio and decreasing my weight training. I didn't do it on purpose. It was just a result of choices I made based on a busy time in my life. With less time in the day to train, I started choosing running and cardio over lifting to keep my weight in check. Though the cardio did keep my weight down, my booty started deflating like a tired old balloon. Before I knew it, my bottom looked like it belonged to an 80 year old.

My thighs got flabby, my bottom got droopy, and my overall muscularity started shrinking. Sadly, the more muscle I lost, the more cellulite I saw too. Without muscle to firm up the body and give my skin the support it needed, my skin began to show wrinkling and sagging.  Even though I weighed less than I had over the previous years, I had lost muscle and gained fat. I was happy with my weight, but I was not happy about my shape at all. Something had to change.

I started to look at my workout schedule and I realized I hadn't done weighted squats in a while. I had done a ton of air squats, but none with weight. This is also when I realized I was doing way more cardio and less weight training than I used to. I immediately started squatting, lunging and leg pressing my way to a fitter lower body - and I started getting results fast.

In addition to increasing my lower body weight training, I pumped up my protein and started adding sprints to my runs too. Sprints are a fantastic leg and glute sculpting cardiovascular exercise. Have you seen the women who sprint in the Olympics? O.M.G. If you haven't you have to google it. They don't just win the Gold for speed, they have award-winning bottoms, legs and abs too.

While I still run several times a week to manage my weight and health, I manage my shape with weights. I now make leg day a priority, hitting legs first thing every Monday. If I have to skip a day of weight training, I make sure it's never a lower body workout that I'm missing.

Dave Eubanks