Can Running Give You Abs? Proven Tips to Try

Running is considered an excellent cardio workout for burning fat and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. But does running give you abs?

Since running burns calories, this activity helps control weight effectively. Most runners pump and sculpt their abs due to their low body fat content, achieved by regular active training. At the same time, running in its pure form does not allow you to achieve the perfect abdomen condition. It helps you remove excess fat under which muscles are hidden. For this, it is also necessary to carefully control nutrition and add various sports activities.

Is running good for abs? How to build abs while running? What workouts besides running do you need to practice? What else do you need to know about the effect running has on your core? Let’s figure it out together!

Does running tone your abs? You can only get a six pack with additional training. However, you will get a lean core if you add strength training and follow a proper nutrition plan. Runners abs look leaner because running burns excess belly fat and tightens all the core muscles.

Does Running Give You Abs?

Let’s look at how your abs work while running and how it affects belly fat burning. Can running give you abs? The correct answer to this question is complex. You can make the muscles of the core work as much as possible, develop them, tighten them, and tone. Let’s discuss the benefits of running for abs.

1. Running Tones Core Muscles

Abs and core are the main keys to a runner’s strength. A strong core is essential for the harmonious functioning of all muscles while running, good hip extension, core retention during long runs, and protection from excessive fatigue. It helps maintain correct running technique and improve balance.

But does running strengthen your core? The rectus abdominis, lower abdominal muscles, and lateral and intercostal muscles, that is, the entire abs, work during running. On the one hand, this means that runners should pay much attention to core training. On the other hand, running, with its ability to develop the core, is a very high-performance sport.

2. Running Burns Belly Fat

Of course, the most important thing on the way to the abs of your dreams is proper nutrition. If you want to lose belly fat, switching to a healthy diet and strength training will not be enough for you. This will certainly improve your shape but not save your belly from excess fat. However, cardio training will help to speed up the process of burning fat significantly. If you like to run, you are already on your way to sculpted abs.

If you want the muscles in the core area to look as attractive as possible, then you need to monitor the fat percentage in your body. It is from 6 to 9% for men, and from 16 to 19% for women.

Belly fat is burned during long runs. If you want to improve your performance, you should prefer hour-long runs at a moderate pace over short, fast runs.

What Results Cannot Be Achieved With Running Only?

Studies show that running engages the abdominal muscles. In addition, the muscles of the lower and middle parts of the back are in constant tension. Experienced runners who participated in the study demonstrated the greatest tone of the abdominal muscles.

However, in all participants, the degree of involvement of this zone was lower than when performing exercises for the abs, such as crunches. As a result, running contributes to the formation and strengthening of the core muscles but does not allow you to pump up the abs when running directly.

How Often Should You Run For Abs?

Run more often. This advice may seem a little strange to you, but it is true. If, at first, your body perceives each run as a lot of stress, you will soon be able to train two, then three times a week, and then more often.

If you want to exercise every day, replace some of your jogging with walking at an active pace. Thus, you will strengthen your body and prepare it for further loads.

Increase the distance gradually. You don’t sculpt six-pack abs if you run 10 miles instead of 5 at a time. You may even make it worse, as a sharp increase in running load is a direct path to injury.

Increase your weekly distance slowly and gradually, about 10% of the previous week’s miles. If you run 15 miles in a week, you can run 17 miles next week. Remember that gradually increasing the load and regular runs are your best tools in strengthening the abs and controlling weight.

3 Tips On How To Build Abs Through Running

Strengthen abs workout

1. Add Strength Training

Strength training has been proven to improve your running, as well as increase fat burning and strengthen your muscles. Despite all the effectiveness, cardio training may not lead you to the desired result. Add one to two strength training sessions per week to speed up the process of burning belly fat.

You need to do core exercises such as hanging leg raise, plank, reverse crunch, abs roll-out, etc. Strong core muscles can stabilize your hips, pelvis, and knees and help you maintain good posture. And if you choose the right exercises and strive to achieve high sports results with regular but not excessive loads, they will help you build a chiseled core.

Running and strength training work together to reduce belly fat and build muscle. However, remember that when adding strength training to your schedule, ensure you recover well from running training and eat enough protein.

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2. Follow a Healthy Diet

There are many different diets for weight loss and muscle building. However, all of them are aimed at a calorie deficit because spending more calories than you consume is important to build lean muscles.

It is enough to burn more calories than you get from food – about 300-500 kcal per day, and your weight will gradually decrease. In other words, move more and eat less.

You may think it is easy to maintain such a small calorie deficit, but it is not always clear. Running is the perfect tool to help you burn calories while exercising. However, after completing the workout, you may get an uncontrolled hunger. This results in not eating less after a workout, but more, negating all the beneficial effects of running. This effect is the main reason why many amateurs fail to build their abs by running regularly.

The main problem is that you are consuming too many “wrong” calories. You need to reduce the number of sweets, pastries, bread, and other processed foods in your diet. Replace them with fruits, vegetables, protein, and other high-quality foods, and you’ll see your belly weight drop without an extreme diet change.

3. Activate Abs While Running

You can tense your abdominal muscles while running. To do this, you must understand how your core works with your arms and legs during movements and turns.

You can pull your stomach slightly so the draw-in does not impair your breathing. In doing so, you must learn how to keep the rest of the body muscles relaxed to achieve running economy.

It may be difficult at first, so start with small intervals. Tense your core muscles slightly at your normal pace, hold them for a minute, and relax. Repeat this exercise several times during your run, gradually increasing the time and adding intervals.

Once you feel comfortable keeping your abs toned during a slow pace, try holding them while accelerating or incline running. If you train your abs regularly while running, you will soon notice a decrease in belly fat and an improvement in core muscles.

What Are the Best Forms of Running for Developing Your Abs?

Man work while running for abs

Different types of running load muscles in different ways ultimately lead to different results in their development.

1. Jogging

When jogging, especially after long workouts, you may notice some muscle hypertrophy. It will reduce over time after increased training loads.

Jogging requires less use of the core and arms muscles, and it needs less intense work of the lower body compared to sprinting, inclined running, or stair climbing.
But such running has a lot of other benefits:

  • Strengthening the heart muscle;
  • Developing the endurance of all the muscles of the body;
  • Increasing abs blood circulation;
  • Strengthening blood vessels and ligaments;
  • Improving muscle function.

2. Incline Running

Incline running can be considered a true runner’s abs workout. Such running allows you to use more fast-twitch muscle fibers, which train muscle strength. This is how short explosive interval training works. Such work stimulates the growth of core muscles.

Running uphill requires more muscle strength than running on flat ground. Even without additional weights, runners need to lift their body weight, which is already a kind of strength training.

3. Short-Distance Running

Speed training also engages fast-twitch muscle fibers, stimulating muscle tissue growth, explosive strength, and endurance. At the same time, you develop the muscles of the legs, arms, and, of course, the abs because sprinting requires the inclusion and dynamic work of the whole body.

Frequently Asked Questions About Abs and Running

Can You Get Abs From Running on a Treadmill?

Running on a treadmill can help you get a flat stomach and attractive runners abs, but you should add strength training to get a lean muscle structure. To pump your abs on the treadmill, try incline interval training.

Does Long Distance Running Give You Abs?

To get a six pack from running, you should prioritize long runs at a moderate pace. Aim to run 60-90 minutes 2-3 times a week if you are an experienced runner, and increase your long runs to 60 minutes if you are a beginner.

In Conclusion: Running for a Stronger Core and Achieving Abdominal Definition

Running helps burn belly fat and tone your core muscles. However, you are unlikely to get a six pack from running. Eat a moderate diet, choose healthy foods, and add a couple of strength workouts to your weekly plan.

Increase the load gradually, try different running techniques, and remember about a full recovery. Over time, you’ll build the abs you’re striving for.

Do you use running to build abs? What training plan helps you achieve the best results? Share your experience in the comments below.

Also read:


  1. How Running Helps You Lose Weight // Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/running-for-weight-loss
  2. Can You See Sculpted Abs If You Have a Low Body Fat Percentage? // Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/can-you-see-sculpted-abs-if-you-have-a-low-body-fat-percentage
  3. Trunk muscle activation during moderate- and high-intensity running // PMC: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20029508/
  4. Physical Activity Patterns in the National Weight Control Registry // PMC: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4578963/
  5. Effect of Core Training on Skill Performance Among Athletes: A Systematic Review // PMC: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9227831/
  6. Effects of 8-week core training on core endurance and running economy // PMC: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6407754/

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