Does Running Give You Abs? Learn All You Need To Know Here

If you have been watching the bodies of seasoned runners, you will notice their nicely toned body and much coveted six pack abs. If you have been running for some time now and still don’t have abs, you are probably wondering what the secret to getting those abs is. Does running give you abs? The answer may surprise you.


What Running Could Do

One way that running can contribute to your goal of getting those six pack abs is the fact that it burns fat especially belly fat. According to one study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, jogging up to 20 miles a week can result in loss of visceral and subcutaneous belly fat. (1)

  • Getting rid of your belly fat is the first and very important step you need to take before you even start developing abs and running can indeed help you do that.

Another benefit you get out of the running is that it can help promote core endurance. When you run, the abdominal muscles are activated. One study conducted used electronic imaging to show the muscles that were engaged during a run. The abdominal muscles and other stabilizing muscles in the lower and middle back were active.(2)

  • The stronger your abdominal muscles are, the more reps you will be able to perform when you include strength training in your routine.
  • Running can help condition your muscles to endure more training which in turn will.​

What Running Could Not Do

1. For Your Abs

On the other hand, according to one Harvard Study (3), doing aerobic exercises such as running is not enough when it comes to developing muscle.​

The study compared the results of those who did 20 minutes of weight training and those who did the same amount of aerobic exercises. The results showed that although those who did aerobic exercises lost weight, their muscles continued to expand.

  • This is because exercises such as running burns not only fat but also muscle mass.

2. For Your Legs

Just like running cannot automatically give you abs, it also cannot automatically help you build leg muscle.

In order to build leg muscle, you will need to complement your running by incorporating some leg workouts like squats, push ups, calve exercises, and hip raises.

Gaining muscle is not feasible with running alone because of the lack of resistance as you run which is necessary in order to build muscle.

How to Get Six Pack Abs While Running

Although running alone cannot give you six pack abs, it can still play a vital role in helping you achieve your goals. The secret is doing the right kind of runs.

1. Instead Of Jogging, Sprint

According to researchers, it is much more beneficial to sprint for short distances than to jog or run a marathon for long distances. In one study (4) conducted in Sydney analyzed the effect of 8-second bursts over a 20 minute period. Such surges helped men to lose 4 pounds of fat over a 12 week period.

In addition, a 17% reduction of fat around the internal organs was observed.

In another study, it was concluded that 2-minute sprint interval sessions performed 3 times a week for 6 weeks burned the same amount of fat as a 30-minute endurance session. (5)

Here is a basic Sprinting session:

  • Run at your maximum speed for 30-45 seconds
  • ​Change to a jog for the same amount of time
  • ​Repeat this for 20 minutes or so

You may also incorporate other strength training in between your sprints such as push-ups, high knee jumps, and lunges.

2. Make Your Abs In The Kitchen

No matter how much you work out, you will not get those abs unless you make changes in your diet. Generally speaking, try and reduce your carbohydrate, sugar and alcohol intake and replace them with protein-rich food, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats.

​Here are some foods to incorporate into your diet:

  • To boost metabolism: blueberries, grapefruit, green tea, and chili peppers. (6,7,8)
  • To help burn body fat: sweet potatoes, broccoli, cinnamon, and apples (9,10,11)
  • To get build muscle: chicken, pork, turkey, lamb, duck, eggs, tuna, peanuts, soybeans (12)
  • To reduce stress: salmon, walnuts, oats and milk

3. Incorporate Strength Training

As we have mentioned earlier, doing solely aerobic exercises such as running will result in a loss of muscle mass. If you want to prevent this from happening, incorporate the basic strength and resistance exercise routines.

Some examples include:

  • Press Ups
  • Push Ups
  • Planks
  • Hanging leg raises
  • Russian Twists
  • Squarts


The answer to the question whether running can give you abs is yes and no. If you only do running and have no strength training exercises incorporated in your routine, then no- running will not give you abs. However, if you select sprinting and combine this with proper diet and strength training, your running can greatly contribute to getting a six pack abs.

Did you find this article helpful? What routine do you follow to get your dream body? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below. Also please share this information with other folks who want to get killer abs.​