5k Running While Still Gaining Muscle and Weight

by Isa A

I want to know how I can weight lift and still train for 5k without overdoing it. I weigh 113 lbs and I want to gain 7 more pounds but I also want to train for a 5k run. How can I do both and not lose any weight?

Answer by Dominique:

Hi there,
Thanks for your question.

5k running while gaining muscle
What you want, my friend, is having your cake and eating it too!

The goals you are setting for yourself are somewhat opposed, so it's pretty tricky. It will really depend on how committed you are to your running goal vs your goal of gaining muscle and weight. It's going to be challenging if you need to train hard for this 5k and satisfy a certain time goal.

Let's cover off on:

1. Principles of Gaining Muscle and Weight
2. Optimal way to prepare for a 5k
3. Shortcutting your 5k Preparation to Assist Gaining Muscle and Weight

Principles of Gaining Muscle and Weight

This is less for you and more for others reading along(!). You probably know this. But in order to gain weight and muscle, you need to ensure that in addition to the strength training you are undertaking, that you eat a lot. You need to consume more calories than you burn and you need to ensure the intake of sufficient protein as a key muscle building ingredient.

Optimal way to prepare for a 5k

5k running while gaining muscle
Now, the optimal way to prepare for a 5k would include a lot of easy running. Depending on how serious you are about your time goal, you'd need more or less mileage.

When you are starting out and "just" want to finish a 5k, then running 2-3 miles a number of times per week is fine. When you have serious 5k performance goals in mind, you may need 60 miles per week and a long run of 10+ miles. You can check out the 5k Running Tips page for further info.

In addition to all that easy running you would do a mix of different faster workouts, such as tempo running, interval running and goal pace workouts. You can find more about these types of running on the Running Workouts page.

The problem with all that easy running is that it burns a lot of calories. It makes gaining weight pretty tough to achieve.

Shortcutting your 5k Preparation to Assist Gaining Muscle and Weight

The key then, to preparing for a 5k while still gaining weight and muscle mass is to limit the total amount of running you do. You could try to keep the total amount of running and other aerobic exercise to a minimum and do some limited faster work (like 30 seconds hard / 30 seconds easy alternating) to help drive some short-term performance uplift.

The additional benefit of the higher intensity running is that it is more of a muscle builder than long distance running. Several studies have shown that HIIT (high intensity interval running) stimulates muscle protein synthesis better than easy running over longer distances.

So, that's what you can consider. Once again, it will not lead to optimal running performances, but a 5k is not a massive distance, so if you want to finish a race and are happy to crash and burn or do a bit of walking in it than this is a plan. It sounds like your priority at the moment is gaining muscle and weight, so that's where the focus should be.

Hope that helps.
Kind regards,

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