By marathon runner's physique what I mean is a body type that is not bulky but muscular. Something like just a real lean build with low body fat percentages, muscles showing naturally without even working them out that much, not the bulging everywhere type. But not looking wimpy at the same time too.

In my attempts to reach this goal (and with no gym membership to boot) I've opted to use this workout routine. I've modified the routine a bit to increase intensity especially on the core area and on the arms, maybe even with the chests.

For equipment I currently have the following:

  • My trusty elliptical machine (where I've been doing tabata intervals and pyramid HIIT exercices in the past. I've opted to stop using it because I noticed I've been working out my legs far too much and that maybe I can now burn the remaining percentages of fat that I have through resistance training (the aformentioned routine); correct me if I'm wrong though)

  • 2 dumbbells weighing 8lbs each total (the weights are removable, each dumbbell is made up of 2 2.5lb weights and 2 1.5lb weights)

  • An exercise mat

  • Our kitchen door frame for doing my pullups

That's pretty much it.

With the mentioned equipment, I've gotten to a fitness level beyond anything I've ever imagined I can achieve so I plan to just stick with what I have as of the moment.

Would Scooby's suggested routine along with my aformentioned equipment be enough to achieve my goals?


  • Sex: male
  • Height: 5'3 (I'm a small guy)
  • Weight: 56kg
  • Bodyfat percentage: 17% I think. I measured it through an online calucator that relies on the 'Navy's Body Fat Percentage' computation, something like that.
  • Diet: I don't have a diet because I find it hard measuring what I eat but most of the time I aim for a 20 or more percent of caloric deficit.
  • Level of fitness: I haven't really measured my fitness level yet and I don't know how to describe it, but I'll try. I can do 4 sets of tabata intervals (20 sec work, 10 sec rest; 8 reps), 70 - 80 pushups per session, 120 situps/crunches, 40 pullups (not in one swoop though), dumbbell goblet squats, around 50 reps. That's it more or less.
  • 1
    I've given an answer, but it's super broad, and I'm worried it's not very helpful. I expect better answers will come if you give us a bit more info about yourself. Are you male or female? What is your height? What is your weight? What is your bodyfat percentage (if you know it)? What is your diet? What is your current level of fitness (you could describe this many ways... how fast you run 5k, 10k, how much you can lift, what types of activities you generally do, sports, etc.)
    – user4644
    Commented Aug 11, 2013 at 18:48
  • thanks for the answer, I'll update my question details with answers to your queries.
    – reverb
    Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 2:24
  • Without a clear idea of what kind of physique you want, we really can't help. Do you want to look like this kind of marathon runner? Or do you just want to have muscles but not be "too big"? Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 2:08
  • Thanks for the samples, hmm it really looks like I haven't got a good idea yet on what physique I am for because none of your samples matched what I aim for unfortunately. But googling for sample physiques I think what I really wanted after all was something like this: i48.photobucket.com/albums/f243/clbsprt/boogie-board-big.jpg
    – reverb
    Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 3:41
  • looking at the possible duplicate, seems like that my question is indeed a duplicate. thanks for posting it here!
    – reverb
    Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 3:52

2 Answers 2


One misconception you have:

  • "just lean muscles": All muscles are lean. There is no difference between the lean-ness of one person's muscles and another person's muscles. The difference is in the amount of bodyfat they're carrying.

If you want a body that is muscular, but not bulky:

  • Strength-train or body build until you're at the level of muscle that you want, and then just maintain that. You won't be come bulky overnight. You can then work on adjusting your proportions in just the way you like.

If you want a marathon runner's physique:

  • Train for a marathon

If you want a thin frame, and "flat" abs, not the bulging everywhere type:

  • Just eat less. You don't need to do any physical activity to get to that state. You'll lose your bodyfat, your muscles will be lean (as they always have been), your abs will be flat (since you will not have trained them); they won't be bulging

Switching to resistance training from your HIIT training to burn fat:

  • HIIT along with a correct diet works great for fat loss. The reason that was working for you is because you're using the biggest muscles in your body (hamstrings, glutes, quads, spinal erectors). Resistance training can also totally work. But, the people who have the most success using resistance training for fat loss use a strength training program centered around a few full-body compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, presses, and pull-ups/chin-ups (note, these also get the biggest muscles in the body working). With the workout you've chosen, it's benefits are more akin to your HIIT work. It's just endurance intervals, but instead of running or elliptical, you're just doing other movements.
  • Would the workout routine I mentioned in my question suffice for proper strength training for my goals? And looks like I get what you're saying now that I should just lose all my body fat to achieve my target physique, is this doable with just caloric deficit and with scooby's beginner routine?. I've gotten quite tired of doing my elliptical routines and my legs have been seriously been hurting because Ive been doing them non stop for months so I opted to go for with the routine I mentioned coupled with HIIT through goblet squats with the use of my 8lb dumbbells.
    – reverb
    Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 2:59
  • 1
    The program you're doing will be sufficient. But it won't be the most efficient way of getting to look like this guy you linked to. The most efficient way to get to looking like that guy is through higher weight machine chest and shoulder work, pull-ups, and a calorie deficit (which can be achieved by diet, HIIT, or a mix of the two).
    – user4644
    Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 17:15
  • Oh okay, great then I'll continue with the program I use then. I'll just add more intensity for the upper body routines by increasing sets and reps then. I've stopped doing HIIT but I'm on a caloric deficit and I'll just let time take its' course then. Thanks for your help.
    – reverb
    Commented Aug 14, 2013 at 6:49

If you want to have the body of a runner, you need to run. Likewise, if you want the body of a powerlifter, lift; rower, row; rock climber, climb; etc...

The good news is that marathon runners only run marathons during a race, but will often do upwards of 100km a week when training. Start slow and look at programs like Couch25K that will get you running. You could get the body you wanted with a strict diet and a 3-4 long sessions a week. More good news, running is fun, gives you time to think, and the only equipment you need is some good shoes. Depending on the weather you might need a water bottle (and holder), if you are doing more than 10km a session when its hot, or a pair of good light gloves when its cold.

Regarding your elliptical, you could look at just doing long steady sessions on the machine instead of running. Keep in mind that elliptical training will not make you a better runner as there is less weight-bearing contact and a difference in stabilising muscles used.

Additionally, high intensity training is the complete opposite of that adaptations needed for long-distance cardiovascular endurance. So whether you run or use the elliptical, you are going to look at putting in considerable long, steady sessions of cardio work.

At the end of the day, if you want to look like a particular type of athlete, you need to train like they do.

  • I wasn't going to add this as part of the answer - but I read an article a while ago on running and thinking. It stated that runners do 'zone out' on long runs as your body enters a 'autopilot mode' leaving your brain with time to think. If I recall the theory it was one of the early adaptations that gave us the ability to stand the fact that our bodies were so capable of running so far.
    – user2861
    Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 0:04
  • Thanks for your insight but unfortunately my problem per se with running is in our neighborhood here everyone just gets mugged, thats why I bought an elliptical machine to proxy running. But I get what youre saying though. I plan to reach my goals thru caloric deficiency and with the routine i mentioned i hope it would be enough though
    – reverb
    Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 3:45
  • @galley With the right resistance on the elliptical and long enough sessions, you can do some great cardio training. But as I said, if you want to look like a marathon runner, train like a marathon runner, even if that means 1hr elliptical sessions, rather than runs.
    – user2861
    Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 3:51
  • 2
    This is a really weird question but I guess we all have our thing. You will not get a marathoner body by working out with weights. Marathoners do have a body type with long stretched muscles that are lean and broken down. I somewhat might suggest pilates as the closest thing I can think of - workout wise. Remember they are carrying their arms for miles so they are really using neck and shoulders... Women with a heavy chest get really defined backs. I would suggest pilates and a treadmill. Won't throw an answer since it is close to Lego's. Elliptical won't put the same stresses on you.
    – DMoore
    Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 3:56
  • I see, maybe I should consider going with a more realistic physique goal then. I think the ambiguity of my question boils down to the fact I can't quite explain my physique goal, I just want a muscly body with minimum body fat and mass. I don't want to look like I've been weight training, and by that I mean having a huge upper body frame with huge arms and chests, etc.
    – reverb
    Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 5:29

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