Slimmer Legs Wanted

Question:

I am 18 yrs old and for a long time now I have been very unhappy with the shape of my legs.

I am a petite girl (5'2" and 125 lbs), and I am pretty lean, but my thighs are too big for my body frame.

Two reasons this may be is; 1. That's how my mom's side of the family is shaped, and 2. I have been running for years.

So my question is this. What can I do to get nice toned legs instead of the big bulky legs that I currently have now?

I know I need to pick up my cardio, but what else can I do to achieve the results I desire?

Should I cut out protein since it builds muscle mass? I really want to decrease muscle mass in my legs and I would be willing to cut back on protein if it would help me get slimmer legs?

I really need some help here. I'm tired of being insecure when spring and summer roles around because of my athletic build. I feel bulky.

I just want to look like every other girl my age with the skinny legs. Is it possible for me to achieve this, or should I just give up on trying to look like that?

Answered By:

Mike Behnken, MS, CSCS ANswers the Fitness Question

If your family has a similar body type, you may likely be stuck with it. Your thigh size has nothing to do with your protein intake. Protein does not cause big muscles. It is essential for beautiful hair, skin, and nails as well as keeping your metabolism high.

Thinking you are lean and knowing you are lean are two different things. Before you change your diet or exercise program you should get your body fat percentage measured.

If your body fat percentage is not ideal your legs may appear to be larger because you store more fat, even though you think you have excess muscle. Check out our body fat percentage in women article to learn more.

body fat measurement accumeasureThe best idea would be to get an skin caliper which you can use to estimate your body fat by yourself in a few minutes or less, or if you prefer, use a body fat scale. 

I prefer the skinfold caliper over the scale as they are much cheaper and more accurate.

Now regardless of the method you use to estimate your body fat percentage, it will take the guesswork and mystery away from your exercise program. Check out our Body Fat Measurement Guide (http://www.askthetrainer.com/body-fat-measurement/) to learn the best and worst methods for finding your body fat percentage.

body fat percentage in womenRemember, 5 pounds of muscle takes up the same amount of space as the 3 tangerines, while 5 pounds of fat takes up the same amount of space as 3 grapefruits. Want to learn more? Visit this post.

If your body fat percentage is ideal (based on the chart), there are a few things you can do to possibly make your thighs more slender.

I would focus on long duration cardio exercise (45-60 minutes). For example, most sprinters have muscular thighs while marathon runners tend to have slim thighs.

If you perform weight training, make sure you focus on full body, large muscle group exercises such as lunges, squats, push-ups, etc., rather than isolation exercises (leg extensions, hamstrings curls, etcetera).

Large muscle group exercises will keep up your fat burning metabolism rather than hypertrophy (build) your muscles. You will also want to make sure to stretch your lower body often.

Additionally, make sure you are eating a balanced, healthy diet with plenty of fibrous fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and lean proteins. Don't forget to drink plenty of water too. Also limit your fat intake to only small amounts of healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, and fatty fish.

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