I have always had bigger, thicker and more muscular legs than all of the other girls in my class. I’m not fat, I just hold a lot of my weight in my lower body since I’m very athletic and play many sports like soccer and softball. Are there any exercises I can use to make my legs smaller and leaner?
You might want to take a look at the size of your mother’s and grandmother’s legs to see if they also have thick and muscular lower bodies since this is most likely a genetic trait. Our body size and shape come from the genes of both our mothers and fathers and these genes determine things like our height, skin color and facial structure. If your mother or father had a very easy time packing on muscle mass to their legs, then this is most likely the reason why you have more muscular legs than the other girls in your class.
My dad has huge, muscular legs and I always have someone come up to me at the gym when I train legs and say, “Man, what do you do to get those massive quads”? I just tell them that I’m very lucky to have the right genes since I barely even need to train my legs and they seem to grow like weeds. I just wish I had the same genes for my chest muscles!
There are a few things you can do to help minimize the muscle mass in your legs in order to try to bring them down to “normal” size. The first thing is to reduce the overall level of resistance on any of the mutli-joint muscle building exercises like squats, leg presses and lunges. You are probably doing many of these exercises in your sports training in order to increase power and performance.
The only issue is that by doing heavy weight with low repetitions on these movements, you will be building up your lower body much faster than the average girl since your genes are optimally structured for growth in this region. This means that you can basically just look at a squat rack and your legs will grow! Move from lower rep training (8-10 reps) per set to a much higher level of overall repetitions with a lighter weight (18-20 reps). This will lower the overall load on your legs. These exercises are great for toning and tightening your thighs, hips and butt:
- Dumbbell Lunges (18-20 reps per set)
- Barbell Squats (18-20 reps per set)
- Walking Lunges (18-20 reps per set)
Along with increasing the repetition range for your resistance training exercises, it’s also important to do cardio training that targets your lower body. The best exercise I recommend is running which does a great job really working your thighs, legs and butt. Focus more on longer distances versus sprints since sprinting is more of an explosive movement that will actually build up muscle in your lower body. Your running program should be 1-3 miles per day, 4-5 days per week. You can also include exercises like walking, biking and using the elliptical machine into your overall cardio plan. It’s always great to cross train with different exercises in order to mix it up and keep your body guessing.
By combining high repetition weight training exercises with the right cardio workouts, you should see a noticeable difference in the overall size and tightness of your legs. When you start to lose additional body fat from your lower body, you will start to see your legs getting tighter and firmer. Remember that your diet also has a key role in the overall amount of body fat that you lose, so make sure to be aware of the foods you’re eating on a daily basis. Include nutrient dense whole foods into your nutrition plan which will help fuel your body through those intense workouts and hard athletic events.