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Will running make my legs thicker?


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I'm been doing some running lately. Last night, I ran 2 miles relatively in about 20 minutes. I'm trying to work off the extra fat in my leg, so I can look better in my old skinny jeans. I heard that running buffs up your legs though. A bunch of the runners in my school have really THICK - but strong looking - legs. Will that happen with me?

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#1  
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Generally, sprinting runners will have thicker legs, and long distance runners will have slimmer legs.  The reason behind this is weight resistance exercises, which sprinters do to make their leg muscles more powerful, will add muscle mass.  Long distance running is a cardiovascular exercise and will not add bulk to leg muscles.  That being said, some people are just predisposed to have thicker legs, and some have slimmer legs.

If you eat more calories than you burn, yes.  If you eat less calories than you burn, no.  Same as every other form of exercise.

Hofnercat, I have the same concerns.

I have been walking, jogging, and sprinting a lot lately and one pair of my pants feel much tighter on my thighs today...not exactly the results I wanted to see after this much hard work.  I would love to tone up, but I want to lose weight so that my clothes fit better, not worse.  I'm hoping that it's all in my head because I'm eating less calories than I burn, but I feel like I'm getting bigger and bigger by the day.  I won't give up though!   

it really is about the calorie consumption.  i do the cardio equivalent of long distance running, but i have pretty big legs bec i eat more than i should (and more than long distance runners do).  so i don't know how underweight you are, hofnercat, but at your age the path to being underweight is undereating/dieting/starving.  so if you're eating below your calorie burn every day, you can run or lift weights or start boxing, and you won't gain an ounce of muscle or bulk.  however, i do suggest starting to eat healthy so that you can maintain a healthy weight and muscle composition.  if your skinny jeans are too small, it's possible that they're meant for someone else (donate them).  good luck.

It is also about how you are built. When I was at my thinnest--and well underweight--as a runner, my thighs looked ok (the rest of me looked like ****). They never became too skinny. As I gained to a healthier weight, my thighs stayed the same--all muscle, however. Now that I'm overweight, my thighs are huge, but I know they will never be thin. I have always done trail running, lots of hills, so I don't know if that is part of it. The shapeliness of my thighs, when in good shape and at a good weight, is one of my best features. I can lose the fat but they will always be muscular.

#6  
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Hey thanks guys! Okay so I’m not really watching what I eat right now (food is too good) so I’m not sure if my calorie intake is more or less than my calories burned. Yesterday, i hurt my toe running :P so i think I’m going to start swimming instead. Is swimming going to be as effective as running?  

#7  
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As long as you do continual laps like you would continuously run, swimming is excellent.  My physical therapist told me to swim instead of run while i was in rehab for my knee.  I am still supposed to swim more than run, unfortunately, the more you swim, the bigger your lats (back muscles get).  Thats why swimmers have those butterfly looking backs (you have to do it alot tho).  Try the elliptical if you have access to one.  It cross trains and it shouldn't affect your toe.

I have been a runner for over 2years now (long distance, usually 9-10km a run), and my legs are not massive. They are however defined, and toned, I do weight lift on the off days to maintain, and I eat 1800cals a day 2000 on running days. :) hope that helps 

I run 20 miles a week, 9min miles each, I eat 1800-2200 cal depending on the day, and my ligs are SKINNY!

On a related note...

 

Which exercises most effectively slim down your thighs and calves?  I already eat less calories (1500) than I burn (about 2000).  I run about 2.5K a day in 17 minutes, but so far I can go any longer than that so long distance running is kinda out of the question for now. My calves are giant (can't wear knee high boots) and my thighs do the dreaded thigh rub.  Will pilates slim my legs down?  What else can I do to attack this problem area?

 

Thanksss!

Original Post by at_oneinthesun:

On a related note...

 

Which exercises most effectively slim down your thighs and calves?  I already eat less calories (1500) than I burn (about 2000).  I run about 2.5K a day in 17 minutes, but so far I can go any longer than that so long distance running is kinda out of the question for now. My calves are giant (can't wear knee high boots) and my thighs do the dreaded thigh rub.  Will pilates slim my legs down?  What else can I do to attack this problem area?

 

Thanksss!

Oh dear, I have the same problem as you (I was 'blessed' with very muscular calves and I have big thighs). The best thing you can do is strengthen your adductor (inner thigh) muscle. Do inner leg lifts, and if you have a medicine ball, put it between your legs and squeeze. Keep squeezing.

Anything that makes your leg move together is working your adductor muscle. Try to play around with different types of leg exercise and see how they effect your inner thighs.

Also, don't do weight training with weights if you have pretty solid legs as it is. I mean big quads, big hams. Do the weight training with your own body weight instead.

#12  
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i have to agree wth goddess9.  i have big calves and thighs too (used to be a softball catcher).  ive cut out the weights that i used to do and focus on no weight (just body weight) lunges, leg lifts with the medicine ball, pilates, and some old dance warm ups.  This along with cardio to keep the fat down is actually giving me leaner legs than chunky munky legs.  give pilates a try, but the leg lifts are great too.

...why in the world would you want to avoid having muscular legs? I think y'all need some Alligator Stew for a Female Lifter's Soul :)

 (Edited to add) - your leg size is partly genetic, and mostly due to where your body stores fat. Your leg muscles are the largest in your body, and are the ones that will burn the most fat for you - if you train them properly, with heavy weights. Pilates is a waste of time for anything a dieter needs - it's excellent flexibility training, a poor calorie burner, terrible, terrible strength training. And while dieting it's strength training you need to change your body composition, not cardio or flexibility training.

 Which means that what you need to do is burn off the fat - with strength training.
I know for sure that biking beefs up your legs... If that's what you're looking to do.

 Your dance teacher is on drugs - the shape of your muscles will be determined by your genetics. Size can be increased a bit by targeted body building type exercises or somewhat influenced by high volume of medium resistance exercise like cycling, but you're 12, still growing and not doing serious weight training; there is no earthly way your thighs are big and the muscle you have is only what you need to support the activities you're doing.

 Some so-called trainers should be dragged back to school and forced to sit through a year or two of exercise physiology and basic biology before they're allowed to comment on other people's bodies, know what I'm saying?

Running with a clean diet has made my legs slimmer and more defined. I do tend to get thick legs but running has never bulked them out.

If running "beefed" up your legs marathoners wouldn't fit into any normal-sized shorts or pants. They'd take up two seats on airplanes.

When I was running (about 25-30 miles/week), my legs leaned out but stayed muscular. I also play soccer, so my legs were strong to begin with. Basically, longer runs will be more effective at "leaning you out" than sprints; compare a sprinter to a distance runner.
Strong legs are awesome though! I've always been really proud of having muscular, defined legs. They look way better than thin little sticks. 

Original Post by laurieneyboo:

When I was running (about 25-30 miles/week), my legs leaned out but stayed muscular. I also play soccer, so my legs were strong to begin with. Basically, longer runs will be more effective at "leaning you out" than sprints; compare a sprinter to a distance runner.
Strong legs are awesome though! I've always been really proud of having muscular, defined legs. They look way better than thin little sticks. 

If they get too muscular though you encounter serious problems finding clothes that fit. I'll be lucky to find jeans/dress pants that fit me without having them tailored/customized/fixed whatever you call it. I have really long legs, a thin-ish waist, and enormous quads. Makes for a terrible combination when trying to find clothing. Which is why I stick to athletic shorts if possible!

 

But yes on girls muscular legs are super hot, especially in a dress. Extra points if you have long legs.

Original Post by armandounc:

I have really long legs, a thin-ish waist, and enormous quads. Makes for a terrible combination when trying to find clothing. Which is why I stick to athletic shorts if possible!

Oh man, tell me about it...I'm almost 6 feet tall and for most of my life have had the quads of a soccer player...I always end up having to buy pants to fit the quads and end up wearing a belt. But the way my legs look in athletic shorts thing makes up for it! Wink

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