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Shrink muscular legs


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I was a gymnast when I was younger and have also done alot of weight training.  I have always hated my bulky lower body.  I am not fat at all but my legs are too muscular.  I really would love slender legs.  I was told that I was doing all the wrong thing.....squats, lunges and weights......I was then told to only do cardio....Does this mean jogging is okay?  Does anyone have any experience like this? 

***I am 5'2  134

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try pilates! seriously, it really helps.

Cry

LOL you are not going to believe this....Im 5'0 and 130lbs.  Have always had muscular legs, especially the calves.  Last week at work an employee came up to me and told me that she and another were discussing my MUSCULAR LEGS.  They determined that it was a shame that I had not lost weight in my legs.  Ugh, how rude of them.

Far as I know, nothing will tone them down to dancer's legs.  I have my father to thank for the muscular calves.  Genetics.

I can't believe some people.  You look awesome devilish.  I would love to have musculor legs.  I am working really really hard at it but its a damn slow process.  Genetics really are hard to overcome...in both directions.

Original Post by jellobee:

try pilates! seriously, it really helps.

Even better, don't get up from the couch all day, and if you really need to get up do so in a wheelchair, the less you use your leg muscles the smaller they'll get. 

#6  
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If your legs are already too muscular for your own taste, weight training your lower body will make your legs even bigger, if you are seeking a more balanced look stop training your legs intensely. Occasionally doing low weight high reps won't make them bigger and might help you to acheive a smaller look. I think though, that ultimately you will simply have to lose weight. Muscle and Fat do not differentiate much in the sense that you have to have a calorie deficit to watch it disappear.

Muscle is very much use em', or lose em'. In the mean time, you could focus on working out your upper body which will make you look a little bit more balanced, and make your waist look more defined.

Running will be fine, it won't make your legs big either. I do envy you though, it's a shame that all that fantastic muscle has to go to waste! I'd kill to have a few extra pounds of muscle in my lower body. Does wonders for the bum.

 I'm willing to bet that your lower body isn't as unattractive as you might feel that it is, muscle is beautiful. Just my opinion.

... I'll never understand why strength isn't sexy.

I think women's ideas of perfection arn't really mens.  I have gigantic well muscled legs of kung fu Doom.  When I wear shorts jaws drop.  Why would you want to give up sexy muscular legs?

 

Original Post by cpontifex:

If your legs are already too muscular for your own taste, weight training your lower body will make your legs even bigger, if you are seeking a more balanced look stop training your legs intensely. Occasionally doing low weight high reps won't make them bigger and might help you to acheive a smaller look. I think though, that ultimately you will simply have to lose weight. Muscle and Fat do not differentiate much in the sense that you have to have a calorie deficit to watch it disappear.

Muscle is very much use em', or lose em'. In the mean time, you could focus on working out your upper body which will make you look a little bit more balanced, and make your waist look more defined.

Running will be fine, it won't make your legs big either. I do envy you though, it's a shame that all that fantastic muscle has to go to waste! I'd kill to have a few extra pounds of muscle in my lower body. Does wonders for the bum.

 I'm willing to bet that your lower body isn't as unattractive as you might feel that it is, muscle is beautiful. Just my opinion.

 FYI  yup, killer butt w/ muscular legs. 

Well said. Expresses my feelings about people wanting to lose muscle perfectly.

 If you absolutely must; long duration low intensity cardio in a fasted state.

The High rep low weight advice is actually pretty much counterproductive - that trains the cytoplasmic energy system in the legs and causes size increases.

Generalization #3: Low rep leg training builds bulky legs, whereas high rep leg training brings out the detail and will build nicely toned legs.

Truth: For the majority of muscle groups, performing reps of 10 or below does seem to work better for mass, but legs are an exception. Assuming you're training close to failure, nothing builds "bulky" legs faster than performing intense sets of 20-50 on squats, leg presses, lunges, and other hard movements.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but keeping the reps low when training legs is more conducive to "tone" than to "bulk." I can't stress this enough.

The girls who come to me complaining of stocky legs are almost always doing sets of 20 or more on legs. I simply switch them to lower reps; over time, the legs stop blowing up, and daylight starts peeking through between the thighs. Hallelujah!

Ten Training Truths You Need To Hear
by Jen Heath

Strong women are awesome. And to quote Geoff Girvitz: "Staying weak because of how it might make you look is the same as staying illiterate for fear of appearing nerdy. Stop it. You’re better than that." (Strength without size: How to get stronger without getting bulky)

#10  
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Melkor - Great link on the 10 training truths.  A must read for EVERYONE.

Too muscular??? I can only wish! Well, now you know what side I'm on...

Think of them as beautiful, strong, sculpted legs that served you well for all those years of gymnastics (and still do now, right?)  Be proud of them - show them off!  Wear shoes with a heel to make them appear longer.  Heels can do wonders for muscular legs - I'm sure most men would agree.

i hear you! i played soccer since was 4. let me tell you it really takes a toll on the calves! haha. anyway, over the past 2-3 i havent been playing very much just b/c im in college now, and they have gone down alot. i still run and workout b/c i will never stop that just to lose my muscle. fatty legs are way grosser than muscular ones. i would love to have skinny legs though, im thinking that after another few years theyll go down even more, my bmi is 20 so its not like i should really lose much weight and when i do lose weight it doesnt come from my legs. i have quite the booty too! haha my friends tease me, they all somehow have flat butts even though im thinner than most of them, but they're probs just jealous haha. i think being short makes it worse, im 5'2 so it makes our legs look alot shorter, well i mean they are shorter haha. good luck, running should be fine alot of runner have very lean legs,  i would suggest distance running over sprinting b/c sprinting builds up the quads.

try pilates, nothing really seemed to work for me, but it is worth a try, I had really muscular legs, I sat around and did nothing and now I have really fat legs, there was no escape from the big legs.

#14  
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Original Post by melkor:

Original Post by smartjock256:

Cry

Well said. Expresses my feelings about people wanting to lose muscle perfectly.

 If you absolutely must; long duration low intensity cardio in a fasted state.

The High rep low weight advice is actually pretty much counterproductive - that trains the cytoplasmic energy system in the legs and causes size increases.

Generalization #3: Low rep leg training builds bulky legs, whereas high rep leg training brings out the detail and will build nicely toned legs.

Truth: For the majority of muscle groups, performing reps of 10 or below does seem to work better for mass, but legs are an exception. Assuming you're training close to failure, nothing builds "bulky" legs faster than performing intense sets of 20-50 on squats, leg presses, lunges, and other hard movements.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but keeping the reps low when training legs is more conducive to "tone" than to "bulk." I can't stress this enough.

The girls who come to me complaining of stocky legs are almost always doing sets of 20 or more on legs. I simply switch them to lower reps; over time, the legs stop blowing up, and daylight starts peeking through between the thighs. Hallelujah!

Ten Training Truths You Need To Hear
by Jen Heath

Strong women are awesome. And to quote Geoff Girvitz: "Staying weak because of how it might make you look is the same as staying illiterate for fear of appearing nerdy. Stop it. You’re better than that." (Strength without size: How to get stronger without getting bulky)

 

"Truth: For the majority of muscle groups, performing reps of 10 or below does seem to work better for mass, but legs are an exception. Assuming you're training close to failure, nothing builds "bulky" legs faster than performing intense sets of 20-50 on squats, leg presses, lunges, and other hard movements."

I agree completely to the above comment. When I said high reps I should have specified the 12-15 rep range. And I should also have stressed occassionally.

Doing 48 jumps squats, or hell even just 48 plain old squats will kick your butt -literally - in a good way... at least when it comes to my own personal goals, but clearly not for the OP's.

I mentioned the high reps because I was recalling an article I read in a female fit mag either oxygen or fitness rx, this one woman had incredibly large legs, and for contest prep she really had to focus on creating a better balance between her upper and lower body. Because her legs were so big she had to try to de-emphasize them by keeping her lower body in the high rep (12-15) range, thus keeping them 'toned' without building them up unnecesarily.

The following is another excerpt from a T-Nation article, 

"When I used to oversee the personal training department at a fitness facility I'd have weekly meetings with the trainers. I'd devise scenarios and ask them how they'd respond. I'd say, "So Mr. X comes in and wants to build bigger quads, what are some of the parameters you'd choose?" One trainer said, "I'd have him perform full squats, walking lunges, and leg curls three times each week with 75-85% of his 1RM." That's a decent answer.

But then I opened up my book of artifice. I asked this same trainer what lower body parameters he would use on a female who was trying to slim down her hips and thighs. His answer? Squats, lunges, and leg curls.

Don't think for a second that this paradox is limited to the trainer I mentioned. This happens all the time! I see trainers and females using the same parameters to shrink their thighs that men use to build their thighs.

From a training perspective, if a guy is trying to build up his quads, the worst thing he can do is spend 45 minutes running on a treadmill every other day. Why? Because long-distance running will shrink your thigh muscles quicker than anything else. So if you're a female who thinks your hips and thighs are too big, you'd benefit from long distance running.

My point is that if you're a woman and you don't want bigger thighs, don't do what men do to build up their thighs. And if you want slimmer thighs, then do the things that men avoid when they're trying to build up their thighs — long distance running, for one."

He goes on to prescribe a training plan for women trying to acheived the tiny waist and small yet perky bum, and most of the exercises remain within the 12-15 rep range.

Sorry I don't know how to link it! But the article is by Chad Waterbury if anyone cares to look into it. I think this plan might be right up the OP's alley. Give it a look over Melkor and see if it will work for her, you would know better than I would.

#15  
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Original Post by melkor

Truth: For the majority of muscle groups, performing reps of 10 or below does seem to work better for mass, but legs are an exception. Assuming you're training close to failure, nothing builds "bulky" legs faster than performing intense sets of 20-50 on squats, leg presses, lunges, and other hard movements.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but keeping the reps low when training legs is more conducive to "tone" than to "bulk." I can't stress this enough.

The girls who come to me complaining of stocky legs are almost always doing sets of 20 or more on legs. I simply switch them to lower reps; over time, the legs stop blowing up, and daylight starts peeking through between the thighs. Hallelujah!

 OH NO! I've been doing 15-20 reps of squats and lunges! I don't want my legs to get bulky!!! Should I just stop!?

cpontifex - that's from waterbury's "sexy female training" right?

I've seen melkor talk about him and his "weird hangups about female muscle" before - here and here

 There is some slight merit to what he's saying - to think about why one would do a particular exercise and what sort of loading parameter one would use, specifically. And doing more endurance running fits in with most other catabolic parameters; though you'd probably see faster results if you purposefully overtrain by doing legs heavy 5-6 days a week.

 For some people - specifically, a complete beginner coming off the couch - the "sexy female training" plan can form a good transition workout that'll get you ready for a better plan like "New rules of Lifting for Women" without a too painful adjusting period. Same can be said of any calisthenics-based plan; calisthenics has a long and honorable history for getting people into a reasonable level of everyday fitness. (And if you're Eddie Potter and train 3-6 hours a day or more, it can get you into an unreasonable level of fitness too, but it generally requires a lot more time and effort to get into Eddie-level shape using only bodyweight than most people have.)

 However, a standard strength plan like Starting Strength, "Stripped" 5x5, the original NROL or NROLW will probably do more for you, faster.

 Thing is; while in a calorie deficit it's possible for a complete beginner to add maybe 1-2lbs of lean mass during the first 8-16 weeks of training; and after that it comes to a dead stop unless you're a genetic mutant like my man Duke , Greenkev or Jasontarin who all three are able to build significant muscle in a calorie deficit. That's three people out of the 1.3 million who uses this site, and that's about how rare those sorts of exceptional gentics are.

 For anyone else, it doesn't matter what exercise parameters you're doing as long as you're in a calorie deficit; after that first extra pound or two of lean mass (Muscle, glycogen storage, water) from newbie gains, you'll be doing great as long as you don't lose a whole lot of lean mass.

 So the "bulk up" issue is a non-starter, that only really happens if you're training hard and eating a calorie surplus -  a few hundred calories net positive energy balance might allow you to be building muscle at a rate of roughly 1-2lbs per month.(You know, the more I learn of physiology, the less impressive Waterbury becomes. Just sayin'...)

 If you have legs as slender as a broomstick to start with like the average Hollywood starlet adding the equivalent of 5-6 cubic inches of muscle mass might be very noticeable. Probably not though.

 --->aside: As I recall, you were doing bodyweight versions of those? That's not enough load to be relevant to this discussion; Valerie Waters of Red Carpet Ready uses a lot of bodyweight lunges and one-legged squats in her program. Since her selling point is that RCR is hard but ineffective training that will wear you out but not actually challenge your muscles enough to develop in any way, I assume you're safe.

Scott Abel has some new training parameters for men looking for large legs, actually - he has them doing 40-50 rep sets of squats and lunges to develop size and muscle bulk. Which from all reports work a lot better than the 1-5 rep strength training at above 80-90% of 1RM I'm doing; my legs haven't changed in size at all.

 So the high-rep low load for size works for men as well, which if one is to take Waterbury's advice to not do what men looking for size are doing if you're looking to slim your legs would mean that you should start to train heavier rather than lighter...

#18  
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Arghhhhh! Now I'm frustrated.

I haven't added any weight to my lunges or squats, after 15-20 reps my legs kill so I figured I shouldn't add any weight yet. My legs are always terribly sore the day after.
My intentions were never to bulk up my legs or to put on a noticeable amount of muscle, but I wanted to firm them up and lose some inches if possible.

I suck at this!

Heh, as long as you're counting calories and staying at or slightly below maintenance, you come in under the "not relevant to you anyway" part of the discussion - it's highly improbable that you'll add any muscle mass worth mentioning. What you can do is keep what you've already got while taking some of the layers of fluffiness off, which will reveal more of your currently-existing muscle.

 This loss of fat and revealing the muscle currently there will be seen as 'firming up' - I was on a bodyweight kick a few years back and did 50-80 reps of bodyweight squats while dieting, and I didn't notice anything in the way of size or strength gains, just some strength endurance and pain tolerance.

 Scott Abel's training parameters are performing high-rep squats with a training load of about 40% of your 1RM IIRC, and since bodyweight is 0% of your 1RM that doesn't apply to you either.

i have the same problem...i'm 5 2 and 125 lbs.  i was a gymnast too actually.  my body fat is about 21.5%.  i have heard that foam rolling can help with bulky calves.   has anyone had success or even heard of this?  it's using a foam roller or a little tennis size ball to roll out the muscles... 

there are celebs who are short but somehow they look tall in pics, even with muscular legs- like fergie...so it's got to be possible!

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