Thanks to a growing interest in fitness and obtaining the “bikini body” on social media, most of us are aware that you can’t spot reduct (to just work a particular body part and lose fat from that area). And we know that where we lose body fat from first is determined by our genetics and hormones. But we also know that you can target specific muscles and get strong, toned muscles in that area. So the amount of girls that tell me that all they need to do is squats, leg press, etc and other leg exercises, because they just want skinny, toned legs astounds me – this is so wrong it’s not funny.
Yes, it’s true that we females don’t produce very much testosterone and will not put on muscle and size at the rate that our male friends will… BUT if all you do is train legs, legs, legs every workout, then yes, your legs are still going to get pretty thick and muscly. There are a few genetically blessed (depending on your outlook) women out there who no matter what they do, they will never ever have big legs, but I’m talking to the 90% of the rest of us here. No, I’m not saying for a second that you should avoid working your leg muscles, but you definitely don’t need to smash them until you can’t walk, and then again the next day, and the next, week in week out. Because even though we don’t produce a lot of testosterone, we still do produce it. And over time, if you are focussing on only one muscle group (i.e. Legs) your legs are going to build a lot of muscle, and become disproportionately big compared to the rest of your body.
Actually the best thing to do if you want skinny, toned legs is FULL BODY resistance workouts (including your legs), and lots of both high and low intensity cardio to speed up the burning of fat from your whole body (because as we know, you can’t spot reduct). Boxing is super effective, because it combines all of the above! Also be aware that if you are new to training, or have a lot of fat to lose, it may not necessarily be the squats and lunges etc making your legs big. It could just be that your body is genetically engineered to burn fat from everywhere else first and your legs last… and the fact that you now have some muscle tone underneath that fat just makes your legs look like they are one big hunk of chunky muscle. Think of this as an “in between” stage and just keep working that whole body, keep your diet on point and you will get there!
Diet also plays a huge part. If you are overeating, or eating a lot of high calorie/junk food, your body needs to burn this off at some point in order for you to stay lean. So if you are eating so much that you have to train at a very high intensity every day or even more than once a day, then you are also going to be smashing your muscles, and going to have a lot faster gains. You may also burn out faster and risk causing yourself an over-use injury. Awesome if that’s what you want, but not if you want “skinny” legs.
I also just want to add a little note that by posting this, I am not at all trying to say that “skinny legs” is an image we should strive for. This is just a question I get asked often and find that there is a lot of misinformation about, and I hope this has answered some questions for anyone reading it. It is my personal belief that being fit and healthy is far more important than having a particular “look”, but if you can have it all, then why not? 😉 For some people having “skinny legs” is genetically impossible without taking unhealthy measures, but by taking my advice above, you can still maximise your results.