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How To Slim Muscular Legs – A Complete Workout Guide

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People typically want to lose weight, grow muscle tissue, and make it more visible when looking for workouts and exercises. However, some requests are quite the opposite – how to get skinny legs without building muscle. There can be various reasons for having big things and different workouts to make them smaller. In our article, we will look into all the efficient and practical exercises that will help your leg muscles become lean and improve your overall appearance. Let’s get down to business.

 Things You Need To Know About Muscular Legs

Strong legs are a good help for our body:

  • They help us perform everyday activities like running, jumping, and walking without injuries and strained muscles.
  • Make a more attractive appearance.
  • Make good support for the whole body.

Recommended reading — Skinny legs big upper body.

 Some people may get concerned about the big size of their legs. Though too big legs are quite a loose concept, there can be several major reasons for that:

  • Too much salt in the diet, and water retain respectively.
  • Excess fat.
  • Overworking certain parts of the body.
  • Genetics – is the most difficult one to beat.
  • Sedentary lifestyle.
  • Hormonal changes.

 Depending on the reasons for their combination, you need to choose the way to follow to decrease the size of the legs. You need to change your workout routine and dietary regimen if you have mainly muscles and want them to shrink a bit. If there’s excessive fat, you need to work the whole body and burn fat, not just focus on the thighs.

  How To Exercise To Get Slim Without Bulking Up Your Thighs

Small thighs require big steps:

  1. Start the workout regimen by doing cardio exercises. They will help you burn fat all over the body, including your legs – running, biking, or swimming for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, will help to form the shape of thighs you want.
  2. Lean muscle mass will build better under the combination of cardio and strength training, at least 2 times a week. 
  3. Don’t overeat after training. You need to create a calorie deficit to lose fat, not to replenish your storage with more and more food. 
  4.  Make a healthy diet, including plenty of lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Such an approach will help you slim down, including the legs. 
  5. Keep hydrated during the day to prevent water retention. 
  6. Focus on your mental health. Emotional well-being is 50% of your success; it gives inner strength and motivation to keep going. 

If you focus on the well-being and toning of the whole body, you will also see changes in your legs’ size.

Reduce The Number Of Intense Workouts Focused On Your Lower Body 

Avoid too intense workouts focused on your legs to reach a slimming effect for your thighs. It doesn’t mean you need to forget about leg exercises; however, try to keep a balance because soon you will be looking for workouts to slim your upper body. 

Focus On Activities That Help Lengthen Your Muscles     

It may sound weird, but it is possible to lengthen or shorten muscles. Sedentary lifestyle and immobilization cause muscles to decrease in length. Resistance training will force muscles to increase in length. Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, which we need for a range of activities we perform day by day. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when we need specific muscles for an activity, they are weak and unable to extend.

More Cardio 

Another great way to get skinny legs is by doing more cardio. Cardiovascular exercises help burn fat all over your body, including your legs. If you schedule at least 30 minutes of cardio 4 – 5 times a week, try doing 30 minutes of cardio four to five times a week to reach the slimming effect. A positive side of cardio exercises is that they are diverse – running, cycling, walking, and swimming. You can always change the type of workout or your route, leaving no chances for routine. 

Other Ways Of Getting Your Muscular Legs Slim

Muscles are built not just with exercises. Your success depends on the calorie intake and types of food on your menu. Before asking how to get skinny thighs, ensure your size is big and needs reduction. Sometimes self-criticism can play a bad joke on you. 

If your muscular legs are well wrapped with fat tissue, then you need to lose weight in the whole body, including your thighs. 

Start with the body mass index to define your weight category; just follow a simple calculation:

BMI = kg/m2

A BMI of 25.0 or more is overweight, while the healthy range is 18.5 to 24.9

If you are in a risky zone, you should plan better your workout routine and make a new dietary regimen.

According to the recommendation, healthy weight loss is around 1-2 pounds a week. 1 pound takes 3500 calories. Thus, if you burn 3500 – 7000 calories a week, you will be able to get rid of excess fat tissue and make muscle tissue stronger without gaining weight.

Calculate Your Daily Caloric Needs

Slimming legs requires the engagement of the whole body. Spot targeting may not be as efficient as you want. Before you work out insanely in the gym, you need to understand how many calories you need to consume. The basic caloric needs (BMR index) provide energy for the proper functioning of your body: breathing, digestion, blood circulation, and work of organs. Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is determined by many factors: sex, age, and body size. The formula requires several measurements:

For women, BMR = 655.1 + (9.563 x weight in kg) + (1.850 x height in cm) – (4.676 x age in years)

For men, BMR = 66.47 + (13.75 x weight in kg) + (5.003 x height in cm) – (6.755 x age in years)

The calories you get give you the energy to be alive and maintain functionality. If you create a calorie deficit, don’t go lower than 1200 calories; otherwise, you’ll be exhausted and discouraged; however, with quite slim legs, which can’t perform the exercises.

Exercises That Will Help Slim Your Muscular Legs 

Wondering how to slim muscular thighs, you should consider the following types of workouts. They don’t target a thigh zone specifically; however, they are most practical in terms of engaging lower body muscle groups. 


Squats [1] are always on the list for those who want to strengthen the lower body, especially hip muscles, calves, and hamstrings:

  • Squats help you burn calories and, thus, lose weight.
  • The squat movement strengthens bones, tendons, and ligaments.
  • The regular approach will help you eliminate fat in the calves and make the thighs more toned.
  • Squatting benefits the strength of your bones, making you less prone to injuries and damages
  • Squats improve your flexibility, which is especially important while aging.
  • Squats improve your overall experience because your muscles become more firm, and you can easily keep your balance and posture.

In order to reap all the benefits of squatting for the body and get skinny thighs in particular, it’s essential to focus on the proper form of squats. Trying to do more without following the appropriate position can deteriorate your knees and ligaments.

Classic squat:

  1. Stand with your feet apart and place your hands on your thighs.
  2. Bend your knees to a 90-degree angle, putting all your weight on your heels and sitting back slowly.
  3. Your knees don’t go beyond your toes; your head and chest stay upright.
  4. Hold the position for 5 seconds.
  5. Stand back up, pressing through your heels, and straighten your hips back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat five times.

Being part of regular training, squats will strengthen your knees and ankles, having a protective function in the long run. However, it’s essential to consult the doctor first and ensure this type of exercise suits you.

Goblet Squat

The dumbbell goblet squat is a variation of the classic squat with a lot of emphasis on the quads.

How to do it:

  1. Choose a dumbbell and place it at chest height, with each hand supporting the edge of the dumbbell.
  2. Take a deep breath and start lowering by pushing the hips back and bending the knees.
  3. Once your thighs are parallel with the floor, hold the position for 2-3 seconds and begin to drive back. 
  4. Keep your abs braced and move your feet through the floor.
  5. Drive back to the starting position and repeat again.
  6. Drive through the whole foot making 3 points of contact: big toe, little toe, and heel.

Plié Squat

Pile squat puts pressure on your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves; added weight increases resistance and forces your core muscles to keep balance.

How to do:

  1. Take a standard squat position and rotate your feet so that the toes point away from your body – roughly 30-degree angles to your body.
  2. Hold one end of a dumbbell with both hands.
  3. Lower your body and let the loose end of the dumbbell face the floor.
  4. Keep your back straight as you raise and lower your body.

Start with five squats and keep progressing once you learn the proper technique.


Cycling is an excellent way to get skinny legs without gaining extra muscle mass. It also helps to lose control, maintain a healthy body weight, and have fun. It’s a low-impact exercise, making your joints less strenuous and tensed; thus, it’s suitable for all ages. Apart from slimming down your legs, cycling has a positive impact on other aspects of your health.

  • Cycling and weight control.

Combined with a healthy diet, cycling raises your metabolic rate, builds muscle, and burns body fat. It is a comfortable form of exercise that doesn’t restrict you in its usage. You may vary the speed, time, and intensity to your needs.

Steady cycling burns about 300 calories per hour. Research shows that a half-hour bike ride every day will burn nearly five kilograms of fat over a year [2].

However, if you are a devoted cyclist, the excess fat doesn’t go away; you need to review your menu and eating habits.

  • Cycling and heart health

Regular cycling stimulates and improves your heart, lungs, and blood circulation, therefore, reducing your risk of cardiovascular diseases. A Danish study conducted over 14 years with 30,000 people aged 20 to 93 years found that regular cycling protected people from heart disease [3].

  • Cycling and skeletal system

Riding a bike helps to improve your balance and coordination. Cycling improves strength, balance, and coordination. It is an ideal form of exercise if you have osteoarthritis because it places little stress on joints.

  • Cycling and mental health

If stress, anxiety, and depression made you a lifelong partner, it’s time to buy a bike. The feeling of freedom and joy you get from a bike ride will gradually help you get rid of such gloomy companions, showing you not only a healthier but a happier side of life.


How to get thinner legs? Try deadlifts. The deadlift is a movement in which your hips hinge backward to lower down and pick up a weight from the floor with your back always flat. By performing deadlifts, you reach several benefits in one fell swoop – getting smaller thighs and losing weight, besides, and profound whole-body workout.

Single-Leg Deadlift To Reverse Lunge 

This type of deadlift is a skinny legs workout that targets the hamstrings and glutes.

How to do:

  1. Stand straight and brace your core muscles.
  2. Take a giant step backward with your left foot; bend your right knee until it’s at 90°, and lower your left knee until it is also bent at a right angle.
  3. Push back up.
  4. When you are near the starting position, lean forward and bend at the hip while the back leg moves up and away; the lower back should stay straight.
  5. Slowly bring the chest towards the floor, extending the opposite leg.

Single-Leg Deadlift

A Single Leg Deadlift is a helpful tool designed to get skinny legs without building too much muscle.

How to do:

  1. Stand with both feet hip-width apart. Shift your weight to the right leg, which is a soft bend in the knee. 
  2. Drive your left foot back like stamping the bottom of your foot on the wall behind; keep the leg straight. 
  3. At the same time, start hinging at the waist, bringing your torso forward until it’s almost parallel to the floor. 
  4. Keep your arms straight, at shoulder height, and perpendicular to the floor at all times. 
  5. At the bottom of the position, your body should be in a straight line from the top of your head to the bottom of your left foot. 
  6. Next, pull your left leg forward, keeping it straight, and lift your torso up until you’re standing again. That’s one rep. 

The number of repetitions is up to you. Don’t forget to switch the legs. 


How to get skinny legs without building muscle? Walk them.

Walking seems to be just another life-essential action we have. When performing this movement, we move from one place to another, getting done everything we need. However, it’s worth checking all the health benefits you’ll have after making walking a part of your sports routine.

Walking is probably the easiest physical activity and lean legs program we can imagine. Keeping your regular walking routine – will help you:

  • make smaller thighs and slim down muscular legs
  • reduce body fat, and maintain a healthy weight.
  • strengthen your bones and muscles
  • improve muscle endurance
  • improve your sleep quality
  • enhance coordination and balance
  • strengthen immune system
  • lower stress and tension

Walking is especially beneficial for beginners in the sport. You may start at a slower speed and then improve your performance. If you use fitness trackers, you can always compare your results and set higher goals. You can also alternate periods of brisk walking with leisurely walking, which will improve cardiovascular fitness and burn more calories better than regular walking. Besides, if you feel you over-limited your daily calorie intake at dinner, add an evening walk to your routine to spend the energy and build muscle as a bonus.

Jogging Or Running 

Despite the type of lean legs program you have, there will definitely be jogging or running, as these are they are among the best workouts for toning legs and losing weight. When you walk outside, pay attention to the slim legs of joggers and runners (not the beginners, of course). 

Jogging and running burn many calories quicker than other types of sports.

 Jogging doesn’t target the fat specifically on your thighs; however, it stimulates weight loss and muscle toning, resulting in slim muscular legs.

Running and jogging, unlike cycling, are high-impact exercises because your body-weight shifts from one leg to the other all the time. They help to strengthen the upper body muscles because you need to keep balance while moving and tone leg muscles, as they are constantly under pressure. 

Where and how to start?

  1. Take 5 minutes to warm up and let your body prepare for an activity.
  2. Start your movement at a comfortable speed, and then increase your pace if you feel you can do it.
  3. Alternate fast and slow periods of training
  4. Include uphills and downhills, which will tone your thighs better. Avoid the routine, change your pace and routes, and make the training more diverse.
  5. As your strength and endurance improve, you may have 5 days of training and 2 days of rest. However, everything is highly-individual. Some people can exercise every day without feeling tired, some not.

Don’t expect to get smaller thighs from the first or even second week of training – it’s highly doubtful. You make the first step to ward changes; it takes time and persistence to reach a desirable result.

Most people who want to understand how to get lean legs without building muscle by running and jogging, must combine them with another form of weight loss exercise to help speed up this process.

The choice of other exercises is pretty big: weight training, swimming, HIIT, cycling and others.

And there’s one more important thing to note: when you go running, don’t think that you burn thousands of calories per mile; thus, you can eat whatever you want all day long. The calorie expenditure isn’t that big, and all your effort will be vain.

Stair Climbing

How to slim down thighs faster? Try stair climbing which is a great cardiovascular exercise; however, it goes harder on your legs, and the thighs will slim faster [4]

Stair climbing possesses all the benefits of an aerobic workout but also has its unique features:

  • Vertical Movement

Unlike walking and running, which are performed horizontally, with stair climbing, your muscles resist gravity while going up – this puts extra pressure on the lower body and thighs specifically. Your leg muscles repeatedly lift your body against gravity, and muscles must stabilize and balance the body, which moves upward.

  • Convenience

Stairs are available everywhere: in apartments, office buildings, streets, and public areas. Besides, you need no special equipment, just comfortable shoes and clothes.

Apart from the workout, you can replace the elevator with stairs, which will benefit your overall physical activity.

  • Highly-demanding

Stair climbing requires two times more calories than walking or joking on a flat surface. An intense one-hour stair-climbing session will burn approximately 1,000 calories. You burn about 0.17 calories for every step you climb, and every stair descended – 0.05 calories on average.

The heavier you are, the more calories you will burn.

  • Weather independent

Unlike running and walking, stair climbing is possible under any type of weather conditions. Therefore, the list of obstacles and excuses will be shorter.

If you are constantly bothered with the question of how to slim legs not build muscle, you need stair climbing. To get a good workout, you can try climbing stairs with 10 to 12 steps, one step at a time. A flight up and down will burn around 2 to 5 calories.

A 54kg person burns about 235 calories when climbing stairs for 30 minutes.

Many factors can influence the calories burned while climbing stairs.

Risks of stair climbing:

  • Focusing mainly on your thighs, it doesn’t address other muscle groups.
  • If you have problems with bones or soft tissues on the knees, you may worsen your condition.
  • People with excess weight and knee problems must be highly moderate when taking up stair climbing or running.


How to slim muscular thighs without super vigorous workouts? Consider adding pilates to your lean legs program. It improves thigh strength without creating bulk. When you try to lose body fat – burn stored glycogen – thighs make the most challenging goal. Pilates consists of a sequence of moves that train your inner and outer thighs and help you slim muscular legs in the long run.


Swimming is a full body workout because it engages the whole body. How to get smaller thighs? Keep your legs constantly moving. Just this step alone can enhance your tone. Swimming is a low-impact workout, so it’s suitable for any age and exercise level. Slimmer legs will no longer seem an unreachable dream if you combine swimming at least once or twice a week with another cardiovascular exercise. 

However, talk to a doctor before beginning a workout regimen and make sure you follow a healthy diet. 

Jumping Rope 

A jumping rope seems to be a tool from the past, but definitely not the way to make legs slimmer and lose fat. It does excellent resistance training and improves your overall fitness level.

What are the other benefits of rope jumping?

  1. It stimulates weight loss throughout the body and helps reach small thighs.
  2. It helps to get your health pumping and helps to build a lower resting heart rate.
  3. It improves your cardiovascular health, preventing various diseases.
  4. It certainly is fun and improves your mental health.

If you want to lose weight and build muscle, you need to incorporate muscle endurance resistance training (like rope jumping) and cardio training. Make sure you dedicate enough time for both during the week.


Planking is classic. It looks easy to perform; however, its benefits exceed the expectations:

  1. It’s convenient, time-saving, and free – it takes only a couple of minutes and requires no special equipment.
  2. Protects your back muscles.
  3. Strengthens the core muscles, which help to perform everyday activities.
  4. Improves your posture and balance.
  5. Boosts mental well-being.
  6. Last but not least important is thigh toning; planking improves flexibility in your hamstrings and hips while toning your core, legs, and back.

Plank With Leg Lift 

Classic planks are beneficial; however, plank leg raises will take you to the next level. They boost the intensity of workouts and abdominal and lower-body muscles. Combining planking with other cardio workouts will make practical strength training without gaining extra muscle mass. 

Leg Press 

The leg press is one of the best resistance exercises and strength training in which you push the weight away with your legs. To perform this exercise, you need special equipment. It can help to build muscle without gaining muscle mass. When executed correctly, the leg press develops knees, saving it from further injury. Leg press keeps focusing on leg strength. An intensive workout will be a good way to tone your thighs and the whole body.

The Bottom Line

How to get smaller legs? It depends on the reason for the big legs and what tissue is prevailing; muscular or fatty. Anyways, when you want to have smaller-looking legs, it’s important not to focus exclusively on your thighs. You need to engage the whole body in a workout, and slimming legs will be among the results.

There’s a great variety of exercises to choose from, and they benefit your body and legs.

Another critical part of ‘leg-slimming” is a dietary regimen. In order to create a calorie deficit, go lower on the energy intake and higher on calorie expenditure. However, low-calorie consumption – less than 1100-1200 may lead to health problems.

When you want to slim legs, just set your goal and follow it. Don’t gain extra pounds; gain only personal sports achievements.


How can I get thinner legs fast? 🏃

Having sustainable and healthy weight loss can't be fast. It takes time and patience. However, quick results are possible with high calorie deficit and highly-intensive everyday workouts - running, stair climbing, etc.

Can walking slim thighs? 🏃

Walking is a moderate and beneficial type of workout. Your legs always have enough load; however, it doesn't put too much pressure on your joints. Walking is about having a good time and exercising - a perfect combo. The longer and faster you go, the stronger and slimmer legs you have. 

Why are my legs getting bigger even though I exercise? 🏃

Probably your workouts increase muscle size. You need to change the set of exercises; otherwise, you'll get bigger. What's more, control your food intake. Sometimes we don't even notice that we eat more, as long as active workouts make us hungry. 

How do I make my muscular legs thinner? 🏃

Less bulky legs are obtainable with more cardio exercises. They help you burn more calories during a fixed time, a tone up the whole body and your legs.


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Annette Nelson

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