How To Lose Muscle In Your Legs

how to lose muscle in legs

Got tree trunk legs?

Boxers call it roadwork, lazy people call it torture, athletes call it training, and I call it necessary – if you wan’t to reduce the size of your legs. What am I talking about? Running.

I’m one of those people who can just think about his legs for a moment and they’ll grow. It’s a real pain, and something I’ve come to live with. Even if I do a single set of squats, I’ll notice muscle growth in my legs. Some people need to really work to get their legs to grow; not me. It’s an unwritten rule amongst people like myself to never, ever train your legs. The second you do, your legs explode. All of a sudden, my pants don’t fit, I look out-of-balance, and I feel more sluggish. Not to mention, you start to look horrible.

Some steroid-loving gym buffs think a huge ass and tree trunks for legs look good, well not me. I want my legs to look natural, and to look good in clothes. I think this is something that often goes unmentioned in the fitness world, but also something that a lot of people desire. It’s perfectly understandable that someone would want trim, functional, and natural look legs instead of a bulky tree trunks. Below is my recommendations on how to deal with bulky, muscular legs.

How To Get Smaller Legs

  • Stop Working Out Your Legs. First of all, to lose muscle in your legs, you need to completely stop any and all exercises which directly work your legs. You won’t be able to lose any significant size in your legs if you are doing direct leg work of any kind. If you’ve been doing regular leg work as part of your routine, it can be difficult to just drop it. However, you need to think about your priorities here, and if losing size in your legs is important to you, then it’s got to be done.
  • Secondly, Stop Biking. It’s a cardinal rule amongst people looking to lessen the size of their lower body to never ride a bike; whether it be outside or on a stationary bike at the gym. Bikes do a fantastic job of building muscle in your thighs and butt. This is great.. if you don’t want smaller legs. As a rule of thumb, you want to avoid anything that creates a “pump” in your legs. That pump is a sign that you’ve triggered the muscle, and that’s definitely something you don’t want.
  • Start Running. The only sure-fire way to lose muscle in your legs (short of being completely sedentary) is to do something called marathon cardio. This is low intensity, continuous, steady-state cardio that is performed for a long period of time. I’m not talking about the quick around-the-block run that takes you 10 minutes. I’m talking about going out for a run that lasts 45-60 minutes. You may not be able to run for this amount of time right off the bat, especially if you’ve never really ran before. That’s ok, just start at a lesser time and work your way up over the course of a few weeks. Start with just 10-15 minute runs, 3 times a week, and work up your times and frequency from there. It’s relatively easy to improve your running endurance – so long as you actually get out there an run at least 4 days a week.

How Often Should You Run?

As much or as little as you need to in order to see results. If you’re not happy with your leg size, run more. If you get to the point where you’re pleased with your results, you can scale back the amount you run.

If you need to, run 60 minutes a day, everyday, until you see results. When you’re looking the way you want, feel free to scale back and run for 25-30 minutes, 3 times a week for maintenance. This will keep your legs at their new size, and help prevent any new muscle or fat from creeping back up. If the size in your legs is due more to fat than muscle, it may be helpful to read this article on how to lose weight in your thighs.

Write us your thoughts about this post. Be kind & Play nice.
  1. Brogan says:

    Came across this page accidentally and am so glad-found it very useful! I have muscular legs from doing a lot of doing a lot of explosive power excersises like burpees and jumping squats and will now start me some long distance running! Thanks!

    Reply
    • Josh Vales says:

      You’re very welcome!

      Reply
      • Ben foyer says:

        JJosh has this ever worked for anyone if so i want name(s)

        Reply
        • Josh Vales says:

          Many of my clients in real life have benefitted from this, as well as countless others who’ve sent in their testimonials. And that’s not even including all the boxers who routinely use this method to get down to weight before a fight.

          Josh

          Reply
      • Brian says:

        No sorry this page is shit. Unfortunately you weren’t helpful. I am a marathon runner and have extremely bulky legs because I run on my toes. You suggesting to run is a band-aid solution and if you’re attempt is to help or even basic journalism you should find a new hobby, I’m sorry I hope this isn’t your career. I hope you find a path in life that actually helps people or just yourself. I am sorry if this comment is rude but I just would not be able to live with myself I’d not one person genuinely commented on the poor nature of this post.nif journalism or blogging is a true goal of yours please attend a class because this was awful.

        Reply
  2. Caitlin says:

    Hi Josh,

    I’ve got a few questions for you:

    1) I read a similar article to this one on Rusty Moore’s site where he said you should be doing 45-60 minutes of running without having eaten anything for 3-4 hours beforehand. If I try to do this, my blood sugar gets out of whack and I end up binging later on, which is obviously much less healthy. Do you think not eating for this long before cardio is truly necessary? What about no calories for an hour before running?

    2) Do you think lowering the amount of protein in one’s diet would help speed things along?

    3) What about going on these runs but taking walking breaks of 1-2 mins? Would that reduce their effectiveness?

    4) Do you think running outside on roads would be better to lose muscle in one’s legs compared to running on a treadmill? I know the thought behind the article is that the body will lighten up on it’s own to go easier on the joints, so as the road is harder on the joints than the treadmill, do you think it would work faster?

    Thanks!

    Caitlin

    Reply
    • Josh Vales says:

      Caitlin,

      1. No, I do not think that not eating before cardio is necessary. I think the whole “do cardio on an empty stomach” thing is really a bit of a scientific stretch, and really doesn’t play much into the equation in the long run. It’s more about calories in vs. calories out – that is what will dictate your weight loss success. No calories for an hour before running is just fine.

      2. It may, though I wouldn’t go below 0.6g per pound of bodyweight.

      3. Take a break only if you must. It is the long, slow nature of these runs which is the key to their effectiveness.

      4. In general, running outdoors (or just off a treadmill) is better and will yield better results. Though it may not make a huge difference, I would still stick to the road.

      Thanks for the questions! Hope this helps,

      Josh

      Reply
  3. Marja says:

    Great advice, probably the best I’ve seen on this topic actually. You’ve got yourself a new fit fan!

    Marja

    Reply
  4. priya says:

    hey Josh,
    Please help me with this. My knees are hurt and i cannot run. I love running. Can you give me an alternative to run that makes one lose weight on thighs and gives that sleek look? can elliptical on low resistance for 60 minutes give the same effect? if yes what should be the resistance.. i have my graduation next month.. need your help. Please do answer. thanks

    Reply
  5. Ali says:

    Hey josh, I have terrible shin splints.. Just wondering if this can be done on the elliptical with the same results? Thank you:)

    Reply
  6. Caitlin says:

    Josh,

    Which is more effective: a shorter, 25ish minute run with few to no walking breaks, or a 45ish minute run with more frequent breaks? I know the ideal is to do a 45-60 minute run with few to no breaks, but I think people who are starting out and scared of getting injured will have to pick between the two options I listed before they get to that point. Which would you say is preferable?

    Caitlin

    Reply
    • Caitlin says:

      whoops. So the two options I listed above would be on an almost daily basis. Or would it be better to alternate days running w/o breaks for 45-60 mins with complete rest days?

      Reply
  7. Valerie says:

    HI! just a quick question , I really want to loose the muscle in my legs ; whats better to run intervals or run in a steady pace?

    Reply
    • Josh Vales says:

      Hi Valerie,

      It’s definitely better to run at a steady pace! Intervals are generally at a higher intensity and tend to build up more muscle than running at a slower, steady pace for a longer period of time. Hope this helps!

      Josh

      Reply