Fitness

How to Get Skinny Legs: The Exercises and Workout for Perfect Legs

Interested in rocking out your calves and hamstrings for that sexy, athletic appearance? Learn how to get skinny legs fast with our step by step guide.

Want mini skirt perfect thighs, butt, and glutes this summer? Read on.

More than likely, you’ve been working toward these goals for some time – probably with less than stellar results. If your ambition for hot, skinny legs has produced only lukewarm results, it’s time to step it up with a targeted resistance program combined with intense sessions of cardio to finally give you that rockin’ hot lower body.

Here's how to get skinny legs:

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The key is weight training.

That simple truth marks the difference between lower body success and failure. As a woman, you may have an aversion to the very idea of weight training, based on the subconscious fear that you will somehow become bulky and out of proportion. The sooner you get over that Stone Age notion, the better. The truth is that you simply don’t have enough testosterone coursing through your body to develop muscular bulk.

So, what will weight training do for your legs?

Why not click on over to Youtube and take a look at some figure bikini competitors to find out. What you’ll see should have you ready to pick up some serious iron – women with legs that go on for miles, leaving men drooling in their wake.

Weight training, when combined with clean eating and protein supplements, will build and shape muscle. And the more muscle you have on your body, the less fat you’ll have. That’s because every pound of muscle takes 5 times more energy to maintain than a pound of fat. Consequently, you’ll be burning more calories every minute of the day.

Weight Training Essentials

woman after workout in gym

Before we delve into the specifics of your skinny legs weight training program, let’s take a look at some fundamental training precepts.

  • Volume: How much work should you do during the workout? This relates to the number of reps and sets you should do. For ideal lower body training effect, you’ll want to do between 8 and 12 repetitions per set. You should do 3 sets per exercise.
  • Intensity: How heavy is the weight that you’re going to be using? The answer is that you should be doing reps with a weight that is about 70% of your 1 rep max (how much weight you can lift in good form one time only). Another way to work out the ideal weight is that it should allow you to get between 8 and 12 repetitions. Start with a weight that you can do 8 reps with. As you get stronger, you’ll be able to add reps progressively. When you can do 12 reps, it’s time to increase the weight slightly and drop the reps back to 8.
  • Rest: How long do you rest between sets? The ideal rest period to maintain intensity while allowing sufficient recovery is 60 seconds.
  • Tempo: How fast or slow should you do the exercise? The more time you put your muscular system under load the better. To increase time under tension we can slow down our repetitions. The ideal tempo is 3-0-3. That means that the concentric part of the movement (lifting the weight) is about 3 seconds, and the eccentric part of the movement (lowering the weight is about 3 seconds).
  • Frequency: How many times a week should you work out? The proven best way to elicit a response from your body is to train each body part twice per week. You should have 3 days rest between each workout. Monday and Thursday works well for most people.

The Skinny Legs Exercises

You don’t have to join a gym to sculpt super hot legs, but you do have to include resistance training in your program. You’ll start with your own body weight but, as you grow stronger, you’ll want to add resistance in the form of barbell, dumbbell, and machine weight plates. You’ll be doing your resistance twice per week as follows.

Start with a 5 minute warm-up, which gets your legs moving. Skipping, running on a treadmill or cycling are all good options. You should also start every exercise with a warm-up set with no resistance.

The Exercises:

1. Squats

Young slim woman exercising in a gym for skinny legs

  • Position yourself under the bar and lift it off the rack. Step back and stand with your feet spread slightly wider than shoulder width and pointing slightly outward.
  • Keep your back straight, your chest thrust out and your head up. Now tense your abdominal wall, bend your knees, and lower your body until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Do not allow your butt to go back when you squat. Rather, try to go straight up and down like a piston.
  • To avoid excess strain on the knees, don’t go down any further. While squatting, keep your head up and your back slightly arched.
  • In the bottom squat position, your lower legs should be almost vertical to the floor. Push through your heels as you return to the starting position.

2. Lunges

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them at arm’s length by your side. Your feet should be shoulder width apart. Maintain a neutral spine the entire time.
  • Now, take a large step forward with your right leg so that you have a 90-degree bend in that leg.
  • Come down so that your back knee just kisses the ground. To come back, push off of your front toe.
  • Alternate legs as you complete your repetitions.

3. Leg Extensions

young women training weights with legs

The leg extension is a weight resistance machine that allows you specifically to work the quadriceps (the four muscles that make up your thighs). It consists of a seat that allows you to slip your feet under a pad that is connected to a weight stack. Handles are usually provided for you to grip while performing the movement. The beauty of this machine is that it allows for total isolation of not only the thighs, but specific portions of your thighs. Imagine taking a blowtorch to your problem areas – that’s what this movement can do for you!

  • To target the outer area of your thighs, sit on the leg extension machine, leaning back so that your butt is close to the end of the seat.
  • Point your toes and slowly extend your legs until they are straight. As you lift, apply a slight amount of pressure as if you were trying to separate your legs. Remember to keep your toes pointed throughout the motion. This combination of pointed toes and slight outward pressure will shift the emphasis to your outer quads.
  • Hold the top position for a second and then slowly lower to the starting position, maintaining control of the weight throughout the entire movement.

In order to target the inner thighs, lean forward while sitting on the machine. Your butt will now be right back at the base of the seat. Pull your toes back and roll your ankles in slightly. Keeping your feet in this position, extend your legs. As the weight rises, lean forward into the motion, feeling for the tension along the inside of your legs.

4. Leg Curls

A female lies on a hamstring curl machine in a gym

The leg curl is a machine that targets the hamstrings and glutes. It comprises a bench that you lie on, with your feet under a pad at the ankles, which is connected to a weight stack.

  • For optimal performance with this great butt shaper, hook your feet under the leg curl bar.
  • Drop your chest down flat against the bench, but keep your head up and your back arched slightly.
  • Curl the bar up as high as it will go. Tense your glutes as you lift the weight. Keep your hips down throughout the movement. Hold for a second in the top position before gliding the weight back to its start position. As with the leg extension, be sure to maintain control of the weight at all times during the descent.

5. Standing Calf Raises

The calf raise machine consists of a pair of shoulder pads connected to a weight stack. The machine has a foot plate on which you place your toes.

  • Position yourself under the shoulder pads and place your feet on the foot plate, ensuring that only the toes are on it.
  • Grip the handles, which are positioned by your shoulders, and ensure that you maintain a neutral back position throughout the movement.
  • Without bending your knees and while keeping you body in a plane (don’t allow your butt to drift backwards), rise up on your toes to a fully stretched calf position. Hold that position for 2 seconds before lowering down to fully contracted calf position. Make sure that you get a full stretch and that knees remain locked at all times.

They key to the effectiveness of this exercise is the slowness of the descent. You should take twice as long to go down as you come up.

The Skinny Legs Workout

Warm-up: 5 minute cardio

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Note:Your resistance exercises involve a pyramid rep system. This involves starting with a resistance that allows you to do 12 repetitions. On the next set, add a small amount of extra resistance that only allows you to get 10 repetitions. For the third set, add more resistance such that you can only do 8 repetitions. You may find that, on some movements, you won’t have to add weight as the fatigue factor will naturally prevent you from getting the same amount of reps on subsequent reps.

  • Squats: 3 sets pyramided from 12 / 10 / 8
  • Lunges: 3 sets of 12 reps on each leg
  • Leg Extensions: 2 sets pyramided from 12/ 10
  • Leg Curls: 2 sets pyramided from 12/ 10
  • Standing Calf Raises: 3 sets pyramided from 12 / 10 / 8

The Second Tier: Stripping Fat

The weight training workout that we’ve already outlined will give your quads, hamstrings, and calves the muscular shape and strength that you want. But, unless you get rid of the fat that already sits on top of those muscles, all that hard work won’t be seen by anyone.

To know how to get skinny legs, you need to know how to burn off the fat. Keep in mind that it is impossible to spot reduce fat, so the targeted weight training that is hitting your legs won’t specifically remove fat from those areas.

In order to burn away the fat from your hips and thighs you need to engage in regular high intensity cardio exercise that will burn calories all over your body. The most effective way to do that is with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

HIIT Cardio

start run

HIIT involves doing quick bursts of all out cardio exercise followed by even shorter rest periods. You should choose an exercise that you feel comfortable performing to you maximum level of effort. Sprinting, cycling or using a rowing machine are good options. The former two are great options for you because they also work your legs.

Here’s how to perform HIIT training for maximum fat loss.

  • Do a light warm-up for 2 minutes making sure to move through a full range of motion
  • Using a timer or a partner, sprint to maximum capacity for exactly 20 seconds. Go all out, as if you were being chased by a (very hungry) Doberman
  • Rest for exactly 10 seconds
  • Sprint for another 20 seconds
  • Continue this process for a total of 8 sprints – work as hard as possible not to let the intensity of your sprints diminish (they naturally will but keep it to a minimum)

If you have pushed hard enough during these 4 minutes of training, at the end of it you will be writhing on the floor. That’s a good thing. You need to make this training as intense as possible. Remember that it will be all over inside of 6 minutes – and that includes the warm-up.

You should perform your HIIT cardio training three days per week on days that you are not hitting the weights. Try to give a day’s break between each session. For many people that will be Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.

You now have at your disposal the knowledge that the most beautiful people in the world use to develop their hot lower bodies. Hit the weights – hard but smart – twice a week and push it to the limit with your HIIT 3 times and you will begin to sculpt the sexy, skinny legs that you’ve always deserved – but never known how to get. Good luck!

About the author

Steve Theunissen

Steve Theunissen is a former gym owner and personal trainer who lives in New Zealand with his wife, Shelley, and two daughters. For the last decade, Steve has taught literacy to Middle School students. He also runs a fitness boot camp for pre-teens.

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