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Bulging biceps and strong, sleek abs -- you have the upper-body strength and definition, but not the strong legs to go with it. Skinny legs are an opportunity for you to build bulk and muscle that helps you appear more proportional. The key to bulking up skinny legs is strength-training exercise that focuses on each major muscular aspect of your leg: quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. Set aside at least two days per week to focus on your legs, recommends David Sandler, MS, CSCS, writing on Muscle & Fitness. Always speak with your physician before beginning any exercise program, however, to ensure you are in good enough health to begin.
Warm up your body for five to 10 minutes by walking or lightly jogging in place. This prepares your muscles for the work ahead while preventing injury.
Start with hamstring-working exercises because your hamstrings can be a tough muscle group to bulk. If you're hitting the gym, a lying leg curl where you lie on your stomach and bring your legs in toward your buttocks can work the hamstrings. Lunges also work the hamstrings. Try a variation where you cross your front foot slightly across your body and lunge to better target the hamstrings.
Target the quadriceps or front aspect of your thighs with a dumbbell step-up. This exercise can be performed at home or in the gym. Grab a dumbbell in each hand and climb stairs by two steps to work the front of your legs. Carry a weight heavy enough that you can comfortably complete between eight and 10 repetitions.
Work your calves by jumping rope for 30-second to one-minute intervals, keeping your legs straight and using your ankles and calves to push off against the ground. Take 15- to 30-second breaks between intervals until your calves feel tired, but not exhausted. Strong, defined calves can eliminate the вЂњchickenвЂќ leg look that can accompany skinny legs.
Squat to incorporate many of the leg muscle groups you just worked with a challenging finish. Ending with squats allows you to first focus on smaller muscle groups like the hamstrings. Hold either a weighted barbell or dumbbell in each hand. Because you are at the end of your workout, you may need to cut back on the weight. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart as you bend your knees and lower your buttocks to the ground, stopping when your thighs are parallel to the floor. Straighten your legs. Repeat eight times for two sets.
Bring your heart rate down by walking in place and stretching the muscles you worked to relieve muscle tension. Examples include pulling your knee toward your chest or touching your toes while seated or standing. Take deep breaths as you hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds.
- To maximize your muscle-building results, ensure you are consuming enough protein in your diet. Protein helps to repair muscle tears from weightlifting, making your legs stronger and bigger. Samantha Heller, RD, a dietitian writing on "Men's Fitness," recommends taking in between 0.5 and 0.7 grams of protein per pound of your body weight. Examples of protein-containing foods include chicken, turkey, fish, soybeans and protein powders, such as casein and whey.