You can't choose from where you lose weight, and you can't really pick where you gain it either. If you have long, thin legs, you may desire a bigger, more solid-looking base. Adding calories to your diet and incorporating a focused lower-body strength-building routine may help encourage some weight to go to your legs, but you can't guarantee the results. A woman's genes determine her shape, as well as if and where she'll build muscle.
Calories Help You Create Leg Muscle
To gain muscle, consume a slight surplus in calories. Use an online calculator or consult a dietitian to determine your daily calorie burn, and then consume about 250 to 500 calories more than that amount daily. As a woman, you may be used to advice telling you to eat less, but your body needs the extra fuel to build muscle in your legs.
Add those calories by eating more vegetables, fruits, lean protein, low-fat dairy or whole grains, not from more junk foods. Also aim to eat slightly more protein -- about 0.5 gram per pound of body weight daily, which is an increase over the 0.36-gram minimal recommendation. Go for lean options, such as skinless chicken, trimmed steak, white fish or tofu.
Exercise to Gain Leg Weight
Although you can't make your body gain weight in your legs, you can perform exercises that encourage the growth of leg muscle. Squats, lunges and step-ups are examples of such moves that target the legs and recruit a lot of muscle fibers for growth. When you do exercises intended to build muscle in your legs, lift weight that is between 75 and 85 percent of the maximum weight you could lift one time, called your one-rep maximum. The weight should feel extremely challenging by the last two to three repetitions in each set of six to 12 repetitions. Rest 30 to 90 seconds between each of three to five sets total.
Your emphasis may be your legs, but don't leave out the upper body when strength training. A woman needs a balanced frame for function and appearance. The chest, back, shoulders, abdominals and arms should also be addressed with at least one exercise twice per week. Leave a day between strength-training specific muscle groups to give the muscles time to recover and repair.
Proper Workout Nutrition Encourages Growth
When you plan your day's calories, budget enough to have both a preworkout and post-workout meal. Consuming a snack made with a combination of carbohydrates and protein before and after your workout can help you gain lean muscle size.
A whey protein shake made with one scoop of protein powder, milk and fresh fruit makes a convenient workout snack. Simply drink half before you weight-train and the other half afterward. You could also turn to whole food, such as two hard-boiled eggs and a banana, before exercise and a few ounces of chicken breast with a sweet potato afterward.
Female Body Type and Leg Size
Your ability to increase your leg size and gain muscle depends a lot on your genes. If you're an ectomorph, a body type with thin bones and low body fat, it's harder to add muscle mass. Your body is just naturally thin and limited by your genes. You can gain some weight with strength-training and a healthy calorie surplus, but attaining body-builder-type legs may be impossible. People with medium-size or large bone structures may get the most leg size increase with focused exercise and a calorie surplus. Regardless of your results, exercise and a healthy diet make you a fitter, stronger woman.