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How to Lean Out Thick Legs

author image Jennifer Andrews
Jennifer Andrews specializes in writing about health, wellness and nutrition. Andrews has a Master of Science in physical therapy from the University of Alberta as well as a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. She teaches yoga and pilates and is a recent graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.
How to Lean Out Thick Legs
Get lean legs with long-distance cardio and good nutrition. Photo Credit Maridav/iStock/Getty Images

Achieving a set of lean legs is no easy feat; however, it can be accomplished with hard work and knowledge. To lean out, you will need to reduce your overall body fat with cardiovascular exercise a minimum of five times per week, as well as strength training two to three times per week. Eliminate processed and high-caloric foods from your diet as well to really lean out thick legs.

Go the Distance

How to Lean Out Thick Legs
Long distance runners tend to have leaner legs than sprinters. Photo Credit TommL/iStock/Getty Images

Long distance runners tend to have leaner legs than sprinters that focus more on short-distance, high-intensity work. The body uses glycogen and fat stores as fuel initially, but when running longer distances it may have to use protein as a fuel. This leads to degradation of muscle, muscle loss, and ultimately leaner legs. If you normally run three to five miles during the week, increase the distance gradually each week such that you're running anywhere from five to 10 miles a few times per week. If you're not a runner, try biking, swimming or walking longer distances than usual.

Toned Up Gams

How to Lean Out Thick Legs
Strength training will also help you lean out your legs. Photo Credit payphoto/iStock/Getty Images

Strength training two to three times per week will help you lean out your legs. The key is to focus on a variety of exercises that recruit a large number of leg muscles including the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, hip abductors and adductors. Focus on increasing endurance and toning the muscles versus achieving muscle bulk by using lighter weights that fatigue your legs within 12 to 15 repetitions. Start with your bodyweight for most exercises and add weight as you get stronger. Complete one to two sets of each exercise. A sample leg workout may include calf raises, squats, walking lunges, side-lying leg lifts and burpees.

Add Intervals

How to Lean Out Thick Legs
High intensity training is good for burning off stubborn leg fat. Photo Credit YouraPechkin/iStock/Getty Images

Although long distance exercise will help to lean out your legs, higher-intensity training will also help you burn off stubborn leg fat. Interval training involves exercising at a hard effort, in which you cannot carry on a conversation, alternated with lighter efforts for recovery to prepare you for your next hard effort. Perform high-intensity workouts one to two times per week for 30- to 45-minute sessions. Try running one minute hard followed by two minutes easy. Repeat intervals eight to 10 times and included a warm-up and a cool-down. The less body-fat you have, the leaner your legs will look.

Your Legs Are What You Eat

How to Lean Out Thick Legs
Make sure you are eating a healthy and balanced diet. Photo Credit Jacob Wackerhausen/iStock/Getty Images

Nutrition plays a key role in leaning out thick legs. In addition to regular exercise, you will need to eat a healthy diet that is low in calories but high in nutrients for fat-loss. Fill your plate with vegetables primarily, as well as lean protein, some fruits and healthy fats. Eat three well-balanced meals per day as well as one to two snacks ideally before and/or after your workout to refuel tired muscles. Keep snacks simple with a balance of carbs and protein such as an almond milk banana smoothie or an apple with nut butter.

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