Why Are My Thighs Getting Bigger From Exercise?

Working out can make your legs look disproportionately big.
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It's common to experience an increase in the size of your thighs at a certain point in a new workout routine. Actually, this phenomenon is not exclusive to your thighs; it's just more noticeable in that area.

In most instances, this issue will self-correct as you progress through the routine; if not, there are some steps you can take.

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Tip

Building muscle could make your thighs look disproportionately bigger than other areas of your body. Switching up your exercise routine may help you achieve more balance.

The Science Behind Your Dilemma

From an aesthetic point of view, exercises can be designed to help you lose weight or build muscle, and in many cases the workout will accomplish both. According to ACE Fitness, when you engage in high-intensity workouts, you recruit low-endurance muscle fibers known as fast- twitch, or glycolytic, fibers. These fibers are consequently broken down, and as they rebuild, they get larger. These fibers are also responsible for the size and definition of the muscles you're working.

Read more: Long-Term Effects of Natural Bodybuilding

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Second Half of the Equation

Muscle hypertrophy — the enlargement of muscle fibers — is not the only culprit here. When you first begin your workout, you will experience significant results in the area of weight loss. As you progress, your body will adjust to the intensity of the exercise and you will experience a plateau in which you will see a noticeable decline in the rate at which you are losing weight. This decline in fat loss, coupled with muscle hypertrophy, equals bigger thighs.

Read more: How Many Sets and Reps Build Big Muscles?

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Lower Your Workout Intensity

Although hypertrophied thighs can be a little scary, especially for women, it's not necessarily a bad thing. Increasing lean muscle mass assists your body in burning calories more efficiently, even while at rest, says the Cleveland Clinic; however, if you want to retard the growth of your thighs, lower the intensity of your workouts. You can do this by reducing the weight resistance and eliminating explosive movements and rapid recovery times between sets.

Adjust Diet, Cardio and Perceptions

To ensure you are able to maintain a safe and steady weight-loss rate, modify your diet by lowering it by 300 to 375 calories per day. Harvard Health advises never going below a certain amount of calories per day; for women, the number is 1,200, and for men, 1,500.

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Insert some random variations into your workout so your body cannot adjust to it. You can adjust the weight, reps, recovery time and more. You want to keep your body guessing so it can't adapt. This will allow you to maintain a steady rate of weight loss. When adjusting your workout or changing your diet, be sure to consult your physician to ensure you are not placing yourself at risk.

A lot of the time, when people are losing weight, perceived flaws begin to stand out. Measure the circumference of your thighs every week and log the number in a notebook. While you're whittling your waist or gaining more definition in your shoulders, your thighs may look big in comparison. It's no consolation, but bigger thighs may run in the family.

Read more: The Best Leg Exercises for Muscle Definition

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