how to get skinny legs without building muscle

How to Get Skinny Legs Without Building Muscle?

While there are a lot of people who are working to gain muscle mass in their leg muscles, there are plenty of others who want to lose body fat from their lower body without gaining muscle in the thigh muscles, calves, and hamstrings. Other people are keen to reduce the size of muscular thighs.

If you are one of those people, then this article is for you. In it, I will lay out the best way to get skinny legs without building muscle. 

Discover Your Body Type

The first step to getting skinny legs is to identify what your body type is. That’s because different body types tend to bulk in the upper body while others tend to build muscle in the thigh muscles. Let’s break it down.

Premium Vector | Constitution of human body. man body types. endomorph,  ectomorph and mesomorph. athletic young men in shorts.


An ectomorph has a naturally skinny body and usually struggles to build muscle. Ectomorphs will usually not have muscular thighs so will need to focus on losing some thigh fat. They should also use heavy weights for basic resistance exercises to create a toned body. 


A mesomorph is naturally athletic and finds it quite easy to add muscle mass. Mesomorphs should avoid going heavy on compound leg exercises if they are trying not to build lower body muscle mass. Instead, they should use light weights for higher reps. 


Endomorphs tend to put on weight very quickly. They need to work hard to lose body fat, especially in the lower body. If you are in endomorph you will need to emphasize lots of fat-burning cardio along with a reduced calorie diet.

Cardio Workouts 

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To lose weight in the legs you will need to do plenty of calorie-burning cardio exercise. However, you need to choose exercises that will not build lean muscle tissue while it burns calories. So, you should stay away from sprinting, or other intense forms of cardio that stress your thigh muscles. 

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We recommend doing steady-state cardio exercise so that you can keep up for a long time without getting sore muscles. Power walking is an excellent example. This is an easily accessible form of exercise that you can keep doing prolonged time to burn plenty of calories. 

We recommend power walking for 30 to 45 minutes per day, several times per week. For maximum fat-burning results, you should do your cardio in a fasted state. This can be achieved by walking first thing in the morning before you have breakfast. Your body’s glycogen stores will be depleted so that it turns into your body fat stores by the energy needed for this exercise.

If you are not a power-walking sort of person, there are plenty of other steady-state cardio options available that will allow you to burn a lot of calories without building muscle size in your legs. Swimming is an excellent option. It is very joint-friendly and burns a lot of calories. You should be aware, however, that swimming may build muscle in your shoulders, back, and chest.

Other good options are boxing, Pilates, yoga, and exercising on a rowing machine. The key is to find the type of steady-state exercise that you enjoy the most and to do it on a regular basis.

Leg Slimming Nutrition

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in order to lose weight from your legs, you need to create a caloric deficit. This means taking in fewer calories each day than your body is burning up for energy. You can achieve this by reducing your daily calorie intake by 500. At the same time, cut back on junk food and high-carbohydrate processed food items.

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Increase your intake of protein, such as lean meats, dairy, and eggs. Protein will fill your body up and increase your metabolism so that you are burning more calories even while you are not exercising. You should also eat more healthy fats and fiber to provide your body with a carb-free source of energy and to keep you feeling full and satisfied.

What Not To Do to Slim Your Legs

Do Not Do Leg Pumping Exercises

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You should avoid doing strength training workouts for your lower body when you are trying to get skinny legs. Weight training will pump up your thighs and lead to muscle gain. Exercises like traditional squats with weights should be avoided. However, you can do calisthenics exercises that involve your lower body such as air squats, jumping lunges, and plyo jumps. These types of non-strength training exercises are great calorie burners that will not increase the size of your leg muscles.

Do Sprint Training

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Even though you should be doing steady-state cardio exercise every day, you need to avoid anaerobic cardio. That is the type of heart-out, intense sprints type training that is associated with HIIT workouts. Even though these types of workouts are very good for burning calories, they will also add muscle mass to your legs, and so should be avoided.

Instead of doing Sprint training type workouts, you can do bodyweight lower body exercises. These will maintain your muscle health and build endurance, while also burning calories.


When you’re trying to get skinny legs, you need to carefully choose the right exercises that allow you to burn calories without building muscle. Focus on doing movements that you can sustain for a long period of time. That way you’ll burn the maximum calories without overly stressing the muscles of your legs, especially the quadriceps.

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We recommend doing power walking as your main exercise to get skinny legs. Do this several times a week for 30 to 45 minutes. At the same time, cut back your daily calorie consumption by 500, at out junk food and processed other hydrates, and replace them worth lean proteins, healthy fats, and fiber. Do these things consistently, and you will end up with the skinny legs that you are aiming for.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you lose muscle from your legs?

Yes, you can lose muscle in your legs. You can achieve that goal with a combination of a reduced-calorie diet and steady-state cardio exercise. Walking, rowing, and using an elliptical trainer are all good cardio exercise options. 

What is the best exercise to slim down the legs?

The best exercise to slim down the legs is power walking. This form of exercise will burn plenty of calories without being so intense that it will build muscle in the quads and calves. 

How should I eat to get slimmer legs?

To get slimmer legs, you should reduce your daily caloric intake by 500 calories per day. Follow a clean diet that is high in protein, and fiber, along with complex carbs and healthy fats.

Steve Theunissen

Steve Theunissen is a former gym owner and personal trainer based in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness, and fat loss.

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