Heavy lifters and crossfitters have often seemed to have very bulky legs due to the amount of muscle they build throughout their workouts. It’s good to remember though, that a lot of the time, people who have bulky legs want to have bulky legs. It’s no accident. So if you are scared that working out a particular way may put you at risk of having bulky legs.  Here are some things you can do to make sure you keep your muscles lean.  

1. Decrease Weight and Increase Repetition

Ways-to-Avoid-Getting-Bulky-Legs-in-the-Gym-2A lot of times we hit the gym and try to get in as many repetitions as we can with the most amount of weight, hitting our ‘personal best.’ This is fine to do, as we want to see how much stronger we have gotten over a certain time period. Lifting heavy weights with smaller repetitions though, will give you a bulky look. To continue getting strong but create lean muscle it’s best to decrease the weight and increase the repetitions. For example doing squats or single leg lunges for fifteen repetitions instead of five with less weight will still allow you to gain muscle while avoiding the ‘bulky’ look.

2. Incorporate Cardio

If we go to the gym five days a week and only lift, there is no doubt we are going to build muscle and over time this could become ‘bulky’ muscle. Incorporating cardio such as long distance running, or swimming will cause the muscles in your legs to become leaner by transforming the structure and size of your legs. Making cardio a part of your workout regimen will not rid all of the muscle you worked so hard for, it will lean it out and avoid the bulky look you do not want. Make sure you aren’t ONLY doing cardio though, this will stunt your metabolism and ultimately may have you gain back any weight you initially lost. Building muscle mass speeds up your metabolism, which is why it is very important to continue incorporating your lifting routine while doing cardio.

3. Yoga and Stretching

While lifting and doing cardio multiple times a week, we can often overlook stretching. Stretching has many benefits such as alleviating pain, and reducing potential injury. But what a lot of people don’t know is that incorporating stretching and yoga reduces fat in the legs and also encourages the development of muscle without any added bulk.

Related: Easy Yoga Stretches for your Low Back Pain

4. High Intensity Interval Training

HIIT is a training technique where you give one hundred percent effort for a quick, and intense burst of exercise followed by short recovery periods. This type of training gets your heart rate up and burns fat in a shorter amount of time. If you are focusing on getting slim and toned legs this is an awesome type of workout to incorporate two to three times a week. Hill sprints or stationary bike sprints are both great HIIT workouts – sprint for 20-30 seconds and rest for 10, then repeat for 8-10 rounds.

5. Clean Up Your Diet

As much as you incorporate the four tips above, if you do not have a good diet none of the tips will matter. Exercising can only do so much; half the battle is what you eat. Overeating will make it a lot harder to burn off those extra calories each week, and soon those extra calories will turn into extra pounds. Incorporate fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains as well as lean meats and healthy fats. This will help you to lose weight, get trim and toned, and avoid those bulky legs.

Read more: How to Get Rid of Your Saddlebags in 4 Easy Exercises