We have all seen it before: You're in the gym and you see a guy with a well-developed upper body, however his lower half seems to be lacking severely, giving him a similar silhouette to that of a drumstick of a chicken.
How do you avoid the chicken leg syndrome? The most obvious answer is by putting your legs through some intense weight training, and putting them through it often.
Everyone's idea of what they want their legs to look like may be different. If you're into body building/fitness competitions, then the goal is pretty simple: muscular and extremely lean. If you're just a gym rat/everyday fitness enthusiast, you may want the bigger, bulkier look. Either way, well-developed quadriceps are always impressive and attractive.
The Muscles of the Legs
Big, Lean Muscular Thighs
Weight Training for Thighs
When your goal is develop big, muscular thighs, your training regime should be dominated by moving heavy metal. If you're older or really not trying to grow but just trying to maintain, stay fit and healthy, then the cute machines that provide balance, stabilization and safety are more ideal for you. However if you're trying to build some serious muscle, then you should be like a blacksmith and bend some metal.
- The squat, the monster of all leg exercises, is essential to front thigh development. You might be able to build some lean, muscular legs with a lot of other movements, but if thicker, bigger quads and a back side that appears to almost be three dimensional (for you ladies), then squat until you can't squat any more. Heavy weight, with low repetitions (sets between 6 to 10 reps) will add slabs of meat to your legs.
- The lunge should also be incorporated in your leg workout routine. Some people have the misconception that because you cannot go super heavy while lunging, that it's not as effective. Lunging 100 lbs really isn't all that impressive, however the lunge is more about control, balance, and strength gains of all the muscle fibers in your lower body.
- The hack squat should be in your arsenal. It stimulates almost all of the same muscles as the squat, without the risks of injury or health concerns, even though some studies have shown it places a substantial amount of stress on the knees.
- Using the leg press consistently, and adding more weight each time you use it while performing the same number of repetitions, will allow positive, progressive development to the front of the thigh. I'm not saying to emulate Ronnie Coleman and press 2200 plus lbs, but even adding 5 or 10 lbs each time helps.
- Leg extensions and other useful machines/exercises are finishers or for definition and should be used accordingly. These exercises are considered the most effective, but they will vary depending on the person and their desired fitness goals.
Learn How to Squat
Cardio Work for Thighs
I have to be careful about the amount of cardio work I put in. It's extremely easy for me to stay lean, no matter what I do. The difficult part is growing and maintaining, so for me, cardio can be a good thing or a bad thing. It's good for heart health, increasing metabolism, and improving appetite, which is indispensable for growth. Cardio also improves stamina, and the added endurance means more reps/sets with the heavy metal. The bad part of cardio can be if you're not careful and do too much. Then you are burning up the resources necessary for building new muscle, meaning your losing your gains. This is even more critical for women because women are already in an uphill fight and don't have a lot of muscle to lose. Make sure to manage your cardio sufficiently and according to your own body.
Lean Muscular Thighs
The Impact of Stress on Training
There are factors, however, that can stop the growth training of your legs dead in its tracks. Contrary to popular belief, one of the most notorious nemesis of muscular leg development, or any other muscle group developing for that matter, is stress. Stress from your job, your relationship, issues in school, or family problems perpetuates the bodies release of cortisol (stress hormone), which also happens to cause fat gain and retention. Stress does absolutely nothing but hold you back by breaking down the muscle building process. Since women have already technically drawn the "short end of the stick," by having more fat and less muscle in their bodies than men, stress can be detrimental to a woman's fitness goals. So stop sweating the small stuff!
Diet and Healthy Eating Habits
If you want to get bigger, then you need to eat "bigger." Now that doesn't mean grabbing a bucket of chicken from Kentucky Fried Chicken on a regular basis. It means that you should be eating proteins, carbohydrates, and fats 5 to 6 times a day (depending on the person).
- Your body will quickly adapt to the consumption of the larger volume of food, giving you more energy to burn from the carbohydrate sources (pasta, vegetables, and rice).
- You will recover much faster from the steady protein stream (eggs, fish, and chicken).
- Your mental focus will improve from the fat content (fish oil, flaxseed oil, and nuts).
Supplements can also assist in your quest for quadricep growth. You need vitamins daily already, so taking a multi-vitamin will only be more helpful, especially the B complex vitamins. Anti-oxidants, pre-workouts, amino acids, and creatine will all aid in the muscle-building process and testosterone rising effects. Taking a supplement for a specified period of time (8 to 10 weeks) and recording the results will let you know which supplements work best for you and your legs.
Tomato & Spinach Pasta
- 2 cups Rotini pasta, uncooked
- 1/2 lb sausage, Italian
- 6 oz Baby spinach leaves
- 1 can (14 oz) Diced tomatoes, Italian style
- 1 cup Kraft Shredded Mozzarella cheese
- 2 tbsp Kraft Parmesan Cheese, Grated
- Cook pasta in large saucepan as directed on package. Omitting salt. Cook sausage in deep skillet on medium high for 10 - 12 mins or until done. Drain and return to skillet. Add spinach and tomatoes and cook for 2 min. (spinach is wilted) stir occasionally.
- Drain pasta and return to pan. Add sausage mixture and cheeses. Mix lightly.
Muscular Female Thighs
The Importance of Sleep
When you sleep, your body releases natural GH (growth hormones). You grow when your sleeping, not when your in the gym. If you eat and train big because you want to grow big, then you need to sleep big as well. You should be getting 8 hours of sleep a day. When I say 8 hours, I mean 8 hours of actual sleep time, not 5 hours of sleep, 2 hours of watching TV, and 1 hour of counting sheep.
Tips for Best Results
- Constantly change your routine. That includes your training regime, your diet, and supplements to keep growth steady.
- Stretch following every leg workout. The stretching will break up toxins, can help prevent injury and alleviate muscle soreness.
- Record everything. The weight being used, ensuring you are getting stronger. Stronger equals bigger. Record your cardio times making sure your stamina is improving, and take measurements of your quads as they grow.
It's just as important to know what your weaknesses are as it is to know your strengths. Your body is amazing and will adapt quickly to any and all training types, so its absolutely necessary to change everything up to continue to see new gains. Design your own personal leg workout, changing it when needed will have your thighs growing bigger and faster.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
jy on October 12, 2013:
Are those actually women in those photos? Not to judge anyone who finds that physique attractive in a woman, I'm just skeptical because there are no faces attached to those bodies. The first could just be a man with photoshopped under-tits. The second could easily be a dude in heels. They have longish nails though, so it's hard to tell.
Kevin W (author) from Texas on September 07, 2013:
Appreciate the read ladies, having a great pair of legs is always attractive
Michelle Orelup from Las Vegas, NV on August 29, 2013:
WOW! I can't say that I would want my legs to look like that, but those women have put in a LOT of WORK. Great post.
Mary Craig from New York on August 29, 2013:
Holy moly those are some thighs! Great info and I'm sure many will find it useful.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on August 29, 2013:
I like your articles. So informational and insightful. Thank you.