how to slim down muscular thighs

If I have to pick the most popular question I am constantly asked, it would definitely be: ”How to slim down muscular thighs?”


I know most people go to the gym to build muscle, but many women actually have issues with getting overly muscular legs when they exercise.

Some people have even told me that their legs get bigger with running, barre, yoga and other exercises that you wouldn’t expect to bulk up your thighs.


Everyone’s idea of “bulky” is different – I cannot stress this enough. This is something every personal trainer should be aware of.

For some women, having just a little bit of muscle in their thighs might be too much, and for others, it might be OK.

For me personally, when I do weights and HIIT, my legs get too muscular for my liking.

However, my arms and stomach tend to slim down. Even just 2 weeks of HIIT, will cause my legs to increase in size. I don’t have too many examples of photos of me when I’m like this, but here is one so you can get an idea.

how to slim down muscular thighs

I will share with you the exact exercises you need to do to slim down muscular thighs. And at the end, I will also give you some ideas on exercises you can do to slim and tone the rest of your body, but without bulking up your legs.


Everyone knows that marathon runners have skinny legs. Long duration steady state cardio will slim down your legs.

I would run at a medium fast pace and aim for 5kms or at least 30 minutes. But longer is better if you’re trying to slim down muscle.

For speed, I would recommend somewhere between 9-12 km/hr.

And always make sure you’re running on a flat surface. Any uphill running will use your quads more and will contribute to bulkiness.

I should also mention that if you are very short and are the endomorph body type, your legs may actually get bigger with running.

If this is a problem for you, I would focus on walking.

Power walking is the best exercise for slimming down your legs and still burns a surprising number of calories, so don’t feel disheartened if all you can do is walk.

The last thing I want to mention is that running is much more effective at slimming down your legs than the cross trainer/elliptical.

In case you want more details or have more questions about cardio, read my Q&A Cardio post.

Related post: Why You Need Cardio For Lean Legs


When you do cardio, your body will burn stored glycogen (carbohydrates) first, and then fat, followed by protein (muscle).

If you do cardio before you eat, you will have less stored glycogen, and your body will, therefore, burn more fat and muscle.

But for this to work, you need to eat low carb (preferably you haven’t eaten any carbs for dinner the night before), and you need to do cardio for a fairly long period of time.

I have written a much more detailed blog post on fasted cardio, so have a read of this here if you’re interested.


Decreasing your calorie intake will help you lose weight and also muscle. Muscles are a metabolically active tissue, so they require calories.

If you reduce your calories, your body will not be able to sustain your muscle size, and they will decrease. To work out how many calories you should be eating, read this blog post.

how to slim muscular thighs

If you also eat low carb, your body might also use fat and protein (muscle) for energy, rather than carbohydrates.

This will help you decrease your muscle size quicker.OK, so if you do these 3 things, your leg muscles will start to decrease. However, it is important to know what NOT to do.

If you’re not sure where to start but you want to eat healthy, I have a FREE 7 Day Slim Legs Meal Plan that will help slim down your legs. My meal plan is gluten, dairy and processed sugra free :)

You can download it below!


Knowing your body type is super important! There are three different body types and they all lose weight and build muscle differently.

I have created a special body type quiz which will help you determine your body type in just 2 minutes.

Taking my Quiz will help you learn how to exercise and eat according to your body type to get the best possible results. :)



As long as you are lifting heavy or doing exercises that use your leg muscles, you won’t lose the muscle.

It’s really that simple.

Even if you’re doing light weight and high rep, you still won’t lose the muscle. You won’t necessarily build muscle, but you will maintain the muscle that you currently have.

So avoid anything you’re doing that uses your legs, including the traditional squats, deadlifts, burpees, and leg weighted machines. And avoid “leg days”.

how to slim muscular thighs

I would also avoid exercises such as HIIT and CrossFit.


As I mentioned, some women experience bulky legs when they do running, barre and yoga.

If you notice your legs increasing in size with a particular exercise, don’t do it! It is very individual, and you need to do what works best for you.

On my blog, I do have some HIIT exercises that won’t cause you to bulk up.

However, if you are an endomorph, are very short, or very very sensitive to building muscle, these exercises still might cause you to build too much muscle for your liking. So I would do these with caution.

If they work for you, that’s great! If not, don’t do them.


Cardio is good for slimming down your legs, but not if you’re sprinting.

how to slim down muscular thighs

Sprinting will build muscle, and especially in your quads. Make sure your cardio is steady state. And again, make sure it’s on a flat surface (no hill or stair runs!).


There are still different types of exercises and resistance training workouts that you can do to tone up, without targeting your legs and making them bigger.

ALL of the workouts on my blog are designed to help you tone up without getting bulky, so I would highly recommend giving them a try! :)

For your lower body, my favorite exercises are pilates-style moves and exercises that focus on toning up your butt, rather than increasing the size of your thighs.

For your upper body, I absolutely love swimming and boxing for toning up (as well as burning LOTS of calories) without bulking up.

When I lift weights for my upper body, and especially when I do pull-ups and overhead pressing, my back gets really wide.

However, if you still want to do weights, read my blog post on how to do it without getting bulky.

victoria's secret workout

Boxing tones up my shoulders and arms without getting broad. Swimming is also great, but just be careful not to overdo it, or your back might get broad.

I also have a 3 Steps to Lean Legs Program which will help you slim down your legs and tone up your body, without getting bulky legs. There are three versions of my program, for each of the three body types. That way you can be certain you’re going to get the best possible results.

It includes cardio and the style of resistance training that I have mentioned in this blog post. And it also has a complete 8-week meal plan so you can be sure you’re eating healthy. :)

And as always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask! xx

164 comments on “How To Slim Down Muscular Thighs”

  • Tae says:

    About how long should this take to see results?

    • Diana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,
      Depending on how much muscle you’ve gained it can take anywhere from 2-6 months to slim down completely.


  • Someone says:

    I’m a ballet dancer so avoiding excersises that use those muscles is not possible, opp 😬

  • Olivia says:

    Hi! Will your workouts also help with my upper body? I am short (5ft) and i have big muscular thighs. My pants are starting to be too tight around my thights but not tight around my waist. And my shoulders look broader and arms a lot bigger. I do lift but im only using 10lbs for upper body. Lower i am using up to 100lbs with squats/leg press. Im also training for a half marathon and a marathon in October. So my question is will your program lean out my entire body to look thin or just my legs? Thank you!!

    • Diana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,
      The Lean Legs Program includes full body workouts, so it will help you slim and tone your upper body and core as well, not just legs! Also, it’s completely tailored to your body type. :)
      You can find out more about our program here:

      Lean Legs Program


  • MaKayla Hurley says:

    Hi! So I have been a gymnast for almost 8 years now (since I was 5) and I’ve just now stopped because it is tiring. But I’ve noticed my legs have gotten very bulky and the muscle isn’t toned anymore….. I really want to fix it but nothing I do works!! I don’t need to lose weight because I don’t weigh over 95 lbs…. but I just want to tone my muscle and try for a thigh gap? Is there a healthy and safe way to achieve this goal of mine? I really need some help!

  • Tal says:

    Hi dear Rachel! i just wanted to thank you for all this information. I’m struggling with my legs all my life, I’m a very active girl since I can remember myself and everything in my life is around sports. All my trainers were always telling me the same thing: “this is your body and there is nothing you can do to make you legs thinner”. lust before giving up, I found your blog and finally i feel like there is hope! thank you so so much for what you’re doing.


    Tal :)

    • Diana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,
      I’m so glad you’ve found our blog helpful! Hopefully you’ll be able to achieve your fitness goals in no time. All the best! :) xx


  • A person says:

    I’m a dancer and I have class 5 times a week but I’m getting really bulky, how do I fix this.

    • Diana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,
      We would love to help you as much as we can :) So that’s why we have created the Lean Legs Program!

      The Lean Legs Program is an 8 week workout and nutrition plan designed to help you get lean and toned without bulking.
      It will help you slim down your legs, but will also help you slim and tone your upper body and core too (the workouts are full body).

      It also includes a full meal plan, a separate recipe eBook and demonstration videos.

      You can find out more about the program here:

      Lean Legs Program


  • Amy says:

    Hi! After we complete your program, what exercises should you do maintain your skinny legs? Can I just walk by itself?

    • Diana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,
      I would recommend doing another round of the Program for even better results or maintenance.
      Of course, you can also add some ankle weights, gliding discs and resistance bands (if you haven’t already), or increase the number of repetitions to make the workouts more challenging.
      Whatever you decide, walking should always be combined with resistance training. :) xx


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