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How to Fix Your Chicken Legs

Posted 1/19/2016 by UHBlog

Are your legs looking scrawny? Ask us about ways to build strong leg muscles.

How to Fix Your Chicken Legs

If you’re tired of being teased for your thin “chicken” legs, it may be time to refocus your workout.

“Your legs are your link to the ground," says certified strength and conditioning specialist Matt Short, PT. "“They’re important for your stability and balance.”

Your legs are also important for your overall aesthetics.

“People want to look symmetrical,” Short says. “No one wants a huge upper body and tiny legs.”

To make sure your leg workouts are effective, focus on the Big Three:

  1. Quads – You use your quad muscles for almost every leg movement you make during the day, Short says.
    “Incorporate squats, dead lifts, lunges, step-ups and leg extensions into your routine to work your quads,” he says.
  2. Hamstrings – According to Short, your hamstrings provide shape to your legs and help improve stability to your knees and hips. He recommends Romanian dead lifts (RDLs) and hamstring curls to target your hammies.
  3. Calves – Not only do your calves help propel you, but they play an important role in pumping blood from your legs back up to your heart.
    “You can do both seated and standing heel raises,” Short says. “Leg press will also work on your calves."”

Make sure you target your leg muscles on a regular basis, Short says.

“It’s important to focus on those major muscle groups at least twice a week,” he says. He also recommends performing two exercises per muscle group and three sets per exercise.

All that hard work should build muscle in your legs and get rid of leg fat, right?

“It’s a big misconception,” says Short. “You can’t target where you lose fat. Your body burns fat by hitting your target fat-burning heart rate and sustaining it. However, toning your muscles will help give you a less ‘jiggly’ appearance.”

To increase your strength, make sure to vary the:

  • Amount of weight
  • Number of repetitions
  • Exercises

You don’t need to lift to failure either, he says, because that can be detrimental.

On top of exercising to build up strength in your legs, it’s also important to keep in mind what you eat.

“You need to consume 80 to 100 percent of your weight in grams of protein,” Short says. “For instance, if you weigh 100 pounds, you need at least 80 grams of protein each day.”

If you need help putting together a fitness program that will transform your chicken legs into power houses, consider visiting a physical therapist or certified strength and conditioning specialist.

Matt Short, PT, CSCS, is a physical therapist at UH Rehabilitation & Sports Medicine – Mentor. You can request an appointment with Short or any other University Hospitals health care provider online.

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