Reasons Your Legs Are NOT Growing

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Have A Large Upper Body But Small legs? Here's What You Should Do

Have A Large Upper Body But Small legs? Here's What You Should Do

We've all met the person who is physically imposing but struggles to gain size and strength in their legs, despite claiming to train them. Personally, I struggled with this for years before finally getting to the bottom of my small leg syndrome once and for all.

Most people's inability to gain leg size can be attributed to insufficient training volumes, a lack of proper range of motion during lower body exercises, and poor recovery from excessive high-impact cardio exercises.

In this article, I will discuss why you may struggle to gain leg size and strength, offer some exercises and techniques to build leg mass, and share a few workouts with you that you can start doing right away to get your progress started.


8 Reasons You Have Small Legs

1. INADEQUATE OVERALL TRAINING VOLUME

It is critical to accumulate enough training volume to stimulate muscle growth when attempting to gain muscle size. Most lifters who suffer from small leg syndrome don't train their legs enough (or, if they do, they don't train them properly, as I'll explain below).

Most people should target the quadriceps with 14-18 total work sets per week, primarily from compound exercises. Aim for 12-16 total work sets per week for hamstring hypertrophy (total work sets per week, not per session).


2. FREQUENCY OF TRAINING

I recommend that you train your legs twice a week.

If you try to do all of your legs once a week, and let's say you're doing 18 work sets for quads and 16 work sets for hamstrings, that's just too much work for one day.

After 15-20 total sets of anything, neural and systemic fatigue occurs, work quality suffers, and you frequently end up with an accumulation of trash volume (excessive sets and reps that do not increase muscle growth, but rather impede recovery and growth efforts).

After 15-20 total sets of anything, neural and systemic fatigue occurs, work quality suffers, and you frequently end up with an accumulation of trash volume (excessive sets and reps that do not increase muscle growth, but rather impede recovery and growth efforts).

As a result, I recommend dividing your weekly training volume into two, if not three, leg days. Another advantage is that leg days will be shorter, allowing you to focus on perfect reps and adequate loading to stimulate growth.


3. INAPPROPRIATE EXERCISE SELECTION

There are bad exercises, and some people are notorious for focusing on the wrong ones. I recommend that you use the following exercises for the vast majority of your workouts:

  • Back Squats with a High Bar
  • Leg Extensions
  • Squats in the front
  • Squats hacked
  • Leg Extending
  • Split Squats in Bulgaria
  • Romanian Deadlifts with Stiff Legs
  • Deadlifts in Romania
  • Curls in the hamstrings while seated or lying down
  • Pushes with a Heavy Sled

These are mostly made up of compound exercises. They are also made up of ones that allow for progressive overload, regardless of how strong or weak you are. Dumbbells and kettlebells, for example, can limit the amount of loading you can do, which could be the reason your legs aren't growing.


4. FAILURE TO TRAIN IN THE COMPLETE RANGE OF MOTION

This is one of the most common mistakes I see gym-goers make. If you look at any lifter with a great set of wheels (legs), there is a very good chance they are squatting below parallel.

Allow for full knee flexion when performing quadriceps-focused movements. Limiting this will reduce the amount of muscular loading placed on the quadriceps. During movements like RDLs and stiff leg deadlifts, you should aim to flex the hips with a flat back and limit knee flexion.

Finally, feel a deep stretch on the target muscle and work the movement through its full range of motion while maintaining a flat back and proper form. This frequently entails lifting less weight and concentrating on feeling the muscle work before gradually increasing the load.



5. EXTREME TRAINING

Because the intensity is often higher, training heavy, often in the rep ranges of 1-5 reps, can begin to limit the overall amount of training volume one can do (usually loads above 85 percent max). While heavy loads do not directly inhibit muscle growth, only lifting near max loads can put you in a position where you accumulate a lot of fatigue and not a lot of stimulus.

If you are constantly lifting heavy, try spending a few months in a hypertrophy phase where you train in the 5-10 rep range of large compound movements to allow for higher training volumes. To account for lower than optional training volumes in strength blocks, you can also increase rep ranges and volumes of movements like lunges, machines, or accessories exercises during phases where you are driving strength in squats and deadlifts.


6. EXTREMELY LIGHT TRAINING

This can be a problem for many at-home trainers, beginners, and even people who have difficulty pushing themselves in the gym.

While you do not need to max out your lifts, choosing a load that allows you to get 20+ reps if you had to truly go to max may limit your ability to gain size in your lower body. Lifting light weights isn't entirely bad for muscle growth; however, there must be a balance between this and heavier loads, which drive the anabolic process and increase muscle damage.

Lifting in the higher rep ranges all the time may result in your muscles not receiving enough overload stimulus (a basic principle in gaining strength and size).

If you are guilty of this, choose a main compound lift (or two) for each leg session, such as squats and stiff leg deadlifts, and perform 4-5 sets of 5-10 reps with a challenging load. How difficult is it? If you can do more than 3 reps at the end of each set and hit 10 reps (in this case), the load is too light.


7. FAILURE TO EAT ENOUGH

This is primarily for people who are unable to gain muscle mass. A calorie deficit does not provide your body with enough energy to recover and train more frequently. If you are a beginner or have some body fat to lose, you may not need to eat more, but rather focus more of your training energy on leg training. If you are a leaner or a hard gainer, you should train your legs more frequently and eat more calories.


8. EXTREMELY HIGH-IMPACT CARDIO

I'm not opposed to cardio; however, there's a reason why bodybuilders limit cardio during periods when muscle growth is the goal (and the cardio they do is very low impact).

If you're not gaining size in your lower body despite pounding the pavement or doing a lot of high-intensity cardio, you may be breaking down muscle fibers and burning valuable calories that could be used for growth.

Reduce your cardio and use that time to increase your weight training.


10 Best Leg Exercises to Get Bigger Legs

The exercises listed below are some of the best for increasing leg size and strength in the quadriceps and hamstrings.

It is important to note that depending on the movement, these can be performed with a barbell, specialty bar, dumbbells, kettlebells, or machines. The key point with all of these is that they are not limited to a single piece of equipment, but can be tailored to what you have access to.

Make sure to do all of these with loads that cover the broadest range for muscle growth (8-15 reps f 
most people) (however you can experiment with sets of 5-10 and 15-25 from time to time).

SQUATS IN THE FRONT

The load is placed more anteriorly in the front squat, reinforcing the need for a more vertical torso position in the squat. As with the high bar back squat, you force greater degrees of knee flexion and isolate the quadriceps. This can be done with a full grip or with your arms crossed.


SQUATS HACK

One of my favorite quad exercises is the hack squat machine. This machine isolates the quadriceps and allows for a high level of loading. If you don't have access to a machine hack squat, you can finish a quadriceps-focused workout with this foam roller hack squat variation (paired with kettlebells or used for higher reps).

SQUATS WITH HIGH BAR BACK

When compared to the low bar back squat, high bar back squats require a lifter to maintain a more vertical torso position, which increases the amount of knee flexion (and decreases hip flexion) during the squat. This is an excellent exercise for increasing quadriceps strength and size.


LEG PRESSURE

The leg press is an excellent machine for increasing quad size and strength, but it is also the one leg machine that almost everyone gets wrong. Make sure you do these in the fullest ranges of motion possible, often maxing out your pain-free knee flexion angles and using much lower loads than you are used to.

EXTENSIONS OF THE LEG

Machine leg extensions are an excellent way to increase quadriceps training volume without overworking the back or hips. These are great for pre-exhausting the quadriceps before compound lifts or at the end of a session.


SQUATS IN BULGARIAN SPLIT

This unilateral leg exercise strengthens the quadriceps, glutes, and even the hamstrings. The Bulgarian split squat can be performed with a variety of equipment and with heavier or lighter loads depending on the goal.

ROMANIAN DEADLIFTS FOR STIFF LEG

The stiff leg deadlift is a great way to bulk up your hamstrings. Unlike the deadlift, it restricts knee flexion and shifts the emphasis to the hamstrings (and off the lower back and supporting muscles). While you won't be able to lift as much weight as you would with a deadlift, you can still overload the hamstrings. If you have a problem with hamstring size and are deadlifting, I recommend swapping these out to force your hamstrings to grow.


ROMANIAN GIFT OPTIONS

The Romanian deadlift, in addition to the stiff-leg deadlift, can be used to increase hamstring growth and size. This RDL allows for a little more knee flexion, putting more emphasis on the glutes and back.


HAMSTRING CURLS, SEATED OR LYING

Machine hamstring curls (either lying or seated) are a great way to increase hamstring training volume without loading the lower back or hips. These can be done early in a session to pre-exhaust the hamstrings before compound lifts, or at the end of a session.

STRONG SLED PUSHES

This is a personal favorite for people who want to increase leg size and strength but are limited by back pain or squat mobility. The leg press relieves lower back strain while allowing for some knee and hip flexion and extension. You can really load these up and overload the concentric contractions, which can improve blood flow to the quads as well. I prefer to load this heavy and push the sled for 45-60 seconds to get my quadriceps and glutes pumping (I will rest in between sets 2-3 minutes, just like I would with squats).


Why aren't my legs getting any longer?

Calories are the body's building blocks; without them, tissue growth would be impossible. It is physiologically impossible to build new tissue, like as muscle, unless you are in a calorie surplus, which means you are eating more calories than you burn in a day. This applies to all muscular groups, not just the legs!


How can I make my legs grow faster?

But if you follow these instructions, your legs and body will transform.

  • Every week, squat...
  • Improve your goblet squats.
  • Bulgarians can help you gain strength.
  • 10 minutes of lunges or stepups to finish
  • At least once a week, do a hard deadlift.
  • Keep an eye on your glutes.


What causes slender limbs?

The researchers tentatively infer that unusually slim legs may signal a genetic problem with fat storage in the lower limbs, which is connected to an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease.


What do slender legs entail?

If your legs are slender, it's possible that you aren't doing enough strength training on them or that you aren't eating enough calories to grow muscle. Running and other steady-pace aerobic exercises can also result in slender legs.


How can I increase the size of my thigh?

Strength training with a focus on your quadriceps and hamstrings, as well as eating enough calories and protein, will help you gain muscle mass and expand your thighs. Make sure you get enough protein each day to build muscle.


Are slender legs good for you?

The findings revealed that among lean people, skinny lower legs may be the strongest predictor of poor metabolic health, whereas abdominal fat levels and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease are strong predictors of cardiometabolic diseases like Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in obese people.


Why is it that my body is so frail?

Low body weight can be caused by a number of factors, including genetics. If you've been slim since high school and it runs in your family, you were probably born with a faster metabolism than other people. You can also have a naturally low appetite.


What types of legs are appealing?

According to a study, women find longer-legged males more desirable than their stumpier counterparts. According to a study including more than 200 men and women, those with legs that are 5% longer than usual are the most appealing, regardless of gender.


Why is it that my body is so frail?

Low body weight can be caused by a number of factors, including genetics. If you've been slim since high school and it runs in your family, you were probably born with a faster metabolism than other people. You can also have a naturally low appetite.


What types of legs are appealing?

According to a study, women find longer-legged males more desirable than their stumpier counterparts. According to a study including more than 200 men and women, those with legs that are 5% longer than usual are the most appealing, regardless of gender.


Do squats increase the size of your thighs?

Strength-training exercises such as lunges and squats keep the muscles in your thighs from atrophying and can even make them bigger. As a result, they're not a good technique to slim down your thighs.


Without exercising, how can I grow fat legs?

Consume foods that promote muscular growth. Beets, salmon, mackerel, sardines, greek yogurt, almonds, chocolate milk, avocado, lentils, raspberries, quinoa, broccoli, eggs, olive oil, and beef should all be part of your daily diet.


What is the best workout for legs?

Best Leg Exercises

  • Reverse Lunge.
  • Barbell Hip Thrust.
  • Leg Extension.
  • Seated Leg Curl.
  • Lying Leg Curl.
  • Standing Calf Raise.
  • Prowler Push.
  • Assault Bike.


Are three leg exercises sufficient?

Choose 3–5 exercises every leg workout if you're a novice wanting to improve general fitness and want to keep things easy. Then perform three sets of 8–12 reps of each exercise, ensuring that your muscles are fatigued but not exhausted.


Should I start with my legs?

Norwegian researchers discovered that doing leg workouts before doing biceps exercises results in bigger and stronger biceps than not doing leg exercises. How? Heavy leg exercises increase testosterone and growth hormone levels quickly.


When should you do your legs?

3 times per week

In general, you should train your legs three times per week, with each session lasting 15 to 20 minutes and focusing on different parts of the legs. For example, a good strategy would be to work on calves one day, thighs the next, and hips the third.


Do squats help you gain weight?

Squats are a single exercise that works all of the glute muscles. Hypertrophy can be triggered by strategically recruiting and taxing these muscles (or muscle size growth). Yes, squats can aid in the development of larger glutes.

Last Word

If you have small legs, you should train them more frequently using the exercise and training techniques discussed in this article. Some lifters will struggle to gain leg size, but with the right program and understanding of muscle growth principles, as well as consistent training, bigger thighs and hamstrings can be developed.


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