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How do you prevent your legs from bulking up when training??

asked almost 4 years ago | Report

I am currently training for a fast approaching half marathon and I have noticed that I have gained pounds of muscle in each leg as a result, specifically the quads and glutes. This could be because of the additional protein I am eating with my running schedule or the cross training bicycle that I do at the gym. I have never had this problem before and it is slowing down my runs at this point. Please help an ignorant runner out!!!

*** Thanks for all of the advice. I should add that I used to play volleyball and my legs were really built up during that time. Once I started running I shed all of the additional muscle mass that I had on my legs... well until. I will try everything but is there something I should look to avoid??

4 answers

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  • Both running and cycling will build muscle... especially is you are pushing yourself with strength building exercises. The extra protein would simply make it easier to build up muscle it wouldn't stop it if you stopped eating as much... You could look to alter up your training to place emphasis on longer lean muscle development though Yoga.

    To speed up your runs... you'll need to examine your training program and focus less on strength building and more on speed and interval work.

    answered almost 4 years ago |Report

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  • Hard to give advice on this, as it doesn't really make sense- or at least isn't common. Firstly, women have a very difficult time bulking up their muscles- even with heavy weight training. Yes- they'll get much stronger, but it takes the form of density, not size. Which is why the female body builders need to take steroids, and they still look tiny compared to the men.

    Even still- let's say you've got a little extra testosterone in your physiology- if you stay away from strength training and sprints- it's near impossible for you to build bulky muscles. Slow-twitch muscles just don't get big.

    Are you doing a lot of squats and leg presses? If not- I don't think I have any solution for ya', as this is not the normal physiological reaction.

    answered almost 4 years ago |Report

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  • Lindsey - your extra muscle mass is your body's adaptation to your training. You will not avoid building more muscle by doing your training.

    What I would suspect if your speed is slowing down (presuming you haven't changed total body mass) is that you are not incorporating enough speed/interval sessions into your training as these guys have mentioned.

    The better way, I think, is that you can increase the efficiency of your nervous system, which is responsible for triggering your muscle to contract and therefore do work. To do this, you would focus on increasing (mechanical) power, rather (mechanical) strength.

    Let me outline the difference:
    Strength is simply how many kg's/lbs. you are able to move.
    Power measures how quickly you can move a mass. The quicker you can move an object, like a barbell, the more powerful you are.

    When you are powerful, your nervous system adapts to your requirement to change muscle contraction/relaxation quickly by increasing your nervous system efficiency.

    This is the basic idea behind speed training. The more efficient your nervous system, the more easily you can run quickly (rapid muscle use) or be poweful (moving heavy objects quickly, for example). This will also allow you to regain your speed, increase stamina, and break through plateaus. Though this will not stop you from building more muscle, it will slow it down because you are teaching your body to be more efficient with the muscle it currently has.

    answered almost 4 years ago |Report

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  • I agree with the 3 answers already here. It's more likely that something else in your training is "slowing you down" not your thighs.

    On another note, muscle is freaking beautiful. Embrace it. When I hear women complain about "bulking up" I always remember those girls in middle school who got boobs first and were embarrassed and wore huge t-shirts. Don't be that girl again! Love your muscles, because not many women have them, and don't hide them. You've worked for those thighs and butts.

    answered almost 4 years ago |Report

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