How To Get Skinny Legs Without Building Muscle

Someone once said that a man looks at a woman’s legs before anything else. Even if they don’t, who doesn’t want those long, sexy legs that dancers have? Everyone does, right? While there is nothing wrong with having bulkier legs, of course, but if you want those lean, skinny legs, how do you get them without spending 8 hours a day dancing and avoid those weight lifters legs from doing weight training?

While weight training is still one of the best ways to get a super toned body, the fact remains that, it’s not that difficult for women to get pretty bulky looking, especially the legs.

How to get long lean legs like Candice SwanepoelMost people I know are more inspired by the slender physique of Candice Swanepoel - who is a popular model for Victoria's Secret - than the athletic, bulky physique of Andreia Brazier who is a famous WBFF Diva fitness champion. This despite the fact that both women have healthy bodies that exude confidence.

We know how it is. You want to have lean but toned legs that look stunning in a dress or on the beach. For those of you who want to have a more feminine silhouette and firm inner thighs, we have the answer.

Lean Leg Plan

First, we want to tell you that exercise alone won’t get you those great looking, lean and skinny legs if you are eating a ton of junk food like donuts and potato chips. To get the look you want, you will still need to:

  • Eat a healthy, whole food diet
  • LISS exercises (low intensity steady state), walking/cardio daily (30 minutes)
  • Stretching nearly every day is just as vital as exercise
  • Do high intensity (HIIT) exercises at least twice a week (*15-minute HIIT Full Body Workouts)
  • Do strength training 2 to 3 times per week (upper body)

We have listed the best cardio workouts to get those skinny legs at the end of this article so keep reading!

How Do I Slim Down My Bulky, Muscular Thighs?

For those of you who have bulky thighs and want to slim down your legs, consider cutting back on lifting heavy weights while strength training.

As long as you are lifting weights that involve the legs or doing exercises that use your legs, it will be difficult to lose the muscles on those legs.

It’s really that simple. Even if you’re doing light weights and high reps, you still won’t lose the muscle. You won’t necessarily build new muscle, but you will maintain the muscle that you already have.

If you want to stop making your legs look any bulkier, avoid anything that uses your legs, including the traditional squats, deadlifts, burpees, and leg weighted machines. You might also want to avoid “leg only” workout days.

Other exercises that are known to bulk up your legs are CrossFit and HIIT. While these are great exercises, they won’t give you those skinny, lean legs you are looking for.

15 Kick Butt Exercises for Lean and Lovely Legs without the Bulk

These inner thigh and leg exercises are designed for minimal or no jumping. Jumping can increase bulk and it isn’t all that great for your knees!

We will tell you exactly how to do these exercises to get the results you want later in this article.

1. Donkey Kicks

Get down on all fours on a mat. Keep your foot flexed. Now kick up towards the ceiling, as if you were going to place the sole of your foot on the ceiling. Your thigh should be parallel to the floor. Squeeze the booty, then return to start. Repeat with the other leg.

Each leg. Beginner 12-15 reps, Advanced 20 reps

2. Alternating Front Kicks

These look easy, but they are such a great workout. Stand up straight and begin by jogging in place. Pull your knees up as high as possible, then kick out your foot, as if you were trying to kick something high up. Alternate legs and kick as high as possible. You can go as fast as your balance will let you!

45 seconds

3. The Bird Dog

This exercise works core muscles, hamstrings, glutes, and the lower back. It is also great for improving balance. It might take you a few tries to find your balance and maintain proper form, but once you get the hang of this exercise, you will want to do this one regularly.

Start on your hands and knees, hands about shoulder width apart. Keep your head, neck, and back in a straight line. Reach your right arm out in front of you, as if you were going to grab onto something. At the same time, kick your left leg behind you until it is also straight out and in line with your torso. Hold for a count of one. You can add ankle weights to this once you get the balance part down. Return to start. Keep repeating until the set is completed, then switch sides.

Each side. Beginner 12-15 reps, Advanced 20 reps

4. Bench Hops

This exercise will require a small bench close to the ground, such as a step bench for aerobics or something similar. Stand next to the bench and put your hands on both sides near one end. Put both legs together and hop from one side of the bench to the other as quickly as possible. Be careful that you don’t hit the bench with your feet and fall!

This exercise works all the leg muscles, as well as the booty.

45 seconds

5. The Rainbow Leg Lift

The exercise with the pretty name gets high marks because it works so many muscles! This really gives your abs and booty a good workout as well as toning the hamstrings and lower back. The rainbow is similar to the donkey kick but with a little extra booty workout.

Start from a kneeling position, your hands and knees about shoulder width apart. Straighten your left leg out so the toe is almost touching the floor. Now lift that leg up and out so that it makes an arc and crosses your right leg. Bring the leg back and tap the floor with your toe, then return to start. Repeat until you feel the burn, then switch legs.

Each leg. Beginner 12-15 reps, Advanced 20 reps

6. The Mountain Climber

This exercise is a killer as it gets your heart rate going while working almost every muscle in the body including your hip abductors, quads, hamstrings, arms and abs. Strength training and cardio all in one? Oh yeah!

To do this exercise, start in a plank position. Try to squeeze those glutes and keep your abs pulled in. Now pull your right knee to the chest. Quickly change legs and pull your left leg to your chest. Keep alternating legs as quickly as you can. Be sure to keep your plank position and squeeze those abs and glutes! Don’t drop your head to the floor either. This is a real workout but the benefits are enormous.

Beginner 12-15 reps, Advanced 20 reps

7. Glute Bridge Pulse

For a fabulous booty, this is probably the perfect exercise. This one will also work your hamstrings, quads, abs, and lower back as well.

Lie down with your back and soles of your feet flat on the floor. Move your feet close to your booty. If you can, keep your feet about 6 inches from your butt or as close as you can get them. Push your booty up so that your shoulders are on the floor. Raise your hips up about 3 or 4 inches then squeeze your booty tight. Lower your hips but don’t let them touch the floor! Pulse up and down this way until you really feel the burn.

3 pulses. Beginner 12-15 reps, Advanced 20 reps

8. The 3-Legged Dog Pose

This is a great stabilization exercise for your core and a super workout for hamstrings, glutes, and shoulders.

Start with the plank position. Spread your fingers with your index finger pointing forward and the other fingers fanning out to the sides. Push your hips up so that you make a “V” shape. Extend one leg back and up towards the sky, foot flexed. Squeeze your booty at the top of the lift, then lower your leg and switch sides.

Each leg. Beginner 6-8 reps, Advanced 9-10 reps

9. High Knee Runs

As the name implies, this is another one of those “running in place” exercises that works almost the entire body. Your legs get a great workout and the cardio helps to keep those legs slim!

Stand tall and start running in place bringing your knees up as high as you can while you do so. Keep your elbows at about waist level and pump your arms up and down. Keep going as long as you can. Try to add an additional 15 seconds to your time with each workout.

45 seconds

10. Lying Leg Lifts

Ankle weights will help to make this exercise more effective. This exercise works both inner and outer thighs, the booty, and as an added bonus, gives you some super tight lower abs.

Lie on your back, hands at your sides, palms facing down. As slowly as possible, lift both legs straight off the ground, towards the ceiling. Pause for one second, then lower your legs slowly back to the ground. For an extra bonus, don’t let your legs rest on the floor!

Each leg. Beginner 12-15 reps, Advanced 20 reps

11. Step Ups

At first glance, this exercise looks too simple to give your legs a real workout, but it is surprisingly effective. This easy to do exercise works the front of the thighs, your calves, and the booty. All you need is a step of some sort (a stair riser, a step stool, or a chair if you are in good condition!) Be certain that the step is sturdy and that it won’t shift out from underneath you!

Face the step with your feet about hip width apart. Check to see that you can reach the step easily but that you aren’t standing so close that your feet will catch underneath the chair as you step onto it.

Take your right foot and step up onto the stool or chair. Rest all your weight on your right leg. You can use your left foot a bit for balance or put your arms out to the side if you need to keep your balance. Step down off the stool onto your left leg. Reverse the process- step up with your left foot and come down with your right foot. The higher the step, the harder the workout!

10 step-ups on each leg

12. Lunge Back Kicks

Let’s start by working those inner thighs, which are there to extend the thigh muscles. This exercise puts that inner thigh to work by putting it through a complete range of motion. An added bonus to this exercise is that it will also tone your booty.

Start with your feet about hip width apart and take one step forward with your left leg and lunge so that your right knee is almost touching the floor (or go as far down as you can). As you begin to stand back up, take the left leg and kick it back behind you. Alternate legs until the set is complete.

Each leg. Beginner 12-15 reps, Advanced 20 reps

13. Inner Thigh Leg Lifts

We are working those inner thighs again because they are such a problem for most women! This exercise works the inner and outer thighs as well as the booty.

Sit on your left booty cheek and use your hands to hold the upper body. Cross the right leg over the left. The left leg will be sticking straight out. Flex your bottom foot and lift your left leg up towards the ceiling as high as you can. The movement in this exercise will be small so don’t worry if you can’t move the leg very high. Don’t let the leg touch the floor as you are doing this movement. Repeat with the other leg.

Each leg. Beginner 12-15 reps, Advanced 20 reps

14. Inner Thigh Raise to Plank

For this exercise, you will need a sturdy box, step stool, or exercise bench. As the name implies, this exercise works the inner thighs, but also the outer thighs, hips, and booty.

Start in a side plank position, with your right elbow and arm on the floor. Place your left foot on top of the box or stool. You will need to bend your right leg back a little, so it will clear the box. Squeeze your left leg and lift your hips off the floor. Lower your hips, but don’t let them touch the floor completely. Repeat until set is complete, then switch sides.

Each leg. Beginner 12-15 reps, Advanced 20 reps

15. The Reverse Clamshell

If you only had time to do one exercise for your legs, this would be the one. This works both inner and outer thighs, as well as the booty if you squeeze it during the exercise. You will need a small rubber or plastic exercise ball for this movement.

Lie on your side with your knees slightly bent, one leg on top of the other. Place the ball between your thighs. Keeping your feet together, squeeze the ball with your thighs and hold for one second. You can also squeeze your booty at the same time for a little extra workout. When you finish one set, lie on the opposite side and repeat.

Each leg. Beginner 12-15 reps, Advanced 20 reps

16. The Clamshell

Lie on your side, head supported with a bent arm. Use the other arm for balance. Pull your knees up slightly. Lift the top leg, then lift the lower portion of the bottom leg. The knee and thigh of the bottom leg should be on the ground. Keeping the feet together lift the top leg up and down, so it looks like a clam opening and closing. Switch legs.

Beginner 12-15 reps, Advanced 20 reps

How Are These Workouts Meant to Be Done?

These exercises can be broken up into two circuits. Each circuit to be comprised of 3 exercises. Do circuit one by doing each exercise, one right after the other, with as little rest as possible in between exercises. Beginners should do 12-15 reps for each exercise and once you become more advanced, 15-20 reps per exercise.

Go through circuit one 3 times. This equals 3 sets. Give yourself one or two minutes to catch your breath, then go to circuit two, again, completing 3 sets.

You can create your own circuits as the order the exercises are done in isn’t as important as doing them!

See the examples below:

Circuit One

  • The Rainbow Leg Lift
  • The Mountain Climber
  • The Bird Dog

Circuit Two

  • Donkey Kicks
  • Knee Ups
  • Clamshell

Another example...

Circuit One

  • Inner Thigh Leg Lifts
  • Bench hops
  • Donkey Kicks

Circuit Two

  • Lunge Back Kicks
  • Alternating front kicks
  • Glute Bridge Pulse


You should also do cardio most days of the week. Some of the best cardio for skinny legs are:

  • 35-45 minutes of walking at 3.5 to 4 MPH
  • 35-45 minutes of low resistance cycling
  • 35-45 minutes cross-trainers
  • 25 minutes of jogging at 5 MPH

Get Inspired!

By measuring your progress, you can feel inspired to continue with your workouts.

Many people find that measuring themselves on the same day of each week (every Monday for example), wearing the same clothes (or no clothes) and using the same scale helps to put things in perspective.

Keep a chart where you can weigh yourself, take measurements of your legs in the same location, and take a selfie so you can watch the changes happen!

You will love your new skinny legs so much, we bet you buy yourself some new skirts and shorts to show off all your hard work!

How To Get Skinny Legs Without Building Muscle

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