Every gym has its resident chicken legs, and you may, unfortunately, be one of them. We have a tendency to focus on our upper bodies when working out. While that’s all great, we do end up overlooking our lower bodies. The result? Skinny Chicken Legs. Here in this article we’ll tell you exactly what needs to be done to get rid of chicken legs.
Especially if you are a hardgainer training for hypertrophy, when you beef up waist-up, the contrast is even more stark with your naturally skinny bony legs.
Understanding your body and the correct workout routine is going to help transform your Chicken Legs into enviably defined and toned legs which are cohesive with the rest of your body!
This is your comprehensive guide for all you need to know about getting rid of chicken legs. I am going to cover a few great workouts that you can consider, as well some crucial changes you should make in your diet and sleep schedules.
If you are diligent about it, I assure you that you’ll attain those strong, defined thighs and calves, and a well-toned butt that’ll have you showered with compliments!
What are Chicken Legs in Gym Exactly?
I’m sure you’ve seen chickens, in gag videos, if not in real life- how they run around with their big round (and fluffy) bodies balanced on those skinny legs? Yeah, that’s where the concept of “Skinny Chicken Legs” comes from. Skinny legs, and a bulky upper body kind of makes one resemble a chicken.
This typically happens when you have a natural disposition towards being skinny (aka, you are a hardgainer), and you have been devoting most of your efforts towards bulking up your upper body. Sometimes, it’s not even something you’re doing consciously- a lot of typical workout routines tend to inherently show more results on your upper body.
A lot of people who are into athletics or cycling, work their legs out like crazy, but still tend to not attain that attractive bulk.
Well, that’s because you may be giving your legs the adequate stress and power to build those muscles hard, but you are actually using up lots of energy through the cardio and burning up all the creatine produced in the muscle fibers.
Hence, your muscles don’t grow in bulk. To put it simply, too much running or any cardiovascular exercise will help with lean muscle strengthening, but they are not really suitable for gaining muscles. So… we know what doesn’t work. Now, onto what does and how.
Leg Muscles: A Deep Dive
Our legs consist of some of the biggest muscle groups in our body. Having good strength and development is very important as our entire body is supported on those legs.
Apart from the aesthetic appeal, your lower half dictates your balance and sturdiness in the gym and in general- which makes it rather important to pay attention to.
So? How can you build your leg muscles? First of all, it is important to understand the muscular composition of our legs.
Muscle Groups in Your Legs
Let’s go through the four main muscle groups that build and support our legs:
Technically, each of these muscle groups can be further subdivided into various muscle sections, but that’s going to be more of a biology lecture- which I would rather not bore you with.
All you need to know is that the quadriceps muscle collective forms the front thighs, while the hamstrings cover the back of the thighs. The glutes form the hip muscles while the calves are the muscles of the lower legs.
Building the Calves
The quadriceps, hamstrings, and the glutes can gain muscle mass with more ease compared to growing the calf muscles. However, having strong calves is an essential aspect of having a symmetric and proportionate physical structure for the legs.
Not only that, your calves are responsible for supporting and stabilizing your body on those legs, so a built-up calf muscles add to the functional benefits and better performance in sports and athletics.
Building Your Quadriceps and Hamstrings
The quadriceps are technically the biggest muscle group in the human body, and have several subgroups of muscle fibres like the sartorius, vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, and the vastus intermedius.
These muscles can be built and grown into strong big thighs following the workout schedule that you’ll be provided with in the following sections of the article.
Along with this, the hamstrings play a huge role in the flexibility and strength of your legs, even though most people tend to overlook their hamstrings on Leg Day. Working and stretching those hamstrings out can help you with better body balance and flexibility.
Something that you would need to keep in mind is that before jumping into any type of workout routines that might include squats, explosive squats, lunges, etc., it is absolutely crucial to properly stretch the hamstrings.
If they are not properly warmed-up and stretched, they might cause you severe injuries. Many tennis, football and cricket players regularly face hamstring injuries throughout their sports careers (1).
Why Should You Focus on Working Out Your Legs?
Enough with the boring biology talk. Let’s move onto why Leg Day is so important, despite the pain. If you wish to get rid of chicken legs, you need to know!
Yes, we already established that guys with chicken legs do look tad odd and disproportionate when you have a good bulk on your chest, abs, arms, and shoulders. But is that all there is to justify grueling leg days? Is it all just a vanity enterprise? Nope!
Here are the benefits of working out your legs and lower body:
- A proportionate attractive physique.
- Reduces the risks of suffering an injury.
- Increases the leg functionality and flexibility.
- Helps with improving body balance
These should be enough to motivate you to consider a well-planned leg workout routine for building your leg muscles, and fire you up into investing more time and effort to get those attractive builds for yourself.
Project “How to Get Rid of Chicken Legs”: A Graded Workout Guide
Now moving on to the workout sets that would help you get rid of chicken legs. Those half-hearted minimal five minute workouts for your legs after an hour long dedicated upper body routine just won’t cut it. It is simply not enough to show any tangible bulk and development in your quadriceps and calves.
Yes, Leg Day can be brutal, and it really is very tempting to skip it altogether. But you definitely reap the benefits if you stick to a consistent routine. Yes it’ll burn, but that means your muscles are responding to the workouts (2).
Enjoy the burn, and let it motivate you instead of scaring you off. The more difficult these sessions are, the better you would be benefiting.
So, hoping you are not one to quit midway, here are some effective workout plans arranged according to their difficulty levels that you may consider.
I know I said it’s supposed to be “difficult”, but there is of course a limit to how much your body can handle at a certain stage. The idea is to push your body to its limits, but not beyond. Once your body adjusts, you can level up your leg day routine!
The Minimal Sets (Difficulty Level: Beginners)
The minimal set includes some really effective but easy-to-do sets of multi-joint leg exercises for skinny chicken legs.
Depending on your prior experience at the gym, here are the segments to get around to for the minimal sets:
- 20 reps of free squats or leg press for those quadriceps
- 20 reps of deadlift– choose your weight wisely, if you do
- 20 reps of seated leg curls or glute-hamstring raise for the hamstrings.
- 20 reps of bodyweight or free calf raises.
The minimal set can be arranged into repetition of the sets with time as per your convenience. Don’t stop, keep pushing yourself! This routine is going to be child’s play for you in no time for people with chicken legs!
The Reasonable Sets (Difficulty Level: Moderate)
This would be a little difficult if you are a beginner as it would put a good amount of stress on your legs, to make you feel wobbly after you’re done. Move onto this once the beginner routine is a comfort zone for you.
The workouts included in this routine are:
- 3 sets of hip thrusts to work those glutes out, each of 8-15 reps. Remember to squeeze those glutes with each thrust and feel the muscles contract. Feel the burn!
- 20-15-10 reps of weighted or free squats in three consecutive sets, with a rest duration of 1-2 minutes between each.
- 2 sets of hamstring curls, each with 12-10 reps with a 1-2 minutes break in between.
- 2 sets of 20 reps of weighted standing calf raises, or seated calf raises.
- 2 sets of walking lunges, 10 reps each. Make sure you go down properly, and maintain the form.
After these sets, you are bound to sense those muscles burning and your feet might feel a little unsteady- especially when you try climbing up or down the stairs. That’s alright! You’ll ace it in no time!
The Ultimate Sets (Difficulty Level: Hard… But You Can Do It!)
This one could get intense… but it is completely worth it to hit these leg crushers if you’re trying to aim for those chiseled calves and getting rid of chicken legs. Don’t jump into this directly- take it slow and steady!
Here’s the ‘ultimate’ routine to get rid of chicken legs:
- 3 sets of 20-15-15 reps of weighted (barbell) squats. You can also do them as deep squats, slow and steady, to get that extra burn and extra pump. Don’t forget to take 1-2 minutes breaks in between the sets.
- 2 sets of leg press, 10 reps each
- 3 sets of weighted forward and backward lunges, each 10 reps with 2-3 minutes breaks in between
- 2 sets of side lunges with 10 reps each. This is where you’re supposed to start feeling like your legs are about to spontaneously combust… But hold on, you’ve still got to push a little more!
- 2 sets of hamstring curls, 15-12 reps each.
- 3 sets of standing calf raises, 15 reps each. Add weight if you wish to.
- 2 sets of seated calf raises, 12 sets each.
Once you have braved this set for a while and your body is somewhat more comfortable with this routine- you can step it up further!
When you are confident enough to push a little further, get on with a set of farmers-walk as the finishing touch to your session, in order to work the legs out overall as well as the core. It also helps develop arm strength- but that’s a topic for another day.
If you’re not a gym person yet you plan to get rid of those chicken legs, you can do these workouts at home as well! Just make sure you use proper weight distribution when you’re doing weighted squats or lunges. Also, it is a big MUST to check your form and postures, otherwise you may end up with injuries (3).
If you’re someone who doesn’t have much time to invest in these heavy workouts, but still plan on replacing your skinny chicken legs with proportionate, well-built thighs and calves, we can provide you with a less hyped yet effective “shortcut” (you’ll know why it’s in quotes soon enough) that you need to do just for 15 minutes straight.
This could feel a little intense to do in one go, but it really does work well.
Recommended: If you stuck at the same weight and aren’t seeing any progress, here’s a great article on Progressive Overload and How to Do It.
The 15 Minute Leg Burner for Chicken Legs – Men
Well, this might be a 15 minutes grind (which is actually quite short compared to most elaborate routines), but just letting you know that this is no piece of cake. Conventionally, 15 minutes should not be enough to provide someone with a great leg workout, let aside one that would build those legs, increase strength and power, right?
It might sound absurd on paper, but here is a routine that has been approved by Arnold Schwarzenegger himself, and is particularly helpful for getting rid of chicken legs.
This routine consists of a unique training method that includes heavy lifting as well as explosive exercises without weights. This training plan can utilize more fiber recruitment because of PAP, which is Post Activation Potentiation.
In this routine, the main motive is to alternate between heavy exercises and the explosive ones, as a result of which, the successive weight training becomes more effective. Every muscle fiber involved gets stimulated within just those 15 minutes’ power grind, comparable to a prolonged traditional set of exercises.
Without further ado, let’s jump straight into the routine:
- 1st Circuit:The first circuit of workouts would focus on the quadriceps and the hamstring development. This one would include 2 sets of squats and jump squats. You need to break the circuit down into 4 segments.
- Segment 1: Here, you have to do 2 sets of barbell squats or regular squats, each of 5-10 reps, immediately followed by segment 2 (no rest).
- Segment 2: You have to do as many jump squats as possible, non-stop, for 90 seconds. Rest for 45 seconds, and move on to segment 3.
- Segment 3: Put in another set of 5-10 reps of barbell or free squats.
- Segment 4: Do as many jump squats as possible in the next 30 seconds. Don’t stop in between.
- After segment 4, take a 90 seconds breather and repeat the entire 1st circuit.
- 2nd Circuit: The second circuit mainly focuses on the development of the calves. This would include some calf raises followed by explosive standing calf raises.
This circuit has 5 major chunks:
- Segment 1: Do 3 sets of weighted rocking calf raises, 10 reps each. Do the reps slow, and feel the muscles of your calves contract and relax.
- Segment 2: For this segment, do as many explosive body weight calf raises as possible in 90 seconds followed by a 45 second rest.
- Segment 3: Repeat another set of weighted rocking calf raises for 10 reps, and jump to segment 4
- Segment 4: Another set of as many explosive calf raises as possible, this time for 30 seconds, and then a breather for 30 seconds.
- Segment 5: The final set of weighted calf raises of 10 reps.
There you go, 15 minutes of burning leg workouts that are going to leave your legs pumped, and will give you bigger, stronger, and efficient legs. You may include these circuits thrice a week.
The best part about it is that it doesn’t necessarily require you to hit the gym. You can easily set yourself up with barbells ( if you have them) at your place. This routine works both as a cardiovascular exercise, as well as to build those chiseled muscular legs.
Workouts tend to lose their burn over time as your body adjusts to them. While you may feel more comfortable, this actually reduces the efficacy of your routine as well.
Try to stick to these routines for a few months, even if it gets hard, and do them at least twice every week. Within a matter of 90 days of religiously following these routines, you’ll be able to see a significant transformation in your chicken legs.
Some Pro Tips To Help You Get Rid of Chicken Legs
All workouts aside, your lifestyle can make or break any transformation you are aspiring for. Without a healthy diet and sleep schedule, your body cannot heal from the strenuous workouts- and your muscles won’t grow unless they repair.
The effectiveness of these workout routines would not translate into tangible results if you don’t eat well, and take enough rest for your muscles to replenish themselves with the nutritions you have ingested. And if that’s the case… What was the point of pushing yourself all this while, right?
Here is a list of issues that may cause you to be stuck in a rut while trying to get rid of those chicken legs despite your best efforts:
1. Your Sleep Schedule
Are you one of those people who stay up until the wee hours, and then rush off to work early the next morning? If you are, then it’s about time you start making some changes in your sleep cycle without any further delay.
You must be tired of hearing from your trainers or fellow trainees that sleep is one of the most important factors in your fitness journey. But this is the scientific truth and there’s no way of going around it.
Your body needs a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of sleep at night. According to a majority of scientists and doctors, the growth hormones in our body are generated the most while we rest (sleep). So the better your sleep schedule, the better your body will show the effectiveness of your hard work at the gym.
If you are really serious about getting ripped bulky legs, you should pay attention to your sleep schedule and make sure your mind and body receive adequate amounts of quality sleep and rest. Oh, and don’t forget to drink plenty of water!
2. Your Form When Working Out
Yes you need to sweat it, but you also need to pay attention to your technique and form.
Every exercise has a posture and form that’s considered best practice, and these guidelines should be adhered to. The idea is to get the right amount of stress to those particular muscles the exercise targets. Each muscle group in the legs, as discussed in previous sections, needs to be challenged to their maximum limit to effectively have them grow.
If you are doing deep squats, you should make sure that you don’t skip on maintaining the posture, and do the full range of motion while squatting and rising- and that too at the required speed of the workout.
If, for example, you are doing jump squats- the ideal way to go about it is to squat down into a proper deep squat, and then jump upwards with explosive strength. This explosive body raise puts more dynamics into the workout, making it more stressful for those muscle fibers.
This is the ideal route to letting your muscles be under enough stress for it to repair and, consequently, grow.
3. Jumping to Heavy Weights
You should not be jumping between heavy weights. Instead, you should gradually increase the weights, but amp up the number of reps per set. This is standard advice every fitness instructor would give you.
The best way to step up the weights you are lifting, is to consider increasing the weight by five percent of the lifting weight each time, from workout to workout. Increasing by smaller weights over the weeks, eventually, can add to better gains.
While you may have a specific “problem area” you want to devote your focus to- you can’t ignore the rest of your body.
It is important that you view your fitness journey as a bigger picture, and aim for a cohesive outcome. Sure, you may have really skinny legs, but you need to work out your upper body as well. If you tend to focus more on your arms, remind yourself that leg day exists and you need to get to it!
Assign two days a week, each, for training each area of your body. Soon enough, you will have a cohesive and balanced physique that is chiseled and strong!
Equally dividing the engagement with each of the leg muscle groups will enhance your leg development, and you will be surprised to see how far you have come in just a couple months!
In no time, you can get rid of your chicken legs to have the body of your dreams!
Remember, the more you grind, the more you gain. Stick with these workouts, even when they’re draining. You will be rewarded, not just with an aesthetic transformation, but you would feel the difference in your balance, strength, and athletic performance.
You can get rid of chicken legs or poor lower body tone and build, by working hard (and more importantly, working smart) and being diligent. Leg day, for the win!
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Dipanjana’s tryst with fitness and nutrition started way back in high school when she developed an interest in reading about workout routines and diets. A postgraduate student of Literature, Dipanjana has studied Nutrition alongside- both as part of her University curriculum as well as online certificate courses. When she is not working out, Dipanjana can usually be found writing blogs and screenplays or napping amidst a sea of pillows.
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