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Do Runners Have Skinny Legs?

A runner’s physique depends on the type of running they do.

Professional runners, specifically long-distance runners, tend to have ‘skinny’ legs. This is because they train extremely hard in order to sustain stamina and endurance so, their bodies don’t get the chance to build muscle because they burn more than they consume.

Do runners have skinny legs?

Moreover, the body’s preferred fuel source for running is stored fat so, they are more likely to burn muscle when running, giving them a more lean rather than muscly physique.

Long-distance runners depend on endurance so, being skinny will benefit their bodies because the lighter they are, the less strain they put on their bodies. So, they don’t really need any muscle at all.

Other professional runners like short-distance and sprinters will have a completely different body mass. This is because they store and use their energy differently.

So, whereas marathon runners, for example, are super light and often very ‘skinny’ because they need to carry their own bodies over long periods of time, sprinters like Usain Bolt, for example, are much more muscly and bulky because they need lots of power to be able to run incredibly fast over a very short period of time.

The human body is actually super smart and is able to adapt to suit our needs. So, if a runner is consistently running long distances over longer periods of time, their body will make the necessary adjustments to optimize their endurance.

As we’ve already said, fat is the best source of fuel for endurance, so our bodies will remove any unnecessary weight that may slow us down. Often, the first thing to go will be any muscle, thereby giving you a ‘runners body’ or ‘skinny’ legs.

Does running reduce thigh fat?

Running can be a great way to reduce fat, even thigh fat but, it all depends on the type of running you’re doing, how often you’re doing it and whether you are achieving a calorie deficit.

So, if you are running long distances at a relatively slow pace (compared to sprinting) and you do this regularly, you will notice your physique changing. This is because long distance runners rely on stamina and endurance in order to carry themselves over long distances.

To do this, their bodies need to find the most effective way to slowly release energy in order to keep going.

However, the best fuel source for this type of running is fat so, while your thighs  may appear to have become smaller, they may not necessarily have lost fat, rather they are more likely to have lost bulk/ muscle.

This is because your body will store fat to use as energy and any muscle you had in your thighs will have been the first thing to go.

This results in what people refer to as ‘skinny fat’ whereby you appear to have lost weight, but you’ve actually lost muscle giving you a leaner appearance on the outside but on the inside your fat percentage will be pretty high.

That being said, if you only plan to run shorter distances at a regular pace a couple of times a week, and you maintain a calorie deficit, running can be a great way to burn fat, even thigh fat.

In fact, running allows you to burn double the amount of calories than walking alone. You need to develop a regular habit for this to visibly make a difference to your appearance though, especially your thighs. 

A calorie deficit is when you burn more calories per day than you consume. This is an important step in weight loss. It is recommended that the average person should aim to burn 500 calories more than they eat per day to lose weight.

However, this is a general rule, and you should always take into account your personal health and goals and consider seeking advice from an expert before starting a new exercise and diet routine.

Are narrow hips better for running?

As a general rule, our muscles tend to work more efficiently when everything is ‘in line’. What we mean by this is the easier it is for your muscles to function, the faster you will be able to move.

For example, it is a common conception that men are biologically faster runners than women. This is because men tend to have much narrower hips than women, on average.

This gives them a better running stance as they are able to run keeping their hips straight and aren’t wasting time and energy moving their hips from side to side as much.

Women’s hips tend to be wider which requires the muscle to turn slightly as they run, which is less effective.

So, the narrower the hips, the better a person should be at running, or at least running fast.


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