Personal trainer Rachael Attard reveals the real reasons why your legs aren’t getting leaner

A leading Australian personal trainer has shared the real reasons why your legs aren’t getting leaner despite a healthy diet and exercise – and how you can finally get the limbs of your dreams.

Rachael Attard, from Sydney, said there are both diet and fitness reasons that are stopping you from getting slimmer legs, and both of these could lead to your legs ‘bulking’ out or getting bigger.

‘Girls who follow me on Instagram often ask me these questions: “Why aren’t my legs changing? When will I start seeing results? Why are my legs getting bigger?”‘ Rachael wrote on her website.

So what are the main mistakes you could be making?

A leading Australian personal trainer has shared the real reasons why your legs aren't getting leaner despite a healthy diet and exercise (Rachael Attard pictured)

A leading Australian personal trainer has shared the real reasons why your legs aren't getting leaner despite a healthy diet and exercise (Rachael Attard pictured)

A leading Australian personal trainer has shared the real reasons why your legs aren’t getting leaner despite a healthy diet and exercise (Rachael Attard pictured)

Rachael said one of the main reasons why you're not losing weight on your legs is because you're doing the wrong type of workouts (one of Rachael's transformations pictured)

Rachael said one of the main reasons why you're not losing weight on your legs is because you're doing the wrong type of workouts (one of Rachael's transformations pictured)

Rachael said one of the main reasons why you’re not losing weight on your legs is because you’re doing the wrong type of workouts (one of Rachael’s transformations pictured)

MISTAKE 1: YOU’RE DOING THE WRONG WORKOUTS

Rachael said one of the main reasons why you’re not losing weight on your legs is because you’re doing the wrong type of workouts.

‘I see lots of girls that do workouts that focus solely on squats and lunges when trying to get slimmer legs,’ Rachael said.

But if you focus solely on squats and lunges – as Rachael once did – the personal trainer explained you could end up with bulkier thighs.

‘If you constantly work out your calves, hamstrings, inner thighs, and quads, your legs will most likely get bigger!’ she said. 

Instead, you need to focus on a mixture of cardio and resistance work, along with regular walking – which will keep your legs looking lean.

Rachael (pictured) said one of the biggest mistakes you could be making is over-training your legs, which can make them appear bigger

Rachael (pictured) said one of the biggest mistakes you could be making is over-training your legs, which can make them appear bigger

Rachael (pictured) said one of the biggest mistakes you could be making is over-training your legs, which can make them appear bigger

MISTAKE 2: YOU’RE OVER-TRAINING YOUR LEGS

In the same way that squats and lunges could make your legs appear bigger, so too will doing exercises that are specifically targeted at your legs in favour of whole-body movements.

‘People often think that if you do exercises that target your legs, your legs will get smaller,’ Rachael said.

‘This is based on the idea that you can spot reduce fat from specific areas of your body with resistance training.’

However, she added, it is impossible to spot reduce fat, and so you’re far better off adopting total-body movements that work every area of your body equally like burpees and mountain climbers.

Cardio is key to getting shapely legs, and Rachael recommends you aim for 30 minutes of some form of it per day (one of Rachael's transformations pictured)

Cardio is key to getting shapely legs, and Rachael recommends you aim for 30 minutes of some form of it per day (one of Rachael's transformations pictured)

Cardio is key to getting shapely legs, and Rachael recommends you aim for 30 minutes of some form of it per day (one of Rachael’s transformations pictured)

MISTAKE 3: YOU’RE AVOIDING CARDIO

Cardio is key to getting shapely legs, and Rachael recommends you aim for 30 minutes of some form of it per day.

‘If you aren’t doing any cardio, it’s going to be harder for you to lose fat and slim down your legs,’ she said.

Rachael recommends walking over any other type like cycling or sprinting, as this keeps your body in the fat-burning zone and means that your body will use oxygen to convert far (instead of carbohydrates) to energy.

If you don’t want big-looking calves, Rachael said you should walk on a flat surface instead of an incline, as the incline will bulk out your quads and could mean they look bigger than they are.

‘Walking is the absolute best exercise for getting rid of overall excess fat, including your inner thighs,’ Rachael said. 

‘My advice is to start each morning with a 5km walk so a lot of your walking is already done for the day.’

Following this, try and incorporate as many as possible ‘natural’ steps into your day – by walking around the office at work, going outside on your lunch break and walking home or getting off the bus a stop early.

'Walking is the absolute best exercise for getting rid of overall excess fat, including your inner thighs,' Rachael (pictured) said. She recommends getting a 5km walk in first thing in the morning

'Walking is the absolute best exercise for getting rid of overall excess fat, including your inner thighs,' Rachael (pictured) said. She recommends getting a 5km walk in first thing in the morning

‘Walking is the absolute best exercise for getting rid of overall excess fat, including your inner thighs,’ Rachael (pictured) said. She recommends getting a 5km walk in first thing in the morning

What are the different body types and their characteristics?

This system breaks down all of the body types into three unique stereotypes: ectomorphs, mesomorphs and endomorphs (pictured)

This system breaks down all of the body types into three unique stereotypes: ectomorphs, mesomorphs and endomorphs (pictured)

This system breaks down all of the body types into three unique stereotypes: ectomorphs, mesomorphs and endomorphs (pictured)

* Ectomorph:

Ectomorph body types are very tall and slim. They don’t have much muscle and find it difficult to put on muscle or any weight in general.

* Mesomorph:

The mesomorph is between the ectomorph and the endomorph, and they are defined by a muscular frame and broader shoulders than their waist.

* Endomorph:

An endomorph body type is usually a larger curvier figure. They are quite commonly a stocky build and their bodies hold onto fat well and find it hard to lose. 

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MISTAKE 4: YOU’RE OVER-EATING 

The personal trainer said one of the mistakes many people make is simple, but often forgotten about.

If you are eating more calories than you are expending and already have bigger legs, then these surplus calories are only going to end up ‘going to your legs even more’.

‘You can learn how to calculate your ideal daily amount of calories online, and if you want to lose weight, I suggest eating about 200 calories less than this number,’ Rachael said.

However, she warned you should never go below 1,200 calories. 

If you want to lose weight, Rachael (pictured) said you need to calculate how much you need to be eating and take away 200 calories for weight loss

If you want to lose weight, Rachael (pictured) said you need to calculate how much you need to be eating and take away 200 calories for weight loss

If you want to lose weight, Rachael (pictured) said you need to calculate how much you need to be eating and take away 200 calories for weight loss

How to calculate how much you should eat

Work out your basal metabolic rate (BMR) using the formula: 447.593 + (9.247 x body weight (kg)) + (3.098 x height (cm)) – (4.33 x age in years). This is your basal metabolic rate (BMR).

Workout your total energy expenditure (TEE) using this scale: little to no exercise a week = 1.2; 1-3 days of exercise a week = 1.375; 3-5 days of exercise a week = 1.55; 6-7 days of exercise a week = 1.752; twice daily exercise = 1.9.

BMR x TEE = how many calories you can eat to maintain your current weight while doing the same amount of exercise.

You need to be in a deficit of around 200-500 calories from this calorie amount if you want to maintain your workout schedule.  

MISTAKE 5: YOU DON’T EAT ENOUGH

In the same way that you could be over-eating, so too could under-eating actually result in bigger legs. 

‘Any form of dieting and calorie restriction will reduce your metabolism,’ Rachael said. 

‘The slower your metabolism, the harder it is to burn extra calories.’

If you think you might be under-eating, try resetting your metabolism by eating smaller meals every three hours so your body never goes into starvation mode.

Finally, the personal trainer said if you're really struggling to get slimmer legs, it might not be something you are doing - but a broader health issue (one of her transformations pictured)

Finally, the personal trainer said if you're really struggling to get slimmer legs, it might not be something you are doing - but a broader health issue (one of her transformations pictured)

Finally, the personal trainer said if you’re really struggling to get slimmer legs, it might not be something you are doing – but a broader health issue (one of her transformations pictured)

MISTAKE 6: YOU HAVE UNDERLYING HEALTH ISSUES

Finally, the personal trainer said if you’re really struggling to get slimmer legs, it might not be something you are doing – but a broader health issue.

‘Hormonal health issues can cause you to gain weight and they can make it really hard to lose weight. I used to struggle with hormonal imbalances, and I understand how upsetting they can be,’ Rachael said.

If you suspect this is the case for you, then you need to consult a doctor and/or a naturopath. 

To read more from Rachael Attard, please visit her website here

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