Will Running Make My Legs Bulky?

Will Running Make My Legs Bulky?

By Karen Kwan

Lean — that’s what most of us are aiming to achieve when we’re working out. So much so that we may shy away from activities that have a reputation for creating bulky muscles, such as lifting weights leading to a manly physique, or running causing hefty thighs and calves.

In fact, a Lipstick Powder N Paint reader came to us with this very observation and asked us for some help; she started running regularly and now her legs seem way bulkier, and she wants to know if there’s anything she could do about it?

“It may seem like your legs are bulking up,” says Justine Keyserlingk, “but you’re just losing fat and your muscles are showing more — so they may seem like they’re bulkier or popping out more.” It’s also possible that your body type may be such that you do have a tendency to become bulkier when you exercise, adds the Toronto-based personal trainer. Look to your parents’ body type to perhaps get a sense of what your predisposition is.

If you’re still worried about bulky muscles, Keyserlingk suggests going for longer, slower runs on flat ground rather than fast, short runs so that you work the slow twitch muscles. “Look at the physique of a marathoner compared to someone who runs the 100-metre dash — these are extreme examples, of course, but you’ll see that a sprinter has a bulkier shape.”

If you have a health or fitness question you’d like answered, email us at We’d be happy to help!

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