Blog Fitness Skinny Legs Big Upper Body: Here’s The Fix You’ve Been Looking For

Skinny Legs Big Upper Body: Here’s The Fix You’ve Been Looking For

why do i have skinny legs and big upper body

Skinny Legs Big Upper Body

Do you remember watching Johnny Bravo on Saturday mornings when you were growing up? Do you remember his wild hair and how about his corked look? Didn’t you at first just do a double-take when you saw how he had that big upper body wedged down on top of a pair of short and skinny legs?  It should come as no surprise to anyone that this shape does not only appear in cartoons. Perhaps you’ve noticed that it’s fairly easy to come across a person not only in your local gym but also in the supermarket, mall walkway, even in a doctor’s clinic who has a very bulky upper body atop a very small lower body. What causes this unpleasant shape described as skinny legs big upper body? If this happens to be what you see in the mirror, is it something that can be fixed?


Most people who are like this are on the lookout for ways they can conveniently and quickly fix this oddity. It just messes with your self esteem when your upper body looks like that of Zeus while your lower body looks like a stickman. One must remember that the first step to solving any problem is to know what caused the problem. This is helpful in that you can know what to do and not do so that you do not repeat the same mistakes later on. 

Skinny Legs Big Upper Body: Reasons Guys Get Stuck With Skinny Legs

Why do I have such impotent and skinny legs with a big upper body? If this is a question you always find yourself asking, then you are in the right place. We at Betterme are going to answer that question for you, for once and for all.

skinny legs big upper body

You Are Not Switching Up Your Exercises

The body is known to adapt to the conditions it undergoes when the same situation is presented repeatedly over and over again. This is just as true for the people who are always at the gym. If you are always doing the same exercises, in the same way, every single time, the exercises will cease having a positive impact on your body. When it comes to working out, constant change is a critical factor in maintaining constant growth (1). 

If you have been going to the gym for a long time, you hopefully have realized the need to be constantly changing your workout routines. Even the smallest change can help prevent you from having a big upper body with a small lower body. A change in the number of reps you do for each exercise, the incorporation of different variations of a certain exercise, doing an exercise a bit longer, changing your periods of rest or even just progressing your use of heavier weights. If none of this seems to work, it is perhaps time to seek some consultation with an expert.

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You Might Have Weak Legs

Working on strong muscular legs is important to preventing skinny legs. Most people tend to claim they do have strong legs but they are just skinny (1). It is important to note that biologically, skinny legs and weak legs go together. How do you know if you have strong legs or weak legs? How about, can you squat twice your bodyweight? Could you deadlift two-and-a-half times your bodyweight?

If these achievements are outside the realm of your possibilities, the reason you have skinny legs is that they are not strong enough. If this is the case for you, focus first on building strength. You will be surprised to find out that the stronger your legs become, the bigger in size they will become. If however your legs have the strength and yet they are still skinny, it is time to blame this condition on your genetics. This should not worry you as there are other things to consider. Now a look at how an expert might advise you on the best way to deal with this situation.

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skinny legs big upper body

You Need To Concentrate On Volume Training

Sometimes going heavy is not always the answer. This is one of those times. If you want to increase the size of your legs, you need to concentrate on volume training. (1) Lower loads, as well as high volume training, will help build your legs. You can also combine the two for even better results. You could do a week of low loads and volume training and then the following week you can go heavy. This cycle will help you build both the size and the strength of your legs.

You Are Complicating Things

Even though constant change is important when it comes to working out, when it comes to leg targeted exercises, there are two exercises you always need to have in your workout plan. These two exercises are squats and deadlifts (2). Variations of squats and deadlifts should be the cornerstone of every leg workout. When you do these two workouts correctly, you are likely to get bigger legs. You can start with bodyweight squats, and progress on to adding equipment along the way.

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You Are Doing Too Much Cardio

Can you do too much cardio? In this case, you can. Remember your goal here is to build bigger legs. If size is what you want, you need to concentrate more on strength-building exercises (2). This does not mean that you put away cardio. No, you still need cardio. Cardio will make you fit enough to be able to handle the various strength training exercises. 

Read More: Cardio Workouts: Benefits, Frequency, and Exercises

You Need To Take More Carbs

“Carbs” is one of the most despised words when it comes to fitness. This is okay if you are trying to reduce that extra weight. But if size is what you are going for, it is time to look for those carbohydrates (2). The good thing is that there are a number of healthy carbohydrates one can choose from. 

Examples are quinoa, oats, buckwheat, bananas, sweet potatoes, beetroots, oranges, blueberries, grapefruit, apples, kidney beans, chickpeas, and so many others. Don’t go for highly processed foods, and junk foods, go for foods that deliver the carbs you need while still being very healthy and still providing the other macronutrients to your body. 

Carbs are also important when it comes to building muscles. Carbohydrates are what help you perform at a high level and help you recover more quickly. If you are looking to add mass, your diet needs to consist of 60% carbs, 30% proteins, and 10% fats. These don’t have to be exactly the percentages you would take in, as an expert might have a different opinion on what’s right for you as an individual.

skinny legs big upper body

You Are Neglecting Your Calves

Calves are known to resist growing. You can take this as a problem or as a challenge. When you are working out your calves, you can’t focus on counting repetitions as this can be deceiving (2). What busts the wall is how long those muscles are under tension. If you want to build strength, a 20-second time frame is what you want to shoot for. If you want to focus on growth in size, 40-second calf raises should be enough. In case that muscle endurance is what you are looking for, 60-second calf raises could do the trick. On average for most people, six calf raises takes only six seconds. That is simply not enough time under tension for the calves, hence the reason you should want to concentrate more on time than reps. 

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You Are Missing Leg Days

Most people concentrate on building their upper body muscles and forget about their legs (8). People are usually not that excited about leg days. You need to build muscles throughout your whole body. It is for this reason you need to be vigilant with leg days to prevent having skinny legs and an underdeveloped lower body.

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workout for people with skinny legs and big upper body

Best Workout For People With Skinny Legs And Big Upper Body

If you want to solve the issue of having a bigger upper body and skinny legs, most of the exercises you undertake will be targeted towards the legs. You see that leg day you’ve been avoiding? Well, guess what it’s like you really can’t skip out of it. You don’t also want to ignore upper body workouts completely as you don’t want to have a bigger lower body and a smaller upper body. Balance is key in such scenarios. 

Training your legs has importance in other ways as it targets some of your body’s largest muscles, a good example being your glutes (4). Lower body muscles are the foundation on which your fitness is built. When you train your legs, you also burn more calories, you are able to elevate your T-levels, and in turn, you’ll be able to lift bigger loads. Leg training also improves your mobility and helps build strength, power, and the mass of your legs muscles and your legs as a whole (7). Here are some exercises you should include in your workout routine if you want to work on your legs: 

The Barbell Bulgarian Split Squat

How to do it (9):

  • First, stand while facing away from the workout bench. Hold a barbell across your upper back. Have one leg resting behind you. 
  • Then squat with your standing leg until the knee of your trailing leg almost touches the ground. 
  • Push up through your front foot until you return to your original position. 
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You should do 3 sets of 6 reps with 60 seconds of rest between each set. This particular type of squat is effective at targeting the hamstrings. It is one of the best exercises to tone legs (5).

Read More: Squats vs Lunges: Which One of These Time-Honored Exercises is More Effective?

workout for people with skinny legs and big upper body

Seated Dumbbell Calf Raise

How to do it (6):

  • First, put a weight plate on the ground and rest your toes on it. You should do this while you are sitting on a bench. 
  • Second, place a dumbbell on your knee. Your right hand should be holding the handle of the dumbbell, and your left hand should be holding the top of the dumbbell. 
  • Lift your toes as high as you can. Hold that position for some seconds and go back to the original position. 

You should do 3 sets of 6 reps, with a 60-second rest between each set. This exercise helps to concentrate on your calves. It will really boost the growth of your calves. 

Romanina Deadlift

How to do it (3):

  • Firstl, stand behind a barbell that is on the ground. Bend your knees so that you can grab it. Keep your back and hips straight. 
  • Then without bending your back, push your hips forward to lift the bar. From upright, push your hips back to lower the bar. Make sure to only bend your knees slightly. 

You should do 3 sets of 6 reps, with a rest of 60 seconds between each set. This exercise focuses on your glutes and the superior end of your hamstring. It can help improve your speed and agility on the track.

Barbell Side Lunge

How to do it (4):

  • You first need to stand with your legs under your hips and hold a barbell on your back. 
  • Second, step your right leg out to the side and lower your body as you bend your knees, keeping your leg straight. 
  • Go back to the original position and repeat on the other side. 

You should do 3 sets of 6 reps, with a 60 second rest between each set. This exercise places emphasis on your hip adductors and abductors. 

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Walking 4 Miles A Day: Benefits And How To Maximize Your Results

Good Morning

How to do it (4):

  • Take a barbell and place it across your shoulders behind your neck. Make sure your shoulder blades are pushed back to take the weight off the bar. 
  • Second, brace your core and slowly bend at the hips to lower your head towards the ground. Pause at the bottom, then reverse. 

You should do 3 sets of 6 reps, with a 60 second rest between each set. This exercise can be used to strengthen both your hamstrings and your glutes.

Hip Thruster

How to do it (4):

Lean the top of your back against a workout bench. You should create a 45-degree angle between yourself and the support. 

Second, squeeze your glutes and core and raise your hips to lift the load until your back is straight and your knees form a 90-degree angle. Return to the original position. 

You should do 3 sets of 6 reps, with a 60-second rest between each set. This exercise will help build power in your glutes. When your glutes are weak, they have a negative effect on the movement mechanics of the entire leg. 

Those are some of the leg exercises you should do in order to increase the strength and size of your legs.

Skinny Legs Big Upper Body: The Bottom Line

Having skinny legs big upper body should not be the end of life. There are ways to deal with this situation as shown above. Always remember to consult an expert before you start a new workout routine.



This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this


  1. 7 Reasons Guys Get Stuck With Skinny Legs (n.d.,
  3. 10 Best Muscle-Building Leg Exercises ( 2020,
  4. Best Leg Exercises: Upgrade Leg Day with These 20 Moves ( 2019,
  5. Easy, Challenging, and Everyday Ways to Toned Legs (2018,
  6. Imagine Having Big Upper Body and Skinny Legs (2017,
  7. The Best Leg Exercises for Stronger Glutes, Quads, and Hamstrings (2020,
  8. The Ultimate Leg Workout Guide (n.d.,
  9. Top 10 Best Leg Exercises (2019,
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